Harlan Ellison's Watching...

Harlan Ellison

You know, I get, I get faxes all the time and, uh, they're never signed. It bothers me. It really bothers me. I know it's part of the Electronic Age, and people say, "Well, we send 'em over our personal computer". Well, that's an explanation, but it's not an excuse. I get a letter from someone and it says, "Sincerely" and there's a blank space and then their name is typed. I get very annoyed. I just automatically get annoyed. I don't know why.

I love fountain pens. As you can see I have a lot of them. I keep them, I keep them in a wonderful box that I got here. It's got a tambour door, it opens like this and a drawer pulls out. I use real ink. These are all beautiful fountain pens. This one is a Recife. This one is called The Victory. One of the things I talk about all the time on the Sci-Fi Channel's that you should operate at the level of technology that best serves the job you're going to do. If you work best with a PC, that's fine. Then use it. If you work best with a typewriter. Do it. If you work best writing creatively with a fountain pen in your hand writing on a piece of paper, then do it.

And I gotta tell you folks, a letter is still a letter if it's written by hand. Even if you got the worst handwriting in the world - and mine is not terrific. None the less, When you get a signed letter you know that there was a human being behind it, not some cold thing that you got off a PC.

I got, ah, the reason I'm doing this here sitting at the table with the pen because I've got some stuff to clear up. But, I got a call form the editor of Sci-Fi Universe Magazine. He said, "We got a hit, uh, about you and, uh, from someone named "Crazy Mama". And I said, "Oh, that's wonderful". He says, "Yeah, it's not really nice that America On Line makes everyone use a pseudonym because it encourages bad behavior. They can hide behind the pseudonym". Uh, and this woman, some doctor somewhere or other, wrote a really kind of snotty thing. And I don't respond to these things usually. I have no, since I have no computer, no modem, I can't respond. But I decided this time I would. So, I handed her her head. Real mean, long and I took great joy in writing it. And I wrote it because it was a human being responding to a cold, "I'm a coward, hiding out behind the Internet" kind of message. And I show you myself sitting with a fountain pen because it keeps you in touch with your hands, with your life. It's like using a watch with real hands on it instead of a digital. These things are things that make you understand that the Electronic Age still needs to be unplugged every once and a while.

From Sci-Fi Buzz, episode 146

Publishing Rights to 'Harlan Ellison's Watching' copyright 1996 the Killimanjaro Corporation.