Scene from my notebook
June 14, 2020


In 1928, the poet Paul Valéry had a vision of the future: “Just as water, gas, and electricity are brought into our houses from far off to satisfy our needs in response to a minimal effort, so we shall be supplied with visual or auditory images, which will appear and disappear at a simple movement of the hand, hardly more than a sign.”

I copied this quote into my notebook five years ago, and it knocks me over each time I come across it. Today we can let the entire world—and everyone’s opinions about it—into our heads with a swipe or a click. Of course we’re going to feel a little crazy. Sometimes my mind lands on a jittery thought: screens have become our reality and the physical world simply exists to serve their needs. It’s more of a loopy sensation than a coherent idea, but I clearly need to step up my information hygiene.

But back to Paul Valéry, who might be a patron saint of blogging. Each morning for fifty years, he would record his thoughts, theories, and questions into his notebooks, which became a sprawling collection of meditations on psychology, metaphysics, history, poetry, and the mundane. “Having dedicated those hours to the life of the mind,” he wrote, “I thereby earn the right to be stupid for the rest of the day.”

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Each night in 2020 I'm writing a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I want to etch these days into my memory before I forget them. Before the world changes completely.
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