Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Immaterial Handwriting

I mentioned before the wonderful G. Lalo envelopes and cards sent to me by Exaclair and the pressure said cards exerted on me to “write well.” Making a mark on such exquisite paper? I better have something significant to say. And I don’t.

Even in notebooks I use the last page – as if my thoughts are akin to footnotes to something larger that I haven’t written yet (ah, the cruelty of the first page). I use scraps of paper from wrappings, drafts, discarded printouts, envelopes. Sometimes I collate them – a concoction of inks coming out of different writing instruments – Lamy Safari, Pilot Pluminix, TomBow, Sheaffer, dip pen – and pencil markings (Palomino, Faber, Tombow) on square or almost square paper scraps piled next to the laptop and kept warm by its busy circuits. They are these paper scraps like Proust’s paperolesTemps Perdu not included. Perhaps Marcel, too, felt the pressure of good paper, the tyranny of the good nib. I don’t know. But unlike Proust my writings are immaterial and perhaps better fitted to binary code not to ink inscriptions. What use is a good nib if the product is unworthy of its iridium magnificence?

I shall copy. Copy books must be my companions. Dedicate myself to producing the perfect A, or the ideal g or the well-formed k. Submit to the tyranny (nay, the refuge) of form since I cannot realise the ideal of substance. Become a Vere Foster disciple and revere his Copy Book. “Lettering Plain and Ornamental” it says on the cover and it is Number 10 of the Vere Foster Original Series. It is bound simply with a piece of thread. I like its discipline and simplicity.

Each page features a writing style: Roman; Italic; Egyptian; Engrossing; Old English; German text; Old English Ornamented, and so on. Letters are written paradigmatically in squares and it is within the empty squares stacked neatly below that the student is called upon to emulate them. Attentiveness is required. Precision is demanded. Form is all. Copying letters is an exercise in meditation, a celebration of inwardness as the mind is captured by the movement of the pen, the gliding of the ink, the borders of the empty square within which the form has to abide and comply. No intellectual strain is required, no inventiveness demanded. There is no need for a substantial contribution. Copy books are perfect for my immaterial writing.

Today's object at Inklinks: Vere Foster's Copy Book Number 10

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