Pencils: Shortened and Well-Utilized.

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Just like some folks enjoy Field Notes that are well-loved (and I do, too), I love pencils that have shortened themselves (or, rather, have been shortened or had themselves shortened) in the Service of Work and Art and Other Worthy Pursuits and even Totally Worthless Pursuits. My current pencilbox of choice is a battered Harry Potter case (don’t judge) with two levels*, both of which are full of pencils with a little more than half of their useful life left. The odd New Pencil that makes its way into the box stands up and proves the adage true: it gets dulled and sharpened promptly. This could explain why my pencils hit the four inch mark quickly and then take considerably longer to become too short to grip in my bent fingers.

Last week, I was admiring Elizabeth’s pencil photos, and I remembered a few other sites full of photos of pencils that get Utilized very lovingly and thoroughly. Both Gunther and Matthias have posted photos of well-loved pencils in various stages of length. And there are myriad other Pencil Users with such photos of Useful Pencil Goodness for the browsing. Comrades can get started with Elizabeth’s ongoing Chronicle of Pencil Utilization.

Are there photos that Comrades have which they might like to share? We could do a whole series of posts on Pencils that Have Seen the World and Lived to Tell the Tale.

*(I passed up an expensive new one on eBay for a cheap battered version that wound up costing me only a few bucks. It came smelling like the ashtray in a 1982 Ford Fairmont. I got the smell out and can help anyone else who has a smell that they’d like to replace with the Heavenly Aroma of Cedar and Eraser, for the asking. But this is a bizarre footnote.)

8 Responses to “Pencils: Shortened and Well-Utilized.”

  1. ana says:

    I particularly like bizarre footnotes. The more, the better.

    I also love battered, used and well-loved pencils. I was at a friend’s the other day who has a stump of a Palomino Blackwing on their kitchen island for doing the crossword puzzle. I believe its been to Japan and back a couple times. I’ll get a photo next time I’m there.

    • John says:

      I would love to see that!

      Ana, I was made to remove DOZENS of snarky footnotes from my dissertation that I still regret removing (though I think my passing might have been contingent…!). I love footnotes to death.

      Have you read Danielewski’s HOUSE OF LEAVES? Footnotes gone rampant in the best way. :)

  2. Julie Phan says:

    I want to see a picture of your Harry Potter pencil case!

    And, oh man, HOUSE OF LEAVES. That book is so eerie. I remember being afraid to leave the house or take a shower.

    • John says:

      I will try to get some good ones. :)

      When I first read House of Leaves a few years ago, I was sitting at a table late at night, with my back to the long, dark hallway in my apartment at the time. I paused in reading for a second and got chills that I still remember. That book was positively sinister, though I realized that it was simply beautiful at the end. :)

  3. Thank you for the mention–and for the interesting links!

    I’ll second the Harry Potter pencil case pictures request. :)

  4. Matthias says:

    I’d also like to see that pencil case! If a new one is expensive and a used one in not so good condition is worth a few bucks plus postage it must be a pretty good pencil case.

  5. dobro says:

    I have a box somewhere where I save the foreshortened lives of pencils past and Bics spent. Somehow, I can’t bring myself to consign them to oblivion. They deserve better than to have been slain by my deathless prose.

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