11 May 2010

Omer 42: Bic, Stic...Ick

Omer Day Forty-Two

Cave Drawing
Hammer and Chisel
Wax Tablet and Stylus
Quill
Pen
Printer
Screen
Digital Mind Meld

I was staring at a pen yesterday--a transparent pen.  It's of a cheap, Japanese variety that I have bought for the last few years.  Like any good, cheap pen, I like the way it writes and feels.  As I sat there admiring it, I looked at the table where I was sitting and saw several Bic Round Stic pens laid out before me and they were transparent, too.  And then I realized that transparency in pens is *in.*

Why?

In our deconstructed age, transparency is the conceptual tool we use for taking things apart:  seeing what's inside liberates our will from the discomfiting notion that we may not be in control of our destiny.   Cave painting is at the opposite end of this spectrum.  Done in darkness lit by fire and conveying the superstitious, the magical, the elemental, and the religious, there is ancient mystery, calling for interpretation, on cold cave walls.

Someone in marketing at Bic decided that the pen should be called Round Stic.  "Drop the *K*" became the theme of the presentation that day--it mirrors Bic.  The man who started the company in 1945, Marcel Bich, dropped the *H* from his name in naming his organization, so a pattern emerges.  It seems that when we reveal, through writing, something of our own singular experience of life's mystery, we experience a loss.

Still staring at these transparent pens on the table and now thinking of loss, I was reminded of the ritual in Jewish life when the Torah is lifted above the prayers and some raise their pinkies or slightly cover their eyes in order to shade pure revelation.  Direct communication with the word needs to be mediated, veiled, even hidden to a degree.

Too much exposure leads to plastic, transparent *stics* on a table.  You could rub two of those together all day long and you'd never really get to fire.

2 comments:

Dave said...

And then I realized that transparency in pens is *in.*

this comment may not be on point for your larger discussion but permit a (somewhat) aged one to point out styles of Bic pens have been transparent for years and years. through elementary, junior and senior high school in the '60s, i purchased (and knawed on) countless $0.19 Bics with blue caps and clear plastic bodies. how else to see how much ink had been used?

this note gives me, albeit in a very indirect way, the opportunity to ask "so what about that wndow which was in the blueprints for the Ark?

Eliot said...

I'll add some Bic history too. The Round Stic was originally called the Biro, but there was an Intellectual Property issue with that (probably infringed someone else's trademark). The dropped k probably relates back to the Bic Clic, the first retractable Bic, probably from the late 60s.