A notebook from the past

Love it! 4

One very common use of a journal is to note down charts with daily habits: a so-called tracker.

Have I drunk 2 litres of water today? Checked.

Did I hit my 10k steps? Checked.

Was I meditating / working / sleeping / enjoying life the right number of hours? Checked.

Let’s be honest about it, jotting down that X at the end of each day is incredibly satisfying.

From a simple “habit to track……..checkbox” to a system of boxes and tiny symbols (look here for a Minimalistic Journaling/Tracking System), we create methods to keep track on our daily routines, getting very creative as well as cryptic along the way.  

Writing in a journal about what we are at, is obviously not a recent habit. Wandering in the mazes of the internet, I bumped into a journal from back 1941: the notebook of Jean Fick. Not much is known about him, but what I know is that his tracker system is a wonderful piece of art. And indeed, you can have a look at it in the collection abcd.

His tracking table is made by one month per page, with the days of the week vertically arranged, followed by four columns to note the date. On some pages he has four weekdays on portrait orientation, and three on landscape.
In each box there is a collection of colourful geometric symbols, but unfortunately Jean forgot to note down a legend for us. Some said he noted the displacement of troupes during that war days, some said he noted a calendar to follow farming activities. I like to imagine those were mini-maps of the places he was visiting in his daily walks.

I normally dislike trackers, as I don’t have a daily routine, rather a routine that changes daily, but looking at these pages projects me in one time without internet, without socials, without binge watching, when in the evening, what a human does, could have been sitting close to the fireplace with himself and his notebook, wondering about his day.

What do you see in it? Is Jean inspiring you in some way?

You can find further stories on illustrated texts — or are they annotated pictures? — in: Vestiges & Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic, an exhibition of illustrated texts by self-taught artists.

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