Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Fountain Pentel: The lure of fake

The purist in Palimpsest sees Fountain Pentel and recoils. How dare you, Palimpsest thinks. How very dare you? And yet one is drawn to this impertinent hybrid if only to expose it as the imposter that it is and demolish it. 

What draws the hand to pick up Fountain Pentel is not its novel shape; its dull design and oversize aluminium clip with the lurid red plastic bit at the top doesn't do it any favours. It is the pen's claim to fountain-ness that induces the hand: Fountain Pentel - the claim is intriguing in its impertinence. Fountain is written in a font keen to invoke a sense of flex-nib writing. The silver letters are even embossed in a bid to provide a different visual and tactile experience which would have worked if only said experience was not mired by the unseemly addition of "JM20MB Japan." Nevertheless, I'm nearly sold and if that's not enough the designers of the ordinarily-shaped barrel have one more ace up their sleeves: the marbled effect. Like the fountain pens of old Fountain Pentel is a dark red accentuated by irregular highlights of red. The trick works. I reach for the Fountain Pentel and open the cap.

And lo! What a garishly red and white tip you've got, Fountain Pentel. I test it on a piece of paper resting invitingly on the shelf and yes I am hooked. It is a flexible tip and I can write thick and thin and I want to take it home despite the fact that the writing is noisy and produces a scratchy sound. It is effortless, liquid but smudge-free, fast and totally addictive. And there you have it. I despise the impersonator, deride the imposter but I am a slave to its charms. I am addicted to the Fountain Pentel's ink (which is not the "real thing") and to its flexible tip (which is not a "real nib"). And that says a lot about the lure of ideological hybrids.

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