The Notebook of Brian Manning

Brian Manning is a student of Greek philosophy and philosophy teacher in Maryland. This scan is part his work on translating Plato’s MENO. View a larger image at the Moleskinerie Gallery [Thanks... Read More

17/03/2005

M is for Medieval: or How the Irish Invented the Moleskine.

A great deal of my creative inspiration originates with the manuscripts of early medieval Ireland. Perhaps the best known example is the Book of Kells, which reigns supreme among the elaborately illuminated manuscripts from that era. These decorated books are... Read More

Reichenau, an
island monastery on Lake Constance located between
Germany and Switzerland. It contains no color other than the deep brown of
the ink, and no illumination of any kind, yet it seems to me to reveal more
about at least this one personality behind the long labor of creating
illuminated manuscripts.

 

This un-named monk assembled what discarded pieces
of vellum he could gather together and used his notebook to jot down interesting
text he came across in his daily work (incidentally, the size of this notebook
is very close to a large size Moleskine). Written in a very tight script you will find bits of grammar, animal
lore, an incantation, and an endearing poem in Old Irish about a monk and his
cat named Pangur Bán, all on
the same page.
Throughout the other pages of the notebook are excerpts written in Greek, an
astrological table, and notes on logic, metaphysics and etymology, among other
topics.

\r\n

\r\n

How, you wonder, does this relate to the modern day \r\nMoleskine? Well in its own way, the \r\nSt. Paul Irish Codex is a very well preserved example of the centuries-old need \r\nto organize one’s thoughts on the written page. In the very same way that most of us \r\ntoday cobble together threads of ideas, quotations, and excerpts from our \r\nfavorite writers between the pages of our Moleskines, this ninth century scribe \r\ncreated a small portrait of himself in the handwritten notebook he left \r\nbehind. His interests, reflected in \r\nsmall fragments of an impressively wide range of subjects, reveal much when \r\ntaken together as a whole. None of what he collected was written in the first \r\nperson – all the words originally belonged to someone else – but collectively \r\nthey became his own.

\r\n

\r\n

Much \r\nhas been made of the Irish contribution to Western society, so by comparison, \r\ngiving an Irish monk credit for inventing the Moleskine does not seem that \r\nexcessive. I do know that the \r\nprocess I go through filling my own notebooks can similarly be found in \r\nthis otherwise ordinary looking manuscript created just over 12 centuries \r\nago. How much of ourselves can be \r\nperceived between the lines of our own notebooks? When I read between the lines of the St. \r\nPaul Irish Codex I am inspired by the presence of a living man long turned to \r\ndust who continues to speak through his handwritten \r\npages.",1] ); //-->

Continue reading "M is for Medieval: or How the Irish Invented the Moleskine."

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17/03/2005

Moleskine Ruler

"One day I found myself needing a ruler and I’m not in the habit of carrying such an item.  I do carry my Moleskine.  So with a ruler at home, a pen and a blank page I created both a... Read More

17/03/2005