Thursday, March 26, 2009

On The Superiority Of Pencils

Somewhere in the maze of this blog site is a rhapsody on the manner of sharpening a pencil. The correct, and only correct, manner of sharpening a pencil. At least, in my opinion, and that matters a lot here on North Franklin.

My grandmother kept two pencils above the front-loading Bendix washing machine. They weren’t my first love, but among the first loves of my life. I decided there was absolutely nothing better than two freshly-sharpened pencils on what passed for a shelf, thin as that might be.

One could do much worse with any other writing implement, even the Schaeffer reservoir ink pen and matching lead pencil that came in a box at Christmas. The pens got messy, the lead broke. But the yellow hexagonal pencils! They stayed put on the table, they did not need leads nor ink refills, but merely a sharpening (unless you knew enough to revolve them while writing and thus kept the point clean).

They denoted thoughtfulness, exactness, and drew fine lines for my grandfather to illustrate things for me. A jar of sharpened pencils is much like a quiver filled with arrows, ready for the battle against illiteracy, ready to put my thoughts on paper.

You never need to make lots of circles to bring the ink in, as with a ballpoint pen; it will write through anything that’s on the paper. It has pardon for our errors on the other end and it (or two of them) keeps a fine beat while we’re humming a tune.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Took a course in Naval Architecture some years back and the prof told us about turning a pencil so as the point would remain .... a point. It would also make for lines of the same width.

Exit 318.

March 27, 2009 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always smile when I think of the pencil and the space race. When we began to explore our corner of the cosmos, we soon realized that zero-gravity and the ink pen were not working together. American drive, being what it is, spent millions on developing an ink pen that would write in space. We succeeded, by the way. The Russians, on the other hand, took a more elementary approach. They used pencils in space.

March 30, 2009 8:32 AM  

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