Lists, diagrams, and entries that rely on sometimes scarce context. A first draft of a poem. Hidden in the Garage Mahal.
There's so much I want to say!
1) Your notes actually remind me of Michael Faraday's (more than Baldwin's). Part of it is the content, of course, but there's also a spatial awareness of the page that the two of you share. Also, I realize that I've been intimidated by the beauty of the notes I share. I'll probably share a bit of my own note-taking process at some point, and I'm painfully aware that they are not all that beautiful or innovative. Perhaps I should do a post on "messy notes" to make us all feel better.
2) The "Garage Mahal" is a fantastic name for a notebook!
3) I am deeply interested in this question of what we can and can't know about a person from their notes. Fundamentally, the note-taker remains a mystery--often, the note-taker remains a mystery to him or herself as well. In my academic work, I've used media archeology to focus on the notebook-as-technology rather than the person keeping the notebook (although, there's still a bit of that too). For "Noted," I've allowed myself to be a bit more loose with my assumptions and more biography-based than I'd be comfortable with in academic writing.
4) I had read about Shields with horror. I might pass on that one in 2049!
5) Glad you mentioned Rebecca and Mark--I've learned a lot from observing their processes.
6) Sontag's notebooks are in LA, and I hope to see them one day!
7)Thanks for your thoughtful reflections on my work! You've helped me think through what it is I'm trying to do with "Noted"--and also, thanks for citing my book!
Mark, this post is right up my street - such an awesome read! (I'm not just saying that for the multiple shouts-out - for which: THANK YOU!)
Your notebook is such a wonderful record of your work in the Garage Mahal - I love that its entries range from the (to me) bafflingly technical to swift notes captured in the moment - and that you rely on it as if it were a utilitarian tool in your toolbox. No: toolboxES, right, Mark? More than one, I'm sure!
I'm a little nervous that my notebooking habit might be steering me in the direction of Robert Shields! I write down all of my ideas because I know I can't rely on my memory, and I'm feeling a little peeved this week having read this, from Stephen King's 'On Writing', where he describes a major block he'd encountered in writing 'The Stand':
'I circled the problem again and again, beat my fists on it, knocked my head against it... and then one day when I was thinking of nothing at all, the answer came to me. It arrived whole and complete - gift-wrapped, you could say - in a single bright flash. I ran home and jotted it down on paper, the only time I've done such a thing, because I was terrified of forgetting.'
Wow, but he's only ever jotted down an idea ONCE, in forty books? Heck, I seem to be doing a whole lot wrong in my own writing habit....!
I wish I had a history of notebooking - I first started in 2018. My archive is all very recent. I wonder how I'd feel now about any notebooks from my earlier life, if I had such a thing.
'Notebooks are helpless and fragile...' - yes, they are, in themselves. Yet there is such power in notebooks in their role of the data controllers of our thoughts and ideas, wouldn't you say?
Such a great post - I loved every word. 😊
I’m going to take your idea of sketching auto parts assembly to heart ... the other day, I pulled my racing seat from my car and put the stock seat back in place. It was only when I bolted it all down that I realized I’d forgotten one important part (the seat-belt connector). Would a little diagram have helped? I don’t know, but I’ll find out next time. I too have been inspired by Jillian’s writing on notebooks and I tried some daily journaling. Doesn’t work for me. But parts drawing ...
Fascinating post, Mark! Thanks for sharing your Garage Mahal--I loved the bits about your “new ears!” I’ve renewed my commitment to journaling each day (probably because of people like Mark, Rebecca, Jillian, and Austin Kleon) and have been pleased with the practice. I never allowed myself sketches in my “old way” of journaling, so that’s been quite fun!
Speaking of those old journals, I’ve often wanted to burn them, too--they go back to 1985 when I was just 10 years old, and so much is cringeworthy. But they remain on the shelf, and I’ll let someone else burn them after I’m gone.🤣
Loved the article on rubber carvings, btw, and have forwarded that one along to my 21-year-old son who is an amazing artist and loves all things cars. Maybe it will spark a new project for him!
Love this post, I will dive deeper into it over the weekend. I thank you for linking back to my stuff. The Zettelkasten has been untouched for several months, alas, and it may have been a fad or passing phase that I followed with some interest. But it's cool to see how you've kept your own notebooks, sketches and notes for your own interests.
By the way, this reminds of a bookbinding project that I undertaken a few years back. I used to take old hardcovered books, remove the contents and placed them with handmade folios which I sewed and glued together. At one point I was taken with the idea of a "shop book", which was half lined pages and half square grid pages that was meant to be used for people in their workshop to track their workshop or auto garage work. Made some softcover prototypes but dropped the idea when I took up other things. Haven't thought of that in years.