Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Make a Note of It

It is difficult for you to assess the diversity and ubiquity of notebooks among the belongings you have amassed over the span of years at your most recent venue or of the one you brought with you from the ones previous to that, or indeed of the ones you have lost or parted with along the way.  They range in various sizes, from the nine by twelve originally intended to serve as a sketchbook for the pen or ink or charcoal artist to the small, intricate venture intended for pocket or purse.  This says nothing (yet) about the spiral-bound (top or side) nor the steno pad, nor the reporter's notebook,  Another indeed will suffice for the various incarnations of the Moleskine, or the faux leather with perforated pages, which you took with you for a visit to England, primarily to compose notes for a lecture on The Tower in, appropriately enough, in Salisbury Cathedral, and which contained instead the names of whimsical-sounding cities and villages.

Notebooks are challenges; incentives to note odd locutions or questions such as the one you wrote in a notebook only yesterday when a customer at the Cafe Luna answered the chirp of his cell phone with a hostile-sounding challenge, "Who is this?"  You were reminded of the opening line to Hamlet, which, you're quick to argue, gets at the crux of extentialism with the lovely "Who's there?"  Notebooks are for taking souvenirs of life, for composing laundry lists, to be sure, but also to compile coded shorthand that becomes so profound, it is lost with the loss of the details of dreams experienced moments before awakening.

Skimming through used Moleskines, you find yesterday's non sequitir, something thought of great significance, but now a bleak, lonely reminder of the game the mind plays most on its own selfishness.  Some notes provoke genuine bafflement; they neither define nor describe, leaving inchoate clues in place of tangible directions.

Notebooks demonstrate promise: it used to be said that behind every successful man was a woman, which for all its high-flown rhetoric means men should suffer women when in truth the reverse would be the better approach.  Now it is said that behind every successful man is a note book.  Or two.  Or three.

Notebooks also demonstrate the reproof of the romantic notions that they are there to catch unimpeded the droplets of nature that fall among us or the inspirations.  Nothing is as uninspiring, ultimately depressing as a notebook in which the narrative thread follows only for a day or two, then ends in some cryptic italic of Finish later.  Use examples.

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