The Little Orange and Gold Book and the First Law of Idea-dynamics

Lately, I’ve developed the habit of writing down anything that I find interesting. There’s so much that I am desperate to remember, to work into other narratives, to repeat to others, or maybe to even stick up here on my blog. There are so many beautiful things being said by the people that surround me and in books that I don’t want to lose. The power of language and thought is astounding, and the nature and creation of ideas never fails to amaze me.

So I’ve been carrying around a little gold and orange notebook that I was given by a friend in eighth grade. The gold designs are raised a little bit from the cover, and I love running my fingers over them absentmindedly in class. It’s got a magnetic flap that keeps it closed, which makes a very satisfying clapping noise, and the paper has thin brown-ish grey-ish lines just the right space apart.

Because it’s rather old, it’s got some interesting artifacts inside. There are random sentences–often later used in short stories–from the summer I spent in France, notes on meetings and a few packing lists from over the years, and some protein counts and food logs from this summer, but I’ve used a paperclip to push all of that to the side. It’s got a new and very important job now.

I’ve furiously scribbled things down when I’m talking with people on the phone, written down things people sent in texts, or carefully copied things out of books, but mostly it’s just full of snippets of conversations.

Today, I was speaking to my father on the phone about my recent obsession with mortality (which has made me unable to sleep, but more on that later). The moment that he said, “Everyone has to come to peace with mortality in their own way. We all imagine it differently,” I scrambled to get a pen. I knew that whatever he said next would be worth recording.

Here’s a quote from the conversation:

“I am a collection of atoms that changes continually. The collection is called me and has a self-consciousness that is me. At some point, the atoms will reintegrate with the world. I imagine my atoms becoming grass. Part of the living force in the world is aligned in me right now.”

Last night, George quoted Camus in a text message and then sent me this Dorothy Sayers quote today when I asked permission to quote her:

“A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.”

But I am convinced that both George and Dorothy Sayers are wrong. Original thought comes from listening to others, whether it be by hearing or reading, writing those things down, and mulling over what they’ve said, until you come to new, independent, and perhaps ingenious conclusions. Energy can neither be created or destroyed: it can only be transformed from one state to another, and the same holds true for ideas.

And that, my friends, is why I’m writing things down.