An Analog Productivity Tool Like No Other

On the floor next to my sofa are stacks of books: poetry, art, essays, graphic novels, art…a wide range of subjects. Although some books come and go, others have remained on the stacks for years. Every morning, I chose one to open at random, to read a bit of something to start the day. Often late in the evening, when I’m tired and still hunting for just the right expansive connection to include in an Improvised Life article — and have found nothing online — I turn back to those same stacks.

Sally Schneider

Invariably, I find a reading that is remarkable for how perfectly it applies —synchronous!— but even more so for the fact that I have never read it before. How is it possible to keep finding completely new treasures in the dog-eared volumes that I think I’ve read every page of? (Or as Woody Allen wrote in The Kugelmass Episode, “Who is this character on page 100? A bald Jew is kissing Madame Bovary?“)


Sally Schneider


Although I am astonished daily at the incredible treasures that I find online, the pleasure of a paper, analog book is a far different experience. Letting a physical book open where it may, the experience of “random” is magnified, as is the delight of being mysteriously presented, via something utterly tangible, with something just right: both illumination and fuel.


Sally Schneider/Improvised Life

My brain makes connections in a completely different way than with a computer.


….If I were to describe how I put together a piece of writing, it is this way, described by clothing designer Rei Kawakubo in the pamphlet from her recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, that opened just now to this:

“I remember reading about the way a novelist works. It is said that he doesn’t think up an outline and write from the top. He writes bits and pieces and puts them together at the end. That sounded familiar to me.”



…bits and pieces put together at the end…



3 Responses to An Analog Productivity Tool Like No Other

  1. Nina 08.14.2017 at 6:47am #

    Do you know the book “There are no accidents?”
    Synchronicity and the stories of our lives – Robert H. Hopcke

    Synchronicity invites us to see our lives from a different angle, in which our subjective experience determines our place in a universe of random events that occur around us and to us and which are connected through what they mean to us. In our lives, it is these connections between ourselves and the world that create the stories we live.

  2. Anna Dibble 08.14.2017 at 8:52am #

    Wonderful. I recently read that Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was not about books being banned, but about people not reading anymore, not thinking in the way we think when we read books.

  3. David Saltman 08.15.2017 at 8:16pm #

    A book is the most perfect invention of the human race. It is the essence of culture, and the means of its transmission. There is no thrill quite like reading Rumi or Su Tung Po and having them speak directly to you over a gap of a thousand years..

    Saran Wrap is good, too.

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