On blank paper...
On my desk I now, and this is a recent thing, keep 4" x 5" index cards and a pen to jot down notes. There is something undaunting about the size and the shape and the crispness and the neat blue lines beneath the single red one. I can, without fear, slip one off of the stack and cradle it in my palm as I doodle a sketch or trace out a lyric or scratch down a number. There are dozens of them with notes, haunting memories of moments that are, for the most part, disposable. I pick them up from time to time, looking for a specific moment that has fled, searching for a particular bit of wisdom or trivia. Here I find...
"New York Times
New York Daily News
New York, New York"
... scrawled sloppily beneath the phone number for a business associate who has, as far as I can remember, nothing whatsoever to do with New York in any way. But now he does because he is joined with it on this card and, now, forever in my mind. I toss that aside and move on to another. In a philosophical mood I write neatly...
"Success is the ratio between the crap you have to put up with and the reward you recieve."
Another has a To Do list for a project that I am still working on. I am always amused at how often there are still items on the list that need doing... often weeks later. But the beauty of the little note cards is their disposability. They impart a lack of value to anything written on them. I can disregard them, toss them aside, throw them away without a moment's agonizing... just like thoughts.
When I was young I approached a blank page or an empty canvas with terror. I remember one of my earliest breakthroughs as an artist was the technique of throwing a thin wash of india ink at the canvas just to cover it's offending whiteness. I still do that. In the days before word processing, when we knew that any mistake would mean a complete retyping of the page, there was no help for it. There is no similar current moment to typing the first letter on a blank page.
It was an act of pollution, of defilement. The pure whiteness of fine vellum typing paper felt like a landscape of freshly fallen snow onto which any letter would, initially, inevitably appear like a tiny steaming turd. Anything I had to say was not important enough to spoil such a pristine environment. In college I used to pay someone to type my papers on my typewriter not because I couldn't but because I didn't like to... a behavior that makes sense now because of the recent revelation of my mildly obsessive compulsive nature. However, as I discuss these feelings about paper with people I find that I am far from unique.
I thank God everyday for the advent of computers and word processing (though I curse Microsoft). With them I can word and reword, I can noodle and nudge, nuance and ponder, organize and format in a disposable digital environment. When I send a document to a printer I am filling the page with text that has gravitas and import and it appears in one stroke, complete. The blank pages are hidden from my view in the paper tray. Boxes of paper become binders of text. And those moments of minor terror are gone.
In my old REI bag that comes with me, there is a notebook.
There is ALWAYS a notebook.
It's not because I always ask it to come along on my journeys out the door. No.
It follows me.
It follows me in the same way a security blanket follows Linus, a loyal hound follows its feeding hand, a little sister to her older siblings.
Inside, lesson plans are orderly, neat, scattered between other parts of my brain....
Kanji on how to get to an office in Yokohama.
Notes on acceptance.
Drawings of made-up playing cards for "The Cards Dealt"
lists of potential URL's for a homepage
layouts for Typhoon, a language game
drawings that illustrate the complex differences between "immigrant", "migrant" and "alien". For some reason "Kumo=spider" is next to it.
four pages outlining an argument. Never shared.
"The Morning Shift"
A drawing of the US showing the Mason Dixon Line.
Questions from Lapietra taken with me on the train.
Book titles and authors I want to find.
The start of a long list that someone recently suggested I should write. On the top, it says "Sometimes the best job is not one that can fit on a business card."
More hand-drawn maps- my migration path.
Japanese for asking "How long will it take to get to America?"
Similar notebooks are around. One I can see sitting on my books- I know that one is scattered with notes from books read a few months ago, more arguments, more hand-drawn diagrams, French, Japanese, Halloween traditions explained, lesson plans.....
Wherever I go, my brain leaves a paper trail.
Lines make it easy to dive into- spiral bound, rounded corners. These are my training wheels. No second thought needed to muck about on these pages.
My sketch book is sacred ground. In it are a few paintings, drawings. But there are not many. It's not for lack of want.
It's the little cloth tie on the side.
Even though I live alone, I still tie it. To keep sacredness. To keep intruders away. Even myself. Especially myself.
The whiteness is there for me to express on. To do what I wish. I know that. Of course I know that...rationally.
I wish only to approach it when I feel worthy enough to approach it. When it is time.
When the mind is not scattered with lesson plans, arguments into the flurring of obtuseness, kanji to get from point A to point B.
Sometimes, the whiteness is the perfect reflection of thought.
Nothing more needs to be said.
There's something about a new, crisp piece of white blank paper. It is the best example of simplicity...yet, it manages to carry with it, a sense of majesty.
What? Just an object? No, no, no. Paper emerges from the belly of nature, harmonious and intertwining with Mother Earth. It is no surprise, then, to find paper not to be an object but rather, a living spectre.
Indeed, it lives and breathes. In fact, it speaks.
A blank piece of paper lays on a desk. Can't you hear is whisper your name? Can't you hear it seduce your mind? Can't you hear it call out, "Create me"?
The blank space consumes your ideas and images, basking in its glory. As a return favor, the paper genially displays your creation, so that you may take glory in it too.
So thank the trees. They done did a good ol' job, y'all.
Paper, it is not simple.
It is everything. It is the portal of thoughts to you, to them, to the future.
This blank rectangle of white is powerfully overwhelming. It can mean everything. Its vastness unbound. Try and tame it with words and the paper will win. Or so you may think. But alas this is no competition, for as wide open and infinite the page may be, without words it is nothing but mere potential .
Your words, your thoughts imbedded in the paper, the vastness is but only a key. Perhaps this overwhelming sense radiated from the blank page is but a mere reflection of the depth to which our thoughts are capable. And only then is the power felt.
The paper shall tremble in awe.
I have all sorts of old pieces of paper around my room. Not too many clean ones. Although, if I were smart, I'd keep them around for all the moments of inspiration. This is one of my favorite paper poems off one of those pieces of paper though. (is this a tongue twister yet?)
posted on my ceiling
to enjoy when Iím falling asleep
remind me of Godís glory
the mysteries of His word
excerpt from googlism "paper"
paper is a painting
paper is dead
paper is so passť
paper is so soft and absorbent
paper is counterproductive
paper is a citation classic
paper is just that on field
paper is made by hand
paper is still with us
paper is misleading
paper is made step 1
paper is still superior
paper is much easier
paper is available at euroffice
paper is publishing column in hawaiian
paper is confusing
paper is released jointly by charlotte
paper is good
paper is in response to the july 19
paper is as it should have been read at
paper is a draft that will appear in ieee acm transactions
paper is a poor start for children
paper is that i am not sure
paper is to report on the results of a
paper is of such good quality
paper is twofold
paper is to change
(toilet paper is good for late night fun)
cut edge bleed life stamp picture magic origami miracle dry fingers rub chill aaaaaaaa! jam frustration obsession release pressure balance hand cramp personnel file bright glossy chemical scent pure color inkblot bloody nose red wine spill passionate kiss crumple ragged edge soft fiber pressed flower dry perfumed stain greasy salty hot chip sacrifice tree disappear burn tear confetti emotion capture share imagination clean white pure creamy soft brown gift cover communicate represent wealth breathe scent old book carry my bagel into the next room
According to one paper recycling company, reclaiming 503 tons of white paper and 285 tons of cardboard yielded the following environmental savings: "13,226 trees; 2,334 cubic yards of landfill space; 5.4 million gallons of water; 3.3 megawatt-hous of electricity; 531,000 gallons of oil; and 1.76 tons of CO2 emissions."
is that pristine piece of white paper really worth it?
In Japanese, paper and God are homonyms- kami.
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