The Pleasures of the Text

June 20, 2007


pencil case only

Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.
Sometimes it’s nice to take a paper leave, go away from the computer and the internet. Last night, I was sitting with my brother Andy at the local Barnes and Noble reading and drinking Chai. Andy was skimming through the pages of ‘Eggs, Milk, Vodka’ by Bill Keaggy. Very Short List.con recommends it. It is an anthropological and humorous look into the private lives of lists. The scraps are presented as artifacts, rare specimens with Bill’s pithy comments. Bill made an observation that lists are private matters of our lives. We may dump our ash trays on the parking lot but we guard our lists. To me, they contain personal notes and the traces of our hands, our immediate desires and transgressions. Making list is an almost instinctual act to clear our minds, much like the organizational methods of ‘Getting Things Done’ book by David Allen, which also was on the same table with us. Andy laughs out loud at some of the lists. There is an example of a rough script ‘Hooker & Blow‘ written next to cereal on the most demure teddy bear printed grocery list. The discrepancy between the debauchery and the innocence has a humorous affect. Or as it happens accidentally, a different color pen is chosen and written in different script for emphasis: need coffee. I sometimes look at Found Magazine because some of the scraps of paper are odd and engrossing. I think it is our voyeuristic side, our further reading into the brevity of the text to extrapolate the life, the human being behind such a piece of raw code. We come upon it accidentally and read signs and meaning into it much like an anthropologist would. The artifact is ephemeral which makes them that much more rare. It is written without much aspiration but all the more private; communication between each other and ourselves. We come upon these artifacts, they are our contemporaries not from some ancient civilization, there fore they say a lot about ourselves. (I’m reminded of a comparison by Neal Stephenson. In the book ‘Snow Crash’ he compares some of the wall hieroglyphs as ancient Egyptians’s form of a Bumper Sticker.) We notice that there weren’t any list in the Chinese language. Andy says it’s because the Chinese don’t make lists. One list borders on obsessive compulsive. This particular list was sorted into aisles (Aisles 1: eggs, milk 2: bread, butter 3: soda pop , popcorn etc.) of that shopper’s particular grocery store. I however found a more useful list here: http://www.grocerylists.org/ultimatest/GrocerylistsDOTorg_v2.pdf

I hadn’t seen my brother for a while, since last summer. But we took our time. Not rushing into any conversations or committing to any topic. Steve Leven of Levenger spoke about reading together in his book ‘The Little Guide To the Well-Read Life’. I thought to myself, how nice it is to be comfortable enough to enjoy my brother’s company in peaceful silence. Here we are. He and I having read some of the same books or planning to catch up on each other’s recommendations, and spreading some good book along. I had read ‘Bird by Bird’ by Ann Lamott. He’s reading it and buys a copy for Alex as a graduation present. It is like having a sphere of influence next to you. I made this drawing on the hand*book journal pocket size journal. Pocket size is nice, portable, and available. It fits easily on those small cafe tables. Sometimes it’s hard to do a drawing. I took the advice of Danny of ‘Everyday Matters‘ and just draw what’s around me. This is a special pencil case bought in Poland. the company is Hevlite.

handbook-journal-co review

the-pleasures-of-the-skimmed-text

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One Response to “The Pleasures of the Text”


  1. […] December 31, 2007 The Pleasures of the Text […]


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