Pen, ink, and the dilettante

Dilettante: 1: a person having a superficial interest in an art or a branch of knowledge : DABBLER (Merriam-Webster)

John I. Carney
5 min readAug 31, 2020

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My new AmazonBasics fountain pen.

I admit it — I own it, in fact. I am, in some ways, a dilettante, someone who gets obsessed with a hobby, or kitchen gadget, or activity, and then sometimes loses interest in it eventually. I think all of us have a little bit of that, but I will admit that I’ve done it on multiple occasions.

Every year or two, I will tell myself that this time, I’m really, truly, going to get serious about learning the harmonica. I will give myself some sort of goal, as motivation — get comfortable enough to play a song at church, for example — but then, after the goal has passed, the harmonica will fall by the wayside for a while.

I am more than comfortable composing things at the keyboard. I wrote at the keyboard for 34 1/2 years at the newspaper; my sermons as a lay speaker are written at the keyboard; and my new book(let) was written at the keyboard. But I also doodle, especially during meetings. I take notes. I do other things for which a pen is appropriate.

During my time as a journalist, I came to love Pokka Pens, a very handy device; an inexpensive ball-point pen that is an easily-pocketable size when closed but becomes a more…

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John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at http://www.lakeneuron.com/dislike