On keeping a zibaldone
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A zibaldone is an Italian vernacular commonplace book. The word means a heap of things or miscellany in Italian. A commonplace book can be described as a register of continuous learning.

What is a zibaldone?

Lately, I’ve been focussing on the history and use of the zibaldone or commonplace book.
A zibaldone is an Italian vernacular commonplace book. The word means a heap of things or miscellany in Italian. A commonplace book can be described as a register of continuous learning. They date back to antiquity and were kept particularly during the Renaissance and in the nineteenth century. Such books are essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas …

The Zibaldone di pensieri by Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) is the most eminent. On this literary blog you can find more in depth information.

A selection from my own zibaldone

To be free

I discovered them because I felt restricted by the other kind of notebooks I was keeping. The problem lied, I think, in the combination of two disciplines in one word. Because finally there was always too much of one or the other. Art journal: depending on the feeling of the moment, there was too much art and not enough journal. Or vice versa. Sketchnote: too much note and too little sketch. If we talk about freedom of putting down our thoughts on paper this shouldn’t be things to consider. You shouldn’t push your subject/material in one direction trying to fit it in. If you want to make art? Please do so. If you wanna write and illustrate the text from time to time? Go ahead. People have been doing it for centuries. And if all that fits into a journal? For the better. It’s your choice.

Jotting down ideas for a webpage.

Keeping it simple

Perhaps the reason of existence of so many concepts is that we are used to omnipresent adapted material. We can buy a racing bike, mountain bike, city bike, and a beacher depending on the character of our trip. There are almost as many ways of sketching and taking notes as there are bicycles. All with their own application and manual. Maybe I’m too frugal, but I feel better on a bike that I might as well take out into the city, put it on a sprint with or go on a rough ride. A bicycle that stays with me as a loyal friend, rather than having a garage full of one trick pony’s. In this way, I also want to drag along a single notebook in which I make my lists and sketches, write ideas and quotes. The concept of a zibaldone comes pretty close, continuous learning in no specific format or concept …

Am I being too idiosyncratic about it? What’s your idea?

sketchbook sketch

Other blog posts

On keeping a zibaldone

A zibaldone is an Italian vernacular commonplace book. The word means a heap of things or miscellany in Italian. A commonplace book can be described as a register of continuous learning.

Each man under his own vine and fig tree

We installed our barbecue and table in the shade of the old fig tree on our courtyard. It was fresh and pleasant under his leaves in times of intense heat during summers in Provence.

portret of John Vernon Lord in my journal

Inheritance from a younger self

First impressions of an artists’ work are based on visual aspects. Investigating it further you go deeper into her or his world. And if there is one, the reward is that you learn more about yourself.