Essay: Splendid Sacrifice
September 29, 2013
The most difficult thing I have to do before I started to write my draft is to decide whether I should use the fountain pen or the computer. The fountain pen, my 18-year-old birthday present from my father, lies silently on the desk. The golden rings on two ends of the pen shine in the afternoon sun. Unscrewing the cap smoothly with little force, I can feel the integration of the screw thread on the cap and the body. I hold the pen and start to write on the paper. The broad nib, decorated with meticulously carved curves, is responding to my force by bending itself and rebounding immediately after I lift is from the paper. Unlike those round tips, which usually tangent with the paper at a tiny point, the tips of this pen is a pyramid with fillet so that one face of the tips forms a section with the paper, bring better support to the pen. Since high school, I have tried or owned a large amount of pen produced all over the world but no one can be more unique and refined than this pen. In the era when mass production is main stream, the nibs of my pen and the rest of same model are made, from shaping the material to polishing the tips, by one person, Mr Nagahara, a 81-year-old Japanese craftsman in pen production. For curiosity, I had watched a video about the production of the pen. The machine to polish the nibs looks like the grinder used in the high school technique course. No laser or even a ruler is used to measure the size of the nibs. Everything is done expertly by two hands except the final check with the magnifying glass. How long did he spend on refining the design and skill? The thick
Chen 2 callus is the best proof for his life-long undertaking and the impeccable shape of nibs is the best evidence of his continuous polishing on the design. A man sitting in front of the work station and patiently polishing a piece of tiny alloy gold. I wonder that to make such a masterpiece, the sacrifice and devotion are incredibly great.
The moth burnt in the flame in Annie Dillard’s essay, Transfiguration, is such a great symbol of sacrifice. In Transfiguration, Dillard witnesses a moth burnt to dust in the campfire and resembles what she saw to the life of a writer. “Her moving wings ignited like tissue paper, enlarging the circle of light in the clearing and creating out of the darkness”(399), a very detailed depiction, shows her tendency on selecting these details. She represents a splendid creature sacrificing to create light to the surrounding rather than a nameless negligible bug in a dark wet corner. Further, the moth acted positively: “flapped into fire” and “dropped her abdomen”(399), two positive actions of the moths, suggest a fearless creature that sacrificed devotedly. Being a witness of the death of moth in fire, she resembles the sacrificing figure of moth to the sacrifice of a writer. The moth, as a symbol, is to reflect the degree of sacrifice a writer might similarly sustain. “Burned for two hours without changing, without bending or leaning” (399), this is the degree of sacrifice for moth that deserves the description such as “hollow saint” and “flamefaced virgin” (399). Same degree of sacrifice is necessary for being a writer: “I tried to tell them what the choice (becoming a writer) must mean....You must go at your life with a broadax...” indicated the degree of unconditional sacrifice for being a writers. Victor Hugo, in his legendary novel Les Misérables, he created a character, Valjean, who shed more light on the reason for one to choose the most tough sacrifice.
Valjean in Les Misérables was a prisoner who once stole some bread when he was
Chen 3 starving. After he was on parole, he became a thief again, stealing the silvers in a church, and again was caught. This time, he was exonerated from the police and forgiven by the Bishop of the church, while he