Category: Notebook Lust

London (V & A): The sketchbooks of Leonardo da Vinci

Courtesy of The Guardian

I went to the Natural History Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum today, which isn’t too shabby considering that I am jet-lagged and trying to get my body on the local schedule after taking the red-eye in.

The Da Vinci exhibit had pages from his notebooks and sketchbooks. Seeing the mind of a genius, the range of interests…the scope of what he accomplished, is astounding.

Go see it. Worth the trip to London.

Courtesy of The Guardian

Black and Worn: Weathering a storm of the mind

I wandered around the net today, linking random connections together. Richard Thompson, John Martyn, Nick Drake.

When I visited Nick Drake’s official site (sadly out of date) I found this lovely image dominating the front page.

The front page of the Nick Drake site

A lovely, weathered, black leather notebook.

Nick Drake strikes me as a person that is a lot like I could have been. Painfully shy, suffering from depression, trying to get the ideas out in a world that was not his. When he died in 1974, he was ignored and forgotten.

Now that he is all the rage again, it important to go back and consider his life. Consider what he made in a few short years. The stories he tore out of himself, willing to share this one aspect of his life with us.

The rest, well, they are hidden in the little black book.

Number One, Almost Done

Slurred Moleskine -- Nearly Done

After more than a year, my first Moleskine notebook is nearly done.

A year!?!

Yes, a year. All that I have been using it for is work notes, jotting down the facts that make my customers and colleagues get up every morning.

Its replacement is in my bag, still wrapped in its cellophane, calling me; tempting me.

Moleskine: Joe Lavin Skewers the Cult of the Black Book

I have this search set up to deliver the things that Google’s Blogsearch finds out in the blogosphere containing Moleskine in it. Sometimes, it delivers some real gems, like Joe Lavin’s The Condensed Guide to Looking Like a Writer (found via Professor Barnhardt’s Journal).

The take-away quote from this article?

At the very least, costing $15 a pop, the Moleskine can certainly put the “starving” back into starving artist.

Read it. It’s a reminder that having the tools doesn’t make the owner an artist.

Moleskine: Made in China

It was to be expected. On Moleskinerie there was a post that highlighted that the latest Moleskines are “Made in China”. The response from the Moleskine fan community has been overwhelming: we want the old books back.

China is responsible for a large number of the consumer products that we use today. However, there is an expectation that Moleskines were better than a mass-produced throwaway consumable. I imagine we all had images of a workshop filled with dedicated craftsmen, carefully hand-binding each notebook with absolute focus and attention to detail.

Sorry folks: these books have always been mass-produced. What is irksome even to me is that Modo e Modo (or their new French corporate masters) is no longer making a pretense of selling a quality journal that is unique and worth posessing. An item that sets the owner apart as someone who takes their notes, sketches and writings seriously, as thoughts worth dedicating to a medium that will last beyond them.

It’s all about brand. And the Moleskine notebooks are the icon of the social networking brand growth vision held by so many companies today. The core, dedicated following evangelizes the product, drawing more people to try the product and love it. As with so many things, will popularity denude and degrade the product?

If it is true that the latest production runs of Moleskines are originating in China and are of a lower quality than the community has come to expect, nay, demand, of this fine piece of crafting, then the no longer have the cachet, and are no longer unique, and will die the death of a million blog posts.

I am voting for the Rite in the Rain notebooks to be the next iconoclastic notebook. The unique yellow covers and indestructible paper have made me think twice about this addiction to Moleskines. They are books designed to be noticed (try finding a black notebook in the woods after it’s fallen out of your pack!), and stand out in a coffee shop, especially one filled with darkly dressed artist types.
Moleskine, I am willing to give you a chance. The community wants to hear your answer.

Oh, and Rite in the Rain notebooks are made in Tacoma, WA!

Pencils: The New Trendy Scribe Tool

In the last year, I have used every trendy writing instrument that I have read about. Fisher Space Pens, G2 Gel Pens, Uni-Ball Signos, Uni-Ball Power Tanks, and even the old standby, the fountain pen.

In the last week, I have re-discovered the joy of the pencil. There is something liberating in using something so simple.

The New Space Pen

It’s old-fashioned, but I love it.

Have you sharpened a pencil today?

Moleskine: The Sensual Paper

Pen glides across paper, silently. Simple meeting notes are an act of pleasure. No resistance to ideas; paper begging me for more, more.

What do I write?

What is worthy of this paper?

Gel ink glistens on the page. The page is waiting, wanting more.
The idea.

A fury of writing. Paper absorbing words, a glistening trail of thought left behind as ideas move forward, a mind empties onto the paper.

Oh, the paper.

Then, like an impatient lover, I must wait for the ink to dry. Eager for the next page, ideas flowing forward, tide unstoppable.

All for this paper, this sensual paper.

Moleskine.

Moleskinerie: On Harriet the Spy and Paying Attention

Moleskinerie, my fave online blog of notes and paper-lust, posted a short quote from Harriet the Spy today.

[NOTE: Original blog removed. But check out this on Harriet the Spy from Kat Patrick – Harriet the Spy helped me come to terms with my queer identity]

This brought back a flood of memories of the sixth grade. That year, I carried around an old, reporter-style notebook and made notes very similar to those that I had seen and read about in this book. Observations. Comments. Vague thoughts.

It is probably from here that I began to understand the power of everyday events to shape people’s lives in a larger way. What does arriving late to school tell me about what happens in the rest of someone’s day? What does it tell me about their life outside of the context I see them in?

From here, I developed a sensitivity to how people’s behaviour is driven by the forces in their life, and what it tells me about what they are thinking.

The most empathetic and insightful people you know aren’t psychic; they are just paying attention.

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