Visiting Montblanc's headquarters in Hamburg, Germany, I experienced how the world's finest pen is brought to life, and learn a little something about culture. Let me make you an instant expert on fine writing instruments.
I never thought much about fine writing instruments. The life I tend to live is practical and versatile. Much like my fellow Americans I shed tradition for convenience and economy. The practice of writing words has been done with half dollar ballpoint pens and pencils purchased from a drugstore. My finest "writing instruments" were dutifully sourced from hotels and other easy giveaways. Perhaps this is why I tend to prefer the keyboard. A bit of that changed when I discovered that for just a bit more (and at the right store), I could get pens made in Japan that worked better. With them I wrote more, and seemed to enjoy drawing and taking notes in a new way. Good tools are always appreciated and help you be more productive, but are writing instruments are more than just that?
Is writing like language? Does the process we use to write change what we say and the culture around us? Some academics posit that "language is culture." Then by that accord is the way we write language a function of that culture? People worry heavily that the popularity of instant messaging via computers and text messaging via phones leads to a distinct degradation in our writing and language. It is hard to argue with this if you have any experience with these communication mediums. So what about the opposite? If casual ways of writing harm formality, do more formal ways of writing increase one's level of sophistication, even temporarily?