Tag Archives: essay

I, Pencil

photograph by FadderUri
photograph by FadderUri

One of the things I am interested in (in relation to props) is the way in which our world makes objects, or as I like to call it, the “genealogy of things.” For example, a book is made of a cover and paper; the paper is sewn together and covered in ink. The ink was put on the paper in one factory while the paper was made in another. Further, the paper originally came from a tree, which lived in a forest separate from all the factories.

I find it a little hard to explain, which was why I was so happy when I came across “I, Pencil”, an essay by Leonard Read, originally published in the December, 1958 issue of The Freeman. I hope this excerpt from near the beginning will explain what I’m talking about:

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

So on this holiday weekend, take a break from working in the props shop and read the full essay of “I, Pencil” on WikiSource.