Tuesday, September 23, 2014

In praise of: stationery

The Independent notices a book about stationery.  James Ward’s Adventures in Stationery: a journey through your pencil case (Profile Books), to be precise. As precise as Ward is about the appeal of stationery. Not just paper – we’re talking, or at least he is, about drawing pins, highlighter pens and staples too.  He says:
“At work, my colleagues might notice that I bring in my own stationery rather than use the stationery in the office, but they probably wouldn't try to engage me in conversation about it. Online, it's completely different.” [...]  
“Without wishing to overstate it,” says Ward, aware that he’s overstating it, “stationery has created civilisation. Language is how we make sense of the world, and written language gives us an aggregated sense of knowledge. That only happens because of stationery.”
I point out that this has more to do with pens than, say, desk tidies. “Well, yes, I suppose there are less essential items,” he says. “But if you’ve got pens, you need to put them somewhere, don’t you? You can’t just have them rolling around.”

Indeed. You want those pens stationary. 
“There are people who are football obsessives,” he says, “who can name teams going back years and remember what minute such-and-such a goal was scored. They’re considered normal guys who like their football. And there are people who memorise endless Beatles facts, you know, who played what instrument on which album and so on, and that’s also deemed cool. But if you apply that same interest to something like stationery, you’re mocked.”

I am not mocking him: he is onto something here, and I like his blog I Like Boring Things because he is concerned about mathematical accuracy. He is sound on peas and cheese. Quote unquote:
I do not think that “an Eiffel Tower” is a helpful unit of weight for measuring cheese consumption.

Peas, cheese, pins and staples. So here are the Staple Singers  live in 1972 at Wattstax with “Respect Yourself”:

Fun fact: Pops Staples and Te Ururoa Flavell have never been seen in the same room.

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