Deepity of the week: Jesus the Pencil


A deepity is a term introduced by Daniel Dennett: “The term refers to a statement that is apparently profound but actually asserts a triviality on one level and something meaningless on another. Generally, a deepity has (at least) two meanings; one that is true but trivial, and another that sounds profound, but is essentially false or meaningless and would be “earth-shattering” if true.”

This one is goes a little beyond being a deepity, and just feels silly to anyone who doesn’t believe its central concept. It all depends on the idea that a pencil that hasn’t been sharpened is dull, aka it has no physical point. That is true, and everyone can agree on that.

The secondary idea is that a pencil that has a dull point has no reason for being, which we are supposed to immediately agree with. Everyone can feel clever in their connection between these two uses of the word ‘point’. Then we immediately pull the rest of the deepity into the equation, and let Jesus take the wheel.

Without Jesus, life is physically dulled? No, of course it means that life is meaningless. You are the equivalent of an unopened box of number 2s, taking up space in a 12 year olds backpack.

Now the obvious problem here is that there is no justification for this connection between pencils and Jesus, they are completely dissimilar. But ignoring that, pencils are wonderful whether sharpened or not. For one, most of them have these great erasers, and I can’t tell you how many times I had to pull out a pencil during school, even if its tip was shattered, and use it to erase. A completely dull pencil, that has never been sharpened, can actually still write (though I’ll admit the work is pretty sloppy, you got me Jesus). Finally, a supply of non-sharpened pencils is a comfort, ask anyone whose pencil snapped or became too small to use.

Of course, life is easier if I imagine myself as someone’s small wooden tool.
(Actually, that doesn’t sound too bad)


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