My little black book
January 6, 2012
Like many artists, I've gone through periods of writing down
fleeting thoughts in a little journal. Some of the entries are pretty
personal--which I'll tell you about later.
Right now we have a worldwide viral epidemic of "gratitude journaling."
This is where folks put down a few nice things that happened during the
day. A lot of the good stuff takes place under the covers at bedtime,
and is not meant to be shared. As my daughter Sara says, "It's not a
journal, it's a brain exercise." Fact is, there's considerable evidence
it makes us into better people, maybe better artists.
Sara just closed out last year's Moleskine
and started this year's. The Italian company that makes these beautiful
books with ribbon bookmarks, elastic closures and acid free paper
follows a tradition started in Paris about 1850 by a small stationery
company that allegedly supplied Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest
Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, and Henri Matisse. The celebrated Australian
traveller and Songlines author Bruce Chatwin used the little books so
voraciously that in 1986 he bought up all copies then available.
These books are more than journals. They're a way of life--key,
says the Moleskine promo, to "culture, imagination, memory, travel and
Understanding that we become what we think, advanced Moleskiners
avoid three main negatives--nostalgic regret, adherence to outcome, and
fearful anticipation. These sorts of thoughts, common to all humanity,
are banned from the tiny pages. Proper Moleskiners stick to a positive,
I find mentioning things that no one else must know about, even
if I have to erase it right after, to be particularly valuable. For
example, last night I wrote, "Three square inches in the lower left
centre of that 11" x 14" are rather excellent." But I wouldn't want this
sort of flagrant boasting to get around. Keep it under your bonnet, eh?
And even though I erased it right after, I wouldn't want my journal and
all that positive erased info getting into the wrong hands.
PS: "To lose a passport was the least of one's worries: to lose a Moleskine
notebook was a catastrophe." (Bruce Chatwin)
Esoterica: Painter Nicoletta Baumeister
uses her journal for another purpose: "A poem, haiku or a small drawing
at night has the effect of driving all other thoughts away. The
narrowed focus and purity of intent creates a sense of calm after a day
of supersaturated activity. It also affords feelings of satisfaction,
job well done, if only in the tiniest work, so that I slip seamlessly
into excellent sleep. Too many people out there have insomnia!"
Baumeister does it again in the morning: "Gratefulness thoughts in the
morning light are about the setting of the daily lens. What will we take
in, what will we seek and what is today's sense of self? Feeling
grateful puts my feet on solid ground, able to work out the next step;
whereas, asking what I don't have sets my day on a frantic course."