Sunday, 22 August 2010

On Bics (again)

It is perplexing to me as to why I return occasionally to the ubiquitous Bic. I admire and despise it in equal degrees. I never carry one but it seems that I am inexorably drawn into commenting on its place in memory and usage - personal and collective. I do not want to be remembered as a Bic person (on the other hand it is best to be remembered as a Bic person, than as no person at all). I cannot ignore Roland Barthes' aversion to Bic but the Bics global appeal equally fascinates me.

Confessing his obsession with writing instruments, Barthes admitted that he had tried everything
except Bics, with which I feel absolutely no affinity. I would even say, a bit nastily, that there is a "Bic style", which is really just for churning out cheap copy, writing that merely transcribes thoughts. 
My dear fellow blogger, Bill Landay, had sent me a link to a Guardian article of 2007 on the subject of... Bics. He said it has my name on it:

Classics of Everyday Design by Jonathan Glancey

Chewed, discarded and often overlooked, the Biro is, in fact, the world's favourite writing instrument.

The Biro, or Bic Crystal ballpoint pen, is, to the say the least, a successful everyday design. Everyday, some 14m are sold worldwide. In 2005, the total sales figure reached, and passed, one hundred billion. It really is hard to imagine life without these small transparent pens.
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1 comment:

  1. I agree, "I admire and despise it in equal degrees", by Palimpsest, but It's real, let's face this, It is the best selling writng instrument except the "perennial" woodcased Pencil which is the best selling of all times, and my favourite.
    The Bic Crystal does its job. I met this ballpoint when I finished elementary school, I wrote with Write Bros. SouthAmerican version, named Kilometrico by PaperMate during those years in my country.
    I remember that the Bic was not so popular as It's today, but I can say that Its plastic was tougher back then,there is something funny, I don't want a silver Kilometrico but I would like to have a silver Bic as you can see it here:
    Thanks for your blog. I apologize if my english is not the best I am learning it.