Monday, August 23, 2010

The History of the Pocket Notebook

Very cool. A good reminder, as well--I need to get me one of these...

The idea of carrying around a pocket notebook has become quite popular these last few years, revived by the introduction of the current incarnation of the “Moleskine” into the market. It’s become so popular that I’m afraid it has come to be seen as trendy or faddish, and this is putting some men off to starting this important habit themselves. Some find the Cult of the Moleskine and its faux history understandably distasteful. The company shills their pricey Made in China notebooks as the notebook of Hemingway, Van Gogh, and Matisse, when the company that currently makes them only got into the business in 1997.

But don’t let the pocket notebook’s current image dissuade you from carrying one around. The truth is that you don’t need to use a Moleskine (unless you really like them)-even some note cards clipped together will do. And far from being a modern fad, the pocket notebook has a long, important, and manly history. Pocket notebooks were part of the arsenal of a long list of great men from Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Edison (we’re working on an in-depth post of how these men used their notebooks for the future). The repositories of eminent men’s personal effects nearly always includes a pocket notebook full of their ideas and musings.

I spent many hours combing through the google book archives looking for references on the use of pocket notebooks by ordinary men during this past century. The following excerpts I collected show the pocket notebook’s history and demonstrate that far from being the domain of the modern hipster, the pocket notebook has always been used by men from many different walks of life...

No matter what profession you find yourself in, the most essential function of the pocket notebook is to provide a place to capture the ideas that spring to mind throughout the day. You may get a business idea, an insight into something you or a loved one has been struggling with, or hear a quote you wish to record. Even though you feel sure in the moment that you’ll be able to remember these thoughts when you get home, every one of us has experienced the agony of realizing later that an idea is utterly gone from our minds and that no amount of mental gymnastics can bring it back.

But the pocket notebook has many more uses. I use mine for brainstorming sessions and as a place to write down and review my personal goals and keep track of things I need to get done. I use it for mundane things like grocery lists and people’s phone numbers. And I love to make calculations, keeping track of income and figuring out when I can pay off my debt

Utter Awesomeness

Benedictine Updates

On the one hand:

The first volume of a projected 16-volume collection of the theological works of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinge prior to his election as Pope Benedict XVI, has been released.

The first volume of the Opera Omnia is dedicated to the liturgy. In the preface the Pope affirms that since boyhood he has regarded the liturgy as “the central activity of my life.”

The Opera Omnia of Joseph Ratzinger collect his written works dating back to his doctoral thesis. The series is being produced in German by the Herder published firm, in cooperation with the Vatican publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, which is producing the works in Italian translation.

On the other hand:

The spokesman, Peter Jennings, said he had "never seen security like this".

The Cabinet Office said "a very good job is being done" in Birmingham towards organising the event.

Mr Jennings said: "I think the security's draconian. But I can't question the authorities on security.

"They're in charge. The government is in charge of the security and they have to make the decisions."

In a statement, the Cabinet Office said: "A very good job is being done in Birmingham towards organising the event with dozens of organisations involved.

"The government is working with local authorities and the police and has to balance security whilst working with the church to secure a good experience for pilgrims."

The Church and Slavery

A topic I know all too little about, yet which merits further research. One take:
Divorced from the context of a Europe under a tightening Ottoman siege, papal engagement with the slave trade would appear to confirm the worst prejudices of secular critics. Placed within its historical environment, however, what we confront is the lay faithful and their shepherds accepting a real evil – slavery – to avoid their own subjugation to militant Islam. For the Christians of the 15th and 16th centuries, slavery was not an abstract issue. Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian Catholics had coped for centuries with Islamic aggression that had resulted in the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Christians. Further, condemnations of slavery were not merely pro forma for a Catholic Church that had created two religious orders in the 13th century – the Trinitarians and the Mercederians – for the purpose of redeeming Christian captives. Nevertheless, tragically, slavery was part of the dirty war that Islam and Christianity waged against one another for centuries throughout the Mediterranean. In the 15th century it appeared that Islam, led by the Ottomans, was on the verge of final victory. But even if the circumstances mitigate some of the guilt of Rome's involvement in slavery, it's a scandal nonetheless. And while the fear – perhaps even the necessity – for Christians to fight this war was real, its sad legacy remains with us. History demonstrates that our earthly pilgrimage is rarely a straight line to a happier, progressive future; moral advancement is hard-won and easily lost. That the world finds it difficult to see Christ in the Church isn't simply a result of sin's blinders. Too often our own grievous faults and failures have become obstacles themselves. We do no service to Christ or His Church by refusing to acknowledge it.

Just Plain Weird

The title says it all:

Appeals Court: Lying About Military Medals Is Free Speech

Tolkien Speaks

on LOTR and sundry other things.


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