Writing on the Edge #marginalia #100convos

mare in cognito

North America, 1566, public domain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map_North_America_1566.jpg


Things are more interesting on the margins, in the mare in cognito surrounding the text. Text, way-pointed by page numbers, is the author’s country, familiar to him or her and revealed to me surely, page by page. What I think myself is often more mysterious, and the beautiful geometry of a well-designed book gives me room–empty land–to be alone with my thoughts.

geomtery of a book

Van de Graaf canon, public domain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Van_de_Graaf_canon_in_book_design.svg


It’s the place, too, where, as Reshan Richards observed, we find the difference between the author’s intention and the way the words are received.

There’s also something pleasantly subversive about writing in books–we are told from a very young age not to write in books.

miller marginalia

Marginalia from my reading Henry Miller’s, The Wisdom of the Heart.


And, finally, there is something special about taking a long time to read a book. Says Henry Miller in The Wisdom of the Heart,

The fourth element is Time, which is another way, as Goethe so well knew, of saying–growth.

slow miller

Marginalia from my reading Henry Miller’s, The Wisdom of the Heart, 36



  1. Reply
    Seena Rich April 6, 2014

    This is so right on! I have always found it odd that we give students books to read and tell them NOT to write in them. I don’t understand that. The two go hand-in-in for me. I can’t read a paper book unless I have a pencil in hand. How can I except my students to do any different? The magic happens in the margins. Thanks for posting.

  2. Reply
    Seena Rich April 6, 2014

    *hand in hand. iPhone typo!!

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