I bought a Moleskine notebook this week after years of wanting one but not justifying the cost (this one is 2.5 x 4.25” and cost $10).
(image from Barnes and Noble dot com) It has a tiny pocket in the back and is smaller than my hand, which means I can actually carry it everywhere I go, unlike my collection of larger notebooks that each have the beginnings scribbled inside that promise to be my portable collector of experiences and observations but end up resting in my bookcase. The carrying of a notebook has brought up contemplations of what should be put in there (allowed in there?) and how it all should be organized. I really don’t think these questions are trivial, especially if I’m to use any of this later. It echoes my considerations/uncertainties of tagging, which I still can’t answer. What’s a good way to catalogue thoughts? And why?
date (time) / setting (school thoughts or walking thoughts or thoughts while cooking – this could mean a lot of notebooks) / theme or concept or classification (much like setting)
And, skipping ahead of the difficulty of actually creating an organizational system, once categories are created, how do I keep up with them?
Talking with my friend, Chelsea, about notebooks the other day, she had the idea of using labels (like the ones in library books) to catalogue her various notebooks. I like her idea. I used to try and keep a table of contents in my notebook before, but I think I’ll try again, hopefully with more diligence/fervor. Instead of trying to guess how many blank pages to leave at the beginning of the notebook, which has been a problem, I think I’m going to glue in additional pages at the front of the notebook. With each entry/day, I’ll have the setting and nature of thinking in brief, kind of like tags…
I’m uncertain if these will be useful, but this has to be an improvement over keeping (or not keeping) six notebooks simultaneously with no distinction aside from date which has little relevance (for the most part) to thinking. Then there’s this thinking here (digital notebook), how does that fit in relation to the (paper) notebook? Better think of categories for my categories.
And then there’s use again, the useful versus the useless (like Jeff Rice’s useless archives or Jenny’s Rice’s pop archives talks at this year’s Conference on College Composition and Communication). What I decide to capture may not even be the useful thing, but it could be, even in its uselessness.
6 thoughts on “considering the everyday”
so we were talking last night about what makes something “useful” in terms of archives…like, aren’t the books in the hornback archive just as useless as say, this random box of papers and old id’s or credit cards that sits in my office? is it “useful” because somebody deems it to be so? because we’ve decided to make it a permanent fixture rather than it’s inherent temporality? is everything inherently temporal? even a book – the various meanings that book has to it’s creator, publisher, the tree that made the paper, the hands the book has been through, the library who keeps it on a shelf, the person who accidentally spills a cup of coffee on it and ruins it…those individual happenings are all temporal, but what makes it “useful” or “worthy of preservation” is someone’s belief or opinion that it’s temporal state is worth preserving. think about this for notebooks – each page might be an event, a thought, an idea, all temporal in nature but with potential to be something linked to other somethings, and at some point we decide that our notebook is worthy of saving. it’s interesting how we obsess over notebooks (well, at least people like you and i) before we even begin to write in them…recognizing the simultaneous temporality and permanence of every single word (because we know we write with the intention to keep).
we were also talking about how we categorize and how time is so important – in genre, like, the beat poets or postmodernism or fluxus, they are all decade-specific, and how even if i write beat poetry in 2012 it’s not REALLY beat poetry, is it? and we also have archives of non-linear things, like…instead of having one book and the life it takes through the many hands it touches, that’s not archived. instead, the book would be archived alongside other books by the same author, or alongside other artifacts it is somehow related to horizontally (which sort of retains time as essential). so what makes something useful, then? is it useful because of it’s relationship to other things but not in and of itself? hmm.
Yeah, this is sort of a head scratcher for me that I expect will continue to be even with focused energy. Usefulness is not easily determined, and sometimes I laugh at my attempts that feel like almost premeditating what is/could be useful. Like my collecting of items that could be of use-yarn scraps, bits of fabric and buttons, sheets of tin, etc. Sometimes I notice my gathering of something for someone that doesn’t exist yet, I don’t know such a person, but I think someone someday will like/need this something. They aren’t useful until I put them in relationship to something, an idea, other materials, another person; until then they’re just findings stacked in craft boxes?/. Hmm indeed.
It makes me think of Joseph Cornell’s boxes, that he described as “a diary journal repository laboratory, picture gallery, museum, sanctuary, observatory, key…the core of a labyrinth, a clearinghouse for dreams and visions” and I see these all as connections/relations.
Still head scratching.
Something that I’ve been thinking about over the last few days are collections. A very broad and general subject to be certain. But one of the thoughts that followed was, how are collected things valued?(most specifically by the collector)
While I don’t think that it is universally true, the idea that I kept coming back to is that an item is valued (thus deemed collectible) based its past, current, or potential future uses. So yarn scraps, or any scraps for that matter, would be collected because perhaps someday they will provide a function that is currently unknown. They are collected for their potential.
Or like with the pop archive, or useless archive, they are collected for what they can provide in a moment. The useless archive satisfies a curiosity, “what happens if I bring these things together?” Where a pop archive may collect moments of very temporary satisfaction. Both of which are valued responses.
sorry for getting all up in your blog space.
No worries, you’re welcome here!
Yeah, potential has a lot of…potential. I like it. You guys have definitely got me thinking about “box logic” again, and how in any composition the lid remains off, ouvert. So that the objects/things the composition houses can be taken out and related to something else in another circumstance. Whatever is pressing/interesting at that very moment. Who knows what it could/will be in the next.
Thought to come back to: distant reading. See: Derek. Franco Moretti. Visualizations/handles for data sets.