They saw you coming

Moleskine: £15 sketch book you’re too afraid to draw in. They saw you coming.

John Allison.

I see a lot of notebooks at work. Everyone’s got a notebook. It’s usually a Moleskine. And everyone always has a pen at hand. In meetings, I constantly see the latter poised over the former, ready to jot. Five minutes later, the writing device has been abandoned—tucked behind an ear, maybe (in sheepish admittance to the idea-not-practice-ness of the whole thing). Some stubborn fools will leave the writing device out, laid to rest upon the page; or maybe they’ll fidget with it, bang the tip around on this surface and that, like the words just need some jostling.

It wounds me, but I do this too. Constantly. I’ve been wondering why. I suspect I have an answer.

Notebooks used to be a precious thing. To me, anyway, they were a precious thing. Yeah, I’ll admit it. I treasured my notebooks. I had a Moleskine or two—or three—or four. I wrote in them, in tiny handwriting with meticulously practiced letterforms.[1] They were legendary notebooks, if the ad copy is to be believed. They inevitably led to great art. I guarded them jealously, treated the pages like gold leaf, and was loathe to make any wasteful mark.[2]

These days, I have the opposite problem, even if the net effect is the same. In the day to day trenches of adult existence, it becomes plainly obvious what one needs must sacrifice and where one’s attention must lie so that one can continue eating—such that it becomes pointless and/or counterproductive to pursue any other end, even if one of those ends had once kept the screaming at bay. Not so long ago, I was paralyzed by the potential of language; now I can barely see the virtue.

  1. I suspect I am the member of a very limited group of people over the age of six who have actually practiced their cursive.  ↩

  2. I have never used up every page of a Moleskine. Ever.  ↩