Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You Don't Have to Put A. for Angel Anymore

I keep a mildly daily journal where I write down thunked thoughts around collages of movie tickets, London tube passes, restaurant cards, and museum guide pictures from places I go. Lately I've been writing my journal entries in weird boxy flow charts, a neater form of clustering I guess. 

My friend Matt was diagramming and I wonder if he still does. I wonder if years from now I'll think I accomplished something by diagramming. So far I can't believe how diagramming has been smarting up my brain. Everything feels less fuzzy and more lemonadey. I can also journal now without it feeling like I'm squeezing one out. Think about it: I don't have to feel guilty for including all kinds of crazy ideas in one paragraph because a flow chart depicts how various ideas make sense next to one another. They're like really strange poems, except not, except more like therapy which I can't afford because I don't have health insurance.

Here's an embroidery that's a diagram of the ear. I found this oddly comforting when I discovered tinnitus in my left ear.


Diagrams are defined by having one main idea and showing how one idea can generate other ideas, but I've always loved the smell of pencil shavings and pencil shavings make me think of having to empty the little round bucket next to my Italian teacher with all the sexy chest hair. See what I mean--a diagram could have three or four central ideas and the ideas don't have to be weighted. I'm talking journaling gone to art. Books I'd like to diagram: Middlemarch, From the Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You, The General in His Labyrinth, The Lost Steps, and maybe Dracula because of all the letters. Albums to diagram include Johnny Flynn, Fleet Foxes, Emmylou Harris, Nina Simone, and if I spoke Portuguese, I would diagram Caetano Veloso. My cousin wants me to join a craft bandwagon, forcing me to make five things for five random people. I think I found my five. I'm sure a diagram could be knitted, right? 

If you'd like to try out some diagrams, here's a website of graphic organizers that I used when I taught high school. These diagrams are pretty corporate looking, but you get the idea. You can make a diagram look like a universe. It's funny--the different ways we break down ideas and how some of us have thought patterns and some of us have thought patterns that make no sense. My mother keeps tables and charts that she updates while watching weekly eliminations on certain reality shows. I'd like to someday hang them up--a clear reminder of what she was or wasn't thinking at the time. 

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