Saturday, April 14, 2007

They've All Got Pencil Envy!

As etymological origins intimate, the word pencil is diminutive of the word penis, and therefore has become a phallic symbol over the last 700 years. I'm not at all surprised to come across some competition among pencil makers to come up with the worlds largest pencil.

Since the word 'pen', meaning quill, has completely unique roots, we should see fewer attempts at making one that is large. I see only two results in google, compared to 74 results for the pencil.

Pencil makers have refined their techniques, added rubber erasers, and given us what we have today, to make it useful, but all along its remained a symbol of something else. Perhaps all of this can explain the obsessive attention that has been paid to this simple looking device. You'd think they were working with diamonds. (For an idea of how advanced the pencil has become, see this one from the 1600.)

Needless to say, I had no idea this undercurrent existed when I embarked on my quest.

And if you're here looking for you-know-what, you can forget it! Avast!


WoodChuck said...

Tyler - You may just want to try to make the pencil from the 1600s and call it a done deal. Simplest form of inputs for sure.

Tyler Farrer said...

I think there will be a progression. My first foray will be to remake an existing pencil, just to see what challenges there might be in its execution.

The 1600's version is enticing for sure! Yet, even that is a marvel, and an ingenious design.