In Praise of the Pencil

Pencil biting

It is the most sophisticated communication device ever created, with its own built-in replacement cartridge and delete feature. No, I’m not talking about the computer, I’m talking about the pencil.

The modern pencil was invented in 1795 by Nicholas-Jacques Conte, a scientist serving under Napoleon. The key to Conte’s invention was a form of pure carbon called graphite, which the Aztecs had already used as a marker hundreds of years earlier. It was, at first, mistakenly believed to be a form of lead (hence the term “pencil leadโ€). It was officially relabled graphite in 1789, from the Greek word graphein, meaning “to write.”

The word pencil is older. Derived from the Latin term pencillus, “little tail,” it was first applied to the ink brushes used for writing during the Middle Ages, but was later reassigned to Conte’s marvelous new invention.

Most important of all, however, is a fact known by writers and school children for over two hundred years: the pencil, unlike the computer, provides a unique and irreplaceable form of…

Chew therapy.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, Humor, Mitchellaneous, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to In Praise of the Pencil

  1. carhicks says:

    My pencils and pens are all chewed up or broken. This was very interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ๐Ÿ˜† So hilariously true!! Great post, Mitch!!โ˜บ๏ธ

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I found the solution in my stylus ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Francina says:

    So true, great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. revruss1220 says:

    Your post is further proof of the direct link between writing and chewing… something. Maybe now someone will invent the answer to the question you pose.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. M.B. Henry says:

    Great share on the backstory of a common tool ๐Ÿ™‚ I used to chew pencils all the time. I switched to mechanical and don’t chew anymore. They just don’t taste the same lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. cricketmuse says:

    As a teacher, I deplore finding a chewed pencil. Savage nibblers are rather intimidating. What else do they gnaw on?

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I love the quote from You’ve Got Mail: “…a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.”

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Perhaps a teething ring attached to the laptop is the answer. It doesn’t have the same taste for the creative mind, but it can be chilled to help soothe the pains of writer’s block.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. cat9984 says:

    And is much better than a computer for tapping someone on the shoulder to get their attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Nancy Ruegg says:

    You DO ruminate on the most interesting topics, Mitch. I never before considered the therapeutic qualities of pencil chewing! As another former teacher, I’m with Cricket Muse, above. Chewed pencils always seemed a cause for concern. Germs, for one!

    Liked by 1 person

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