This question is relevant in an essay by the anthropologist Michael Taussig, for whom notebooks represented an essential instrument during his field research. Walter Benjamin is at the center of his research. Benjamin not only filled his notebooks obsessively according to their everyday use but also adored their materiality. By the example of a wide range of note writers from Roland Barthes to Le Corbusier to Joan Didion, Taussig extracted the true reality of a notebook. Far more than a mere “thing”, it develops a veritable independent existence. This existence develops from the missing notes and therefore eventually makes the owner his own:
The notebook is a magical object, a fetish.
You can find the essay from the publication series “100 Notes – 100 Thoughts” on the occasion of the 13th Documenta here.