Notebooks are incredibly useful… especially pocket notebooks.
For the past 8 years I’ve always ensured that I carry a pocket notebook arounds in my back pocket. For the good majority of the days in those years the notebook has just provided me a little bit of uneven padding for my backside, but when inspiration struck it was always there for me to capture my thoughts or ideas.
Almost as frequently as capturing my own ideas I’ve also torn a number of pages out of the notebook leaving them with friends and strangers to explain a wide variety of things from the concept of time travel to directions to where they needed to go.
Notebooks are helpful things.
Even folks that we would usually expect to use their notebooks for great things have simply made the best use of them for the situation at hand. My favourite example of this is from Michaelanglo Di Vinci’s pocket notebook.
In the 15th and 16th Century literacy rates were low, and around the middle of the 16th Century only 20% of men and 5% of women could sign their name thus making it incredibly difficult to assign tasks without speaking directly to the working population. This made complex tasks all the more trickier as there was no way to refer to any written instructions as you progressed through the work.
Even something as simple as a shopping can be complex. A simple visit to the shop to purchase and return with the goods is not in itself difficult, but remembering everything you needed to buy and in which quantities is something I don’t risk doing without a list in 2016… and when the majority of your workforce can not read then having a notebook and a great ability to sketch is a wonderful benefit.
“Because the servant he was sending to market was illiterate,” writes the Oregonian‘s Steve Duin in a review of a Seattle Art Museum show, “Michelangelo illustrated the shopping lists — a herring, tortelli, two fennel soups, four anchovies and ‘a small quarter of a rough wine’ — with rushed (and all the more exquisite for it) caricatures in pen and ink.”