In defense of scribbling
The other day I was reading and a phrase struck me as being particularly felicitous. It leapt out at my tired eyes and prompted me to do something I’ve never done before – grab a pencil and draw a big box around the paragraph. It felt sacriligous. Never in my life have I imposed my own scribblings on a book, let alone a book of immense quality, hardback, of beautiful prose. Then I wondered why I felt so guilty.
How many times have I taken to a phrase, admired it, maybe written it down somewhere, and then forgotten it? I’m converted. The book is now full of circled words, boxed paragraphs and notes in the margin. Next time I pick it up it won’t just be an exceptionally written book, it will also reflect me, it’s owner, reader, admirer. The book ceases to be a passive item and becomes a personal artifact. It contains small fragments of my mind and my existence.
The passage, if you are interested, was from Janet Frame’s The Carpathians, a pretty exceptional book on all accounts. It goes like this:
“How far away you have been, and now your death is near; I hold in my hand the most distant star. The dead of yesterday dine with me at my table.”
Do you understand now? Do you write in your books?
The note below, from thxthxthx, pretty much sums it up. The site is definitely worth a visit if you aren’t already aware of it.