I've tried to be, certainly. I think it's a great idea in theory. In practice, I can't quite get the hang of it. If the pen bleeds through the page I get annoyed, but notes in pencil are all smeared and faded when I come back to them later. Then there's the notes themselves. What if I change my mind about how I feel about a passage?* Won't 50-year-old Su be held captive to the thoughts 35-year-old Su wrote in the margin? And if so, if I commit this thought to ink alongside the passage that spawned it, am I also committing to never grow beyond this moment?
(I ask, as I continue typing on the blog I've had for coming up on 11 years. I guess my brain is okay with my thoughts being preserved in pixels.)
Chadwick wrote in his books. Not that he owned many, but he managed to squeeze a lot of notes into a small space. Yesterday, I picked up his Greek New Testament, the one he opened when he wanted to spend time diving deeper into the text, the one he took to church to facilitate his processing of the sermon. I read his notes on the endpapers and can easily identify the passage in question for some of them. Others, not so much. And there's this:
I think this might have been an encouragement from a teacher. It might have been something we talked about once. It could have been a TV show that was on while he was studying, for all I know. He didn't leave behind a key to decipher it with. But maybe he left it there for me to find later.
Lily, in Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, comments on her brother Langston's habit of leaving marginalia in all the books in the house:
Sometimes it's annoying that I can never open a book in our home and not find some part of it that Langston has annotated. I'd like to figure out what I think about the words myself without having to see Langston's handwritten comments...; on the other hand, sometimes it's interesting to find his notes and to read them back and try to decipher why that particular passage intrigued or inspired him.When I think about it that way, the thought of leaving my own marginalia behind, even if the only one who ever sees it is Future Su, is appealing. (Chadwick pursued a writing style that might be best described as enigmatic; that is to say, I'm unlikely to access his thoughts by reading his notes.) What might my future self find in the pages of Les Misérables or Lord of the Rings?
Wait, no. That's too much of a leap to begin with. I'd better start smaller and work my way up... does anyone have a spare copy of The Poky Little Puppy?
*Related, but not enough to link to above: Check out this 2012 New Yorker article about marginalia.