Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Death of a Pen

   Not an ode to any particular pen of note, as it was one of the free ballpoints offered at a local gas station (thank you Gold Hill Liquor & Grocery). Though to be sure, of all the ones I've tried, it is the best of them out there: a nice black ink + medium-weight line, and a preferred implement for sketchbook doodles over the years. And I like the low-fi aspect of the tool, as one of the selling points behind drawing - drawing comics/cartoons to be specific - is affordable, humble and ubiquitous materials like copier paper, #2 pencils and Sharpies.

   But aside from all that, it's always well worth a moment of consideration when one thinks on the amount of time spent with this one instrument in hand. Just the simple, repeated act of holding the same object for countless hours surely deserves a passing acknowledgement of faithful service. All the places it was taken out: from satchel, pocket or dashboard; and all the places it was stuck: between teeth, behind an ear, from sweaty fingers to cold hands. One reservoir dries up, but it was only a spigot, tapping the well of ideas that continues to dribble, gush or leak from inside.

   And I think of all the things that it drew into existence, how many letters and lines. By some accounts something like thirty-five miles of a continuous line comes out the other end of an average ballpoint, and from point A to point B many weird and wonderful marks were made.

   I had an art teacher of old who would personally hand his students a new ballpoint at the start of the semester, and over the course of the course it would be the solemn duty of the aspiring talents in the class to return an empty vessel as evidence of their discharged discipline and dedication to drawing (not to mention a sketchbook full of resultant imagery).

   Reach for another, get a grip, and turn the page.


  1. A dead pen is a sacred object. They deserve a Viking's funeral.

    1. As if I already don't get enough grief on how the studio smells. On the other hand, burning plastic might be a comparative improvement... not to mention look really cool. Maybe when I kick the ink-bucket they'll build a raft out of expired implements, push it out onto a local river and set it ablaze.