Why Pencils (iii): From Petroski.


From everyone’s favorite pencil tome, The Pencil (by Professor Petroski).  Pencils are:

“…a metaphorical bridge that can carry from mind to paper the lines of a daring real bridge, which can cause jaws to drop, or the words of a daring new philosophy, which can cause eyebrows to arch.”

Please see also, from the archives:
Why Pencils? (i)
Why Pencils? (ii)

7 Responses to “Why Pencils (iii): From Petroski.”

  1. Shane says:

    What a great book–The Pencil. I first found it about 15 years ago in Brigham Young University’s library, deep in the engineering section. Then I had to have my own copy so I special-ordered it from the book store there. (Didn’t I know about Amazon back then?) I have loved geeking out for friends and coworkers by pontificating for them on pencils and graphite (my knowledge of which is scant compared to all that is held in The Pencil) whenever pencils come up in conversation. I once had a coworker innocently wonder aloud why a pencil has six sides. “Well, let me tell you…” Your nerd cred can really take a bump up with this book. Just recently my mom came across a hardbound library edition of The Pencil that a library was apparently (gasp) purging from its collection. She bought it for me, durable library dustcover protection and everything. Great book. Thank you, Professor Petroski!

  2. Palimpsest says:

    Yes, great book that. The only (annoying) thing about it is that there are no references to his sources.

  3. Gunther says:

    Shameless plug: I have compiled a list of books that more or less deal with pencils; it can be found at “Der Bleistift im Buch”. Most of the titles are in German but maybe that list is of interest nevertheless.

  4. Stephen says:

    Hmm, the 2004 Alfred Knopf paperback edition has “Notes” and “Bibliography” sections amounting to 52 pages. I guess there are other editions that omitted these references?

  5. Professor Petroski lists the sources in the trade paperback I have at the end in the notes section, by page. There are no in-text references in parentheses or super-script numbers referring to footnotes/endnotes. Coming from an academic background, I had originally assumed that this was because this edition of the book was aimed at popular audiences for whom constant in-text references might be annoying. But then I thought, heck, who am I kidding? They’re annoying to academics, too. : ) Maybe I have a different edition?

  6. ThirdeYe says:

    I finally got the book from the library to read. Haven’t had a chance to start it yet though. Looks interesting.

  7. Palimpsest says:

    Yes, I meant to say footnotes. I have to constantly look at the notes at the end and then go to the bibliography to check the book he’s referring too. But hey, great book anyway. :)

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