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Sometimes when I take notes in a book, they look as though I was screaming my thoughts at the author along the borders of the page. My brain cannot comprehend the words that come out of the mouths of authors like Kierkegaard or Conor Cruise O'Brian.
The comments coming from other people are more dismissive, things like "Nonsense.", or "Please!". Sometimes when i come across a note such as "Don't be a ninny" in a book like The Life of Emily Dickinson, I use my thumb as a bookmark and look up from my page, trying to visualize what the person who wrote that must look like.
Students seem to be the ones to restrict from writing their thoughts along the shore of the page. They write things like "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Elliot's, or "Irony" around the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.
Many of the notes sound like they are coming from the fans in empty bleachers, screaming out phrases like "Absolutely!" at James Baldwin.
If you some how went through college without having written something like "Man vs. Nature" along the margin a page, maybe now is the time that you start really reading.
We have all considered the blank margin of a page to be our own, and wrote our words to show that we really payed attention to the words running through our brains. We have all left our footprints in the nature of books.
Even people like Irish Monks in their cold scriptoria scribble their thoughts along the sides of gospel. Birds singing near a window, and light shining onto the vessels in which men have caught a ride into the future.
And you have not truly read the work of Joshua Reynolds until you acknowledged the scribbles of Blake around the edges.
But there is a comment that i think of most often, one that sits atop of my mind like a hat. It was written in a borrowed library cop of Catcher in the Rye. I was only a high school freshman when i came across it, sitting in my parents' living room. My loneliness was amplified when i read the words that were scribbled across the sides of that page.
The reminiscense of greasy food lingered along the text, next to which the gentle writing of whom i assumed belonged to a beautiful girl, who i would never meet- "Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love."
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