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Musings on tools for thought

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Posted by Daly de Gagne
May 11, 2022 at 01:59 AM

 

Agreed! Fountain pens are great! It helps if you have a good shop, and I am fortunate to have found Wonder Pens in Toronto. For me, there is a place for both fountain pens and computers - both are tools for thinking, and at the same time they are tools for externalizing the product of our thought process.

Besides our thoughts, a fountain pen needs ink and paper, and a computer requires software and the ability to save and/or a means to externalize our thoughts by means of a printer on paper. The recent emphasis on note-taking software which has bi-directional linking capabilities may lead ideally to a more conscious awareness of how to gain greater benefit from our notetaking.

Amontillado wrote:
I enjoyed reading that. I’d be crippled if I had to stop using
>computers.
> >However, I’ve found that I like to think with a fountain pen. It’s both
>primitive and elegant, fragile and self-sustaining.

 


Posted by Dellu
May 11, 2022 at 07:31 AM

 

It seems to me that extremely intelligent people might not need computers that much to generate innovative ideas; and to connect concepts that they read a year ago with the concepts that they are thinking about right now.

If you are very brilliant, and have a powerful memory, your brain does most of the connection and remembering: you don’t need an external assistance. From interviews and other peoples comments, that is exactly how Noam Chomsky works, for example. He doesn’t use technology for thinking. He uses paper and pen. Computers are used only for typing. Still, he produces the most mind boggling ideas; and connects the present events with the event that happened in the 60’s and 70’ with ease.

I cannot do that. I would be paralyzed if I don’t have the data (notes) and stuff on my computer, because I have weaker brain—cannot remember details, and cannot connect complex ideas once they reach a certain level of complexity.

Yes, Einstein might not have benefited from computers. But, for the regular Joh, they are the tools which help us as close as possible to the thinking capacities of these powerful brains.

 


Posted by MadaboutDana
May 11, 2022 at 09:23 AM

 

Heh, I love this thought!

Paul Korm wrote:
It’s likely that more of what we consider the modern world came about
>because of people simply sitting with a piece of paper and a pencil and
>thinking.
> >Would Einstein have been better off using Muse :-)

 


Posted by MadaboutDana
May 11, 2022 at 09:26 AM

 

Thanks for your two replies, Dellu – both very sensible.

I was amazed and impressed to hear that Neal Stephenson deliberately eschewed his usual digital knowledge bases when putting together his plans/references etc. for the amazing Baroque Cycle trilogy of novels about the 17-18 centuries. The books (all around 1000 pages) are crammed with erudite knowledge, as well as amazingly complex, interrelated references plus, of course, a vast cast of characters, all with their little foibles and obsessions – again, all interlinked and wittily leveraged at appropriate moments.

The thought of putting something like that together without some kind of digital support brings me out in a cold sweat! But it certainly makes one think.

And yes, Neal Stephenson is extremely intelligent!

Dellu wrote:
It seems to me that extremely intelligent people might not need
>computers that much to generate innovative ideas; and to connect
>concepts that they read a year ago with the concepts that they are
>thinking about right now.
> >If you are very brilliant, and have a powerful memory, your brain does
>most of the connection and remembering: you don’t need an external
>assistance. From interviews and other peoples comments, that is exactly
>how Noam Chomsky works, for example. He doesn’t use technology for
>thinking. He uses paper and pen. Computers are used only for typing.
>Still, he produces the most mind boggling ideas; and connects the
>present events with the event that happened in the 60’s and 70’ with
>ease.
> >I cannot do that. I would be paralyzed if I don’t have the data (notes)
>and stuff on my computer, because I have weaker brain—cannot remember
>details, and cannot connect complex ideas once they reach a certain
>level of complexity.
> >Yes, Einstein might not have benefited from computers. But, for the
>regular Joh, they are the tools which help us as close as possible to
>the thinking capacities of these powerful brains.

 


Posted by satis
May 11, 2022 at 01:14 PM

 

Daly de Gagne wrote:

> Fountain pens are great! It helps if you have a good shop

I live in an area with a couple of specialist shops, as well as an active pen/ink group, but I’ve gotten nearly all my info and reviews via forums and YouTube, and I make all my purchases from retailers like Van Ness, Anderson Pens, Jetpens, and Goulet Pens. It’s the only way to get variety of stock that’s almost never available locally, not to mention good pricing.

For handling a wide range of pens nothing beats a good pen group, or a pen show.

Most of my writing is electronic, but fountain pens are superior for me to gels or ballpoints in ink choice and pen comfort (I use pens with thick sections). In extended writing sessions fountain pens also offer significantly less fatigue since ink is disbursed through capillary action so you don’t need to press on paper to make marks.

For quick notes or extended travel I’ll grab a couple of Pentel gel pens and easily make do, though.

 


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