I keep shopping lists. Little scraps of paper torn from memo pads sent to me by NGO’s I sent money to long ago.
I’ve had “notebooks” on my list this week. I went shopping today, I forgot my list, but I remembered to buy notebooks.
I like composition books. The ones with glued spines, not the spiral wire. They take me back.
I have note-taking capacity with my ipad tablet, and I use it a lot. But it never seems quite right for keeping a journal. I download software updates and things move around. I deleted an email address the other day and I lost a bunch of notes, because the new software download decided to associate these notes with that email address.
So I am backtracking some here, into a simpler type of note-keeping. My correspondents tell me, at times, of how they keep track, and of whom they keep track, including themselves, and some of them still use paper and hands and a drawing stick. This seems like a good thing to do. All reliably in one place.
It goes beyond, that, though. How we communicate is related to what we communicate. We don’t say the same things in different mediums, because we don’t really use quite the same language. Language is affected by context. What I say with my dominant right hand is different from what I say pecking at this tablet, and also different from what I might have to say if I decided to keep a left-hand notebook.
None of these paper notebooks will tell me anything, either. They will be silent. I will not be given spelling corrections, or signals of arriving email. They will not play me music in the background. They will not shine with electronic light.
Over the last few years I have taken to coloring. My chosen media are usually paper and chalk pastel, though I have ventured into other forms. These tabulae rasae are not like computers, can never be like computers, because the whole point of computers is to make them more like ourselves; chatty and controlling, shining and questioning. Always in your face, always anxious and demanding.
The blank page does none of this. It merely waits, and if you draw upon it whatever pictures or pictographs are your preference, it still waits. Maybe you pin it to the wall, maybe you somehow transform it into another, more excited medium. Or maybe you just forget about it, leave it on a shelf to gather dust.
But it never sits there shining, enticing your touch of the “publish” button, the email attachment. It waits, it gets dusty, the wind tears it off the wall and blows it out the window. It never goes anywhere without bringing you with it, or else leaving you forever.
Art is not eternal, this has been said. Neither is the internet, but I like how paper doesn’t have pretences. It’s here and then at some point it’s gone forever, and nobody much kids themselves otherwise.