Diehards

Friday, 4 September 2009

Dilemma

I am fuming at the moment, the term 'incandescent with rage' doesn't even begin to cover it. So, in order for me not to embarrass myself by delivering an unthought-through tirade on the inherent evils of an aging capitalist system, I present a rather mild dilemma.

I like to have beautiful things around me but not inert or useless beauty, I like my stuff to perform too. Thus I have a teapot that is not only quite lovely it keeps tea hot and pours without dripping too; solid wood kitchen counters that act as a huge chopping board and are easy to clean as well as looking just the way I like, and a computer that not only does everything I could possibly require of it but is an object of such stylish good looks I have been know to take photographs of it. I could go on, but let's just say that whatever I bring into the house has to be both attractive, to me, and functional. Even the art I collect provides inspiration as well as looking just so.

But now I find myself with a conflict of form over function interests. I use a lot of pencils, and so keep a pot of them ready sharpened on my desk. Because they are on view I'm, let's say, particular about their appearance and so am always looking for pretty pencils. Finding them is not easy, but recently I found myself in a shop that sold 'vintage' pencils, some of which were these:



Gorgeous, huh? I bought all they had which was only 8. They are several of my favourite things: old, French and painted with green, as well as being pencils. I don't know exactly how old they are but they have that certain quality that seems to develop over time, and they have never been used.



My dilemma is this: they have survived in this condition for some time, if I sharpen and use them they will fairly quickly cease to exist and I won't have them anymore, and for all I know they might be the last of their kind in the whole world. So, should I keep them as mere objects of loveliness or use them as they were intended to be used?

25 comments:

Khanh Ha said...

I had a feeling that you preferred form to function with these Bas Le Bourget pencils. There are millions of other pencils you could sharpen and put them to use -- unless you also so want to know how your 'form' object feels when you press that pointed lead against paper.

In that case, waste one Bas Le Bourget -- just for 'function'.

savannah said...

i'm in agreement with khanh ha, sharpen 1 and use it! the idea being that you'll know the feel of the graphite on paper and will no longer have a need to use another bas le bourget pencil. function can then take second place to the lovely form! xoxoxo (i'm not called a spin doctor for nuttin, sugarpie!)

Rachel Fox said...

Use half, save half?
x

Titus said...

Use the lot and live with regret and a glorious memory. In a garret.

steven said...

eryl - i face a similar dilemma every so often. the challenge is to weigh up qualities of pleasure. to look at something beautiful and enjoy it ad infinitum - or to engage in a relationship with it that creates a richer history but has an end to it. i favour the idea of taking one pencil out "on a date". use one, see if it's as stunning an expereince as you imagine. if not then the other seven - (and seven is a cooler number than eight on my ship!!) - can stay in a beautiful green jar simply for looking at. steven

Jimmy Bastard said...

Och hen, sharpen them up and use them with all the indulgence of a grand lady slurping champagne fae a bucket. Use them to create another one of your masterful posts that we can all go "ooohhhhh" about.

gleaner said...

Use the lot and enjoy, otherwise they have become ornaments of capitalism. Go for it...

Wigeon said...

I agree with Savannah. You've got to try one and discover the feel of the instrument for its intended purpose, then you'll know how much use it is and what situation suits it best or if they're useless.
Although, on the other hand .....I can agree with Titus too - live for today as you never what tomorrow holds!
If you want to de-fume come over to mine and see my latest photo. I'll be living in Scotland with my new family on Monday so you're very welcome to come over to see us all in the flesh and .....of course my very cute hairy face! It's be really good to catch up with you. .

PI said...

You do like your green:)
Unsharpened pencils - I don't mean blunt I mean unused - have an awful sterile look to me and I can hardly bear to look at them.
How about keeping one for posterity and giving the rest their raison d'etre.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I've got loads of pencils too - and have the same dilemma. I keep all the lovely ones in mugs on show, and use boring-looking ones instead!

Eryl Shields said...

Khan ~ you're right, I think form just beats function for me, though I do try to balance both. I will try one Bas Le Bourget to see how it feels.

Savannah ~ the smell of a newly sharpened pencil is also one of those delicious things I delight in. I fear that if I sharpen just one I may go into a sharpening frenzy! But I will risk it, XXX

Rachel ~ half and half, mmm...

Titus ~ you've got me: the idea of living with regret and a glorious memory, in a garret...

Steven ~ I love the idea of taking a pencil on a 'date', I'm going up to Glasgow today so I will take a sharpened pencil with me and write a poem in a cafe with it!

Jimmy ~ 'a grand lady slurping champagne from a bucket'! I'll have to dust off my tiara.

gleaner ~ god, you're right, and then I'll be a collaborator: bloody hegemony.

wigeon ~ I will come over to yours tout suite. The pencils, I sense, are well on the way to being used for their purpose.

Pat ~ you've noticed! Have I told you the story of meeting an American author who on noticing I used the word green in two pieces of writing confessed she has spent years searching for just the right shade, she even wrote an article on it for a magazine!?

My pencil sharpener is at the ready, I could use them all until they get down to the green end and then keep the stubs.

Raph ~ that's what I seem to be doing, but I think these pencils are going to be used now, or at least some of them.

newjenny said...

I like objects which are either have an aesthetic of unadorned practicality, or else are delightfully useless.

Use them and you will probably find new objects of beauty will come your way. Beauty is part of the flow of it all, it is better for it not to be set and protected. Arguably.

Nice post!

Emerson Marks said...

Existential pencil angst keeps alot of up at night. I say use the pencil. Like human beings they have a shelf life, but if their lead never writes on a sheet of paper they're the equivilent of that thing Walt Disney's had done to him. You know? Had his head cut off and stuck in the fridge for a time when they can stick on a new body and he'll live again. Well, sort of.

deemikay said...

Use them!

I'm basing this on the example of Moleskin notebooks:

Bruce Chatwin used them because he was a bit OCD and hero-worshipy, so he bought all he could. But shock! The manufacturers went out of business. But years later, and after Chatwin died, production of them started again (by a completely unrelated company).

So, the plan:
1) Use your pencils;
2) get famous for using your pencils;
3) some enterprising young buck will go and start production of them.

I thank you. :p

Kim Ayres said...

Yesterday I was told of a man who has just bought a 1958 original, never been played, Fender Stratocaster, for £24,000.

Despite the fact the guy is a superlative guitarist, he has no intention of playing it. It's an investment.

Makes me want to set fire to it.

Dave King said...

You got function, you got form too. Well known, that is.

Mary Witzl said...

Use them up right now. Life is too short.

Says the woman with a whole tray of untouched watercolors.

Eryl Shields said...

New Jenny ~ you are absolutely right, what's the point of a pencil that doesn't write!?

Emerson ~ I bet you've had new football boots that felt to beautiful to soil on a wet pitch, no?

Deemikay ~ now there is a plan!

Kim ~ me too, it's not like you can use up a guitar!

Dave ~ you are adorable.

Mary ~ I didn't know you painted, or is that the point?

Kathryn Magendie said...

I would have the same thought - but the older I get, the more stuff I use instead of save - I think...maybe -


Save a couple, use a couple!

(your comment on my blog made me laugh!)

angryparsnip said...

I understand that problem, I have 4 lovely green " Totoro " pencils I have never used...
I would try one and see how it feels. That is the test. I have certain brushes that I love the way they feel on the canvas/paper... If the pencils feel good on the paper save one and use the others as they were intended.

Love that color mug you have the pencils in, that is one of my favorite greens. . . .
I think items that were made to be used, should be and the enjoyment from using then is the part of life.

You will find others. . .

Emerging Writer said...

Use them. Otherwise it's just stuff. You still have the photos.

Emerson Marks said...

Maybe, but soil them I did!

Eryl Shields said...

Kathryn ~ your blog made me laugh.

Parsnip ~ one of the pencils is just about to be sharpened for the test.

The pot's lovely isn't it, it's made by a (fairly) local potter whose work I can never resist.

Emerging Writer ~ I do have the photos, that's true! Thank you for popping in. I'll come and visit you in a sec before I hang up my blogging keyboard for a while.

Emerson ~ :)

Crafty Green Poet said...

oh i know the dilemma, but if you only sharpen one at a time then you'll use them but keep some of them as objects to admire for a fair length of time....

The Pollinatrix said...

I just have to say that it was this utterly charming post (which I so relate to) that made me want to follow your blog.