I have about ten notebooks currently in my possession. This may not sound like a lot, but they have notes in them from every class and every guest lecture I’ve attended as a graduate student. I write on every page and am very sparing with the use of paper. So it is a lot, actually.
I’m about to enter a summer of what is known as “comprehensive exam study.” It is about as bureaucratic as it sounds.
In order to prepare for it, I’ve been going through these notebooks, deciding what I need around me as I attempt to think this summer.
And the notebooks don’t want me to.
Here are some excerpts from my notebooks, at random.
why does apostrophe allow a move to the present?
thing: “a gathering of people to make law” (Saxon)
(Joy[c]e: thing mode)
the occasion for
in and what
comes out is
a new modality
but for Cecil [Taylor]
of the self
“consent not to
be a single
thing” Read More
Sometimes I watch how other people use paper.
It upsets me when I see someone write only one side of a sheet or write on alternate lines of ruled paper.
I grew up writing on every inch of paper I could find, not out of worry for the forests but for paper itself. I used, for the most part, very ordinary notebooks. Once I found an empty notebook from my mother’s college days and I used that. It was very yellow. Today I buy Moleskines (which, from the looks of the graduate classes I’ve been attending, some writers use all the time) only when I know they will be carefully used and preserved. Typically I only buy their daily planners or their most ordinary softcover notebooks to copy out my favorite poems.
You could say I have a kind of disgust for ill-used notebooks.
And then I have a stack of paper of all kinds: junk mail, receipts, old assignments no one will want anymore. I write on their empty backs: notes for poems, grocery lists, lists of things to do. I use post-it notes very sparingly. I think they’re dangerous.
It turns out there are older relatives in my family who use paper in this same way. I can’t say whether I learned this habit from them or if it simply runs in the family like a, I like to think, good gene.
Here’s an example from my college days. Notes from a college guest lecture on the Israeli-Palestine conflict written on foolscap: