24th August

a period of six months? What price on that? If "the pen is the tongue of the mind" as Miguel de Cervantes commented, then the notebook is its ledger. The notebook contained a record of leads, faithfully copied quotations, an ethnographic compendium of overheard conversations, answers to matters of fact, lists of bibliographic leads. The notebook is the fundamental tool of the trade - the mind's imprint on paper. What had been stolen was in fact irreplaceable. It was thinking time, something that can be - at best - only partially recalled. I strained to remember but also mourned the loss of what I could not. Thinking about it now, I often don't go back to the notebooks once they are full. There is comfort in knowing that those preliminary thoughts are there though, if ever needed. In the case of the stolen notebook, however, it was full of extended notes, information and even passages written out in longhand I planned to publish. A few days after our ordeal in Bilbao, and still bemoaning the loss of the pilfered notebook, my daughter said in answer to yet another my complaints about the theft: "The thing about notebooks, Dad... you can't back them up, can you?" She's right of course but you can leave them at home! Packing for the annual vacation now only novels make it into the luggage, no space for smuggled notebooks or things to do 'if I just get a spare moment'.


"A pencil and a rubber are of more use to thought than a battalion of assistants."
Adorno, Theodor (1978)


SUMMER - 2004

31 August