4 November 2022, around 16.03.
Walked out in the downpour to pick up holds from the library – a biography of Walter Benjamin and Black Jacobins by C. L. R. James, neither of which I am likely to read at the moment but which did, however, give me a destination. Mostly I wanted to be out walking in the rain because of the rolling motion of the tree branches (heavy with yellow leaves, although the wind was working to lessen that burden and the topmost were nearly bare by the time I returned), which I could see outside the window and which beckoned me to pay attention to the passing of the seasons. At least I remembered to pack a plastic bag to keep the books dry on the way home.
18 November 2022, around 7.10.
Practice the arcade rapidly at first, to give your fingers no chance to interfere. When you can write the elliptical shoulders of h, m, and n with wrist action only, then try combining wrist and finger action in the exits.
The moment you find that you are getting the arcade with wrist action, try using it in a word—such as moment. Whenever an h, m, or n goes spiky, go back to the arcade. Do not do any exercise in a thoughtless, mechanical manner. Keep alert every moment to what is happening and mend the mistakes without repeating them.
Few students acquire the arcade at once. Take as much time as you require, and do not become impatient. If it takes a month to get it, then be happy that it takes only a month. (Plate 15)
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Working to music (such as Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor) and concentrating on listening will teach you much about possibilities of rhythm in pen touch and movement. And by listening rather than watching the pen fearfully, you may find that the tactile and kinetic images of the letters are safely in your hand—and you can stop worrying. Writing with the eyes closed is also a good test of what your hand and wrist know and whether you can trust them.
A master writer is aware of what his hand is doing, but he can think of the meaning of the text instead of shepherding his fingers. (Plate 17)
—Lloyd J. Reynolds (Italic Calligraphy & Handwriting: Exercises & Text)
on travel writing
21 November 2022, around 5.00.
Sed diu non retemptavi memoriam meam, itaque non facile me sequitur. Quod evenit libris situ cohaerentibus, hoc evenisse mihi sentio; explicandus est animus et quaecumque apud illum deposita sunt, subinde excuti debent, ut parata sint, quotiens usus exegerit. Ergo hoc in praesentia differamus; multum enim operae, multum diligentiae poscit. Cum primum longiorem eodem loco speravero moram, tunc istud in manus sumam. Quaedam enim sunt, quae possis et in cisio scribere. Quaedam lectum et otium et secretum desiderant.
—Seneca (Epistulae Morales, 72.1–2)1
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In gaol or on a journey, every book is heaven sent, and a book that you would hesitate to open on returning from the English Club or heading out to a ball will seem as diverting to you as one of the Arabian nights if you find yourself in a prison cell or on a rapid diligence. Nay, more: in such cases, the more boring the book is, the better.
—Pushkin, ‘Thoughts on the Road/Journey from Moscow to St. Petersburg’
- ‘You know what happens to papyrus rolls when they become stuck together with disuse; well, I feel as if that has happened to me: my mind needs to be unrolled occasionally and its contents brought to light if they are to be available when the need arises. So let’s defer your question for the time being: it demands much effort and attention. As soon as I expect to stay in one place for a longer period, I will take it in hand. For there are some subjects one can write about even in a traveling carriage; others demand a comfortable seat, some leisure time, and freedom from distraction’ (trans. Margaret Graver & A.A. Long). [↩]
22 November 2022, around 7.45.
‘Non mehercules ieiuna esse et arida volo, quae de rebus tam magnis dicentur; neque enim philosophia ingenio renuntiat. Multum tamen operae inpendi verbis non oportet.’ —Seneca, Epistulae Morales, 75.3
23 November 2022, around 13.34.
‘Underlining personalizes the book. The marks become traces of your interest.’ (124)
‘If the book is yours and it does not have antiquarian value, do not hesitate to annotate it. Do not trust those who say that you must respect books. You respect books by using them, not leaving them alone.’ (125f.) —Umberto Eco, How to Write a Thesis (trans. C. M. Farina & G. Farina)