Issue #90

Spring 2024

The Futility of Ideas

by Cassie Margalit

I am a pencil—and yet you deny me my structure, spindly fibers of wood pulled together taut, a raft crashing through a storm, the raft that kills the storm—the storm is I. Does anyone realize how rafts work?

"'If one realizes how rafts work, one realizes the true secrets a pencil holds.' These devastating words uttered by John Austria will quickly change the view of all who behold them." — Penrose Chicago

The raft emanates from the waves. What a mistake to conceive of a desert island. You have a war between the land and the sea for original genesis. It doesn't matter anyhow. You think the pencil has a mother? You think the pencil has a father? You think a pencil's born at all? A pencil dies. The function of a pencil is to drag itself towards death. I have a profound message to teach (And they wait in silence (beat.) crying for the dawn).

Yes, if one looks at the schoolboy's hand, tears, perhaps, trickle down the cheek. The arm functions as a myelin sheath to drip the tears di-rect-ly onto the sheet of paper. Well, one thinks the tears change the meaning of the piece. But tears… tears aren't words!

(A nodding sweeps across the room. Can a feeling commence? Mr. Pencil, I am happy...)

Words are key to the abstraction of myself, the pencil. Does the pencil utter scribbles? The crayon utters scribbles. The pencil finds greatness in grey. Perhaps the pen supercedes, with its sliding and screaming across the page but the pencil, I find myself the basis, of art, of words—structure! Does anyone know the pencil? The manufacturers on the floor do not and they are incurious, the managers can see everything and they are blind. Who can know the pencil, then?

The answer: (gloriously) I, the pencil. There is no knowing. There is only transcription. What a futile idea to imagine creativity. The pencil is not creative, the pencil is grey, elementary school children shy away from my might and it enraptures, binding, the realization gripping fast. The pencil is the source, not the medium. When one picks up a pencil one feels only raw ideas. Ideas of my own! My children. My beautiful children who I use to write with, you're the pencil here!

(A cheer!)

Thank you, thank you, thank you… Thank you... I am a pencil. Though medium is a redundancy. Progress! There is nothing but things. Endless things. Things that pour out of the end of a pencil. Human brains are insufficient for you know nothing.

"You know nothing" — A Pencil

The computer is a devilish machine. The computer creates separation. The computer does not create only makes illusions. The illusion of a general manager. The illusion of knowing. In the time it takes to inscribe a single letter with a pencil one can press five to ten keys if one has experience. That's simply unforgivable. There's not enough writing prompt for that! What'll come out besides a mindless stream of faux-creative nonsense?


And you think that anyone could feasibly do anything? It's all a part of nature, baby, free will's a myth and we're here along for the ride. The pencil inscribes all that the pencil creates. The pencil destroys. The pencil has a finite amount of pencil within it. All pencils are indistinguishable. I am in your pocket right now. I am spewing something in your pocket right now. I am living. My heart beats— do you feel my heart beat? It is in unison. A holy unison.

If you take one lesson away from the pencil, let it be that you are nothing more than a pencil. You are onstage. You are offstage. The stage does not exist. The stage is a pencil. Human ideas are insufficient for you know nothing. Writing prompts are the answer. The pencil does not have to create because creation is impossible. It observes. It inscribes according to the formula of knowledge embedded within it. It wears down. It collapses. It replaces itself and keeps writing. Madly writing. Introduction guiding the body to a conclusion. One day we will have industrially produced writing prompts, ready to supplant the feeble minds of those who believe in creation.

If you are to take one lesson away...

(And there was no answer, for a cheer drowned out, but the repetition slid longways, your liver squelched at that moment and there was a great staring. For your organs, it was revealed, were made out of wood, and you didn't know where you were and you didn't know where you were going. The doctors showed up and they were silent for their handwriting was done in scribbles.)

Author Bio


Cassie Margalit is a writer whose works have previously been featured by A Thin Slice of Anxiety Press and Litmora Literary Magazine. She is currently working on a novel that has massively ballooned in scope.