Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Writing Instruments are the Voice of Desire

Signifying the potential of creating, idle writing instruments are the voice of desire. As such, they give the life of the idle writer an imaginary dimension. The idle writer lines them up, sharpens them, fills them up with ink, sorts them by colour or shape or maker or date of manufacture, augments their number by purchasing more (rarer instruments, slenderer nibs, novel inks), and spends time to look at them with longing. The idle writer converses with the pens - and this is a self-addressed discourse, says Jean Baudrillard. A discourse essential for the continuity of life.

As objects help us cope with the irreversible movement from birth towards death, the idle writing instruments help the idle writer to face the fact that she will produce no inscriptions to mark her presence in this world. The writing instruments represent her own death but because she possesses them she can transcend death. She looks at the pens, cleans them, puts them away, takes them out again in an endless hide-and-seek. The reality of death - of oblivion - is dispelled by the writing instruments' potential. The idle writer keeps them close to his heart. They seem to guarantee life after death - at least, the potential of - at least, the control over.

The desire to write is embedded in these objects - the writing instruments. Desire keeps the idle writer away from insanity. "If dreams ensure the continuity of sleep, objects ensure the continuity of life."

Thanks to Baudrillard for the words. All one needed to know about objects can be found in: Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects (first published 1968).



  1. Beautiful vintage nib holder... I look for them in "rummage sales"... They're so cheap... But so inspiring... If only they were still made like yours and mine today... but we only get plastic or ergonomic ones... Such a shame...

  2. Well said. I'm in a slump and cannot seem to get the words and pictures out of my head and on to paper. Yet, I continue to order a steady stream of paper, pens and pencils - glorious, lovely pencils. I'm covered up in potential!

    I stumbled across your blog via Google while doing a bit of research on Hemingway. Very enjoyable, so far. Thank you.

  3. That photo has me thinking of an 18-year old girl's mouth, with the nib maybe as dimples at the corners. Okay, I'll clean it up a little and just call the photo . . . sensuous. Paging Herr Rorschach? Nein. It's just a thought. Jack/USA

  4. Mezzo, yes, this nib holder is one of my favourite. I'll be sad to see it go when it sells in the Etsy shop. Pipedreams, thank you. There is something very comfortable in having plenty of stationery, as Dickens said.
    Jack, thanks for noticing. It is a sensual nib, an object of desire.