Note Book

Book Description

A moving and original literary approach to self-understanding through social media

"The hunger for a feeling of connection that informs most everything I've written flows from a common break in a common heart, one I share with everyone I’ve ever really known."—Note Book

Every single morning since early 2007, Princeton English professor Jeff Nunokawa has posted a brief essay in the Notes section of his Facebook page. Often just a few sentences but never more than a few paragraphs, these compelling literary and personal meditations have raised the Facebook post to an art form, gained thousands of loyal readers, and been featured in the New Yorker. In Note Book, Nunokawa has selected some 250 of the most powerful and memorable of these essays, many accompanied by the snapshots originally posted alongside them. The result is a new kind of literary work for the age of digital and social media, one that reimagines the essay’s efforts, at least since Montaigne, to understand our common condition by trying to understand ourselves.

Ranging widely, the essays often begin with a quotation from one of Nunokawa’s favorite writers—George Eliot, Henry James, Gerard Manley Hopkins, W. H. Auden, Robert Frost, or James Merrill, to name a few. At other times, Nunokawa is just as likely to be discussing Joni Mitchell or Spanish soccer striker Fernando Torres.

Confessional and moving, enlightening and entertaining, Note Book is ultimately a profound reflection on loss and loneliness—and on the compensations that might be found through writing, literature, and connecting to others through social media.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Contents
  5. Note Book: Initial Public Offering
  6. August 2007
    1. 195. “one of the people upon whom nothing is lost”
  7. October 2007
    1. 256. Nora inu (Stray Dog)
  8. November 2007
    1. 336. “the clear architecture / of the nerves”
  9. December 2007
    1. 382. We Have to Be Careful about the Words We Use
  10. January 2008
    1. 442. The Strength of Weak Gods
    2. 467. “the unconscious critical acumen of the reader”
  11. March 2008
    1. 595. “Partial Enchantments of the Quixote”
  12. April 2008
    1. 711. Paradise Bereft: The Social Elegy of De Quincey
    2. 716. The Silent Correction Continues
  13. May 2008
    1. 780. “so true”
    2. 810. “Scars faded as flowers”
  14. October 2008
    1. 1157. The Trouble with Aphorisms
  15. November 2008
    1. 1187. “What is truth? said jesting Pilate”
    2. 1203. Ciceronian Suburbs
  16. December 2008
    1. 1229. “Cold!”
  17. January 2009
    1. 1295. “Age does not improve us”
  18. February 2009
    1. 1340. The Afterlife of Moles
    2. 1341. “In the society of their common danger his innocence might serve to protect him”
    3. 1349. “But I shall see it reanimated”
  19. March 2009
    1. 1388. “The Unteachable Monkey,” “The Fables of Panchatantra,” “Indian Humor”
    2. 1389. “stippled Hopkins”
  20. April 2009
    1. 1402. “And I am out on a limb, and it is the arm of God”
    2. 1418. “They just look at me blankly”
    3. 1422. “He began to repeat the same stories more than once a day”
    4. 1440. “The mind, intractable thing”
  21. May 2009
    1. 1461. “His jokes are no trifles”
    2. 1476. “Ms. Arthur”
    3. 1488. The Finer Reaches of Monotony
  22. July 2009
    1. 1566. “So they groped and shuffled along”
    2. 1579. “That’s wonderful, Sue. What are you studying?”
    3. 1585. “I have loved you all my life!”
  23. August 2009
    1. 1608. “What hurts now, but might become love”
    2. 1621. “Forth, pilgrim, forth!”
  24. September 2009
    1. 1646. “I know where the wild things are”
    2. 1659. “bouquet of attention”
    3. 1663. “I am finally seeing, I was the one worth leaving”
  25. October 2009
    1. 1708. “Merleau-Ponty’s readers can know him”
    2. 1724. Why Do We Fall in Words? In Order to Avoid Falling Ill.
  26. December 2009
    1. 1794. The Good Enough Elegy
    2. 1818. “may be translated thus”
    3. 1824. “A written French that was at once rapid and cursive, quick to evoke images”
  27. July 2010
    1. 2084. Home Reparations
  28. July 2010
    1. 3027. “What the hell can you learn from Las Vegas?”
  29. December 2010
    1. 3095. “Why this overmastering need to communicate with others?”
  30. July 2011
    1. 3359. “a service of love”
  31. August 2011
    1. 3397. “The loss of all hope … does not deprive human reality of its possibilities”
    2. 3399. “show of grief”
    3. 3422. “It was not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was”
  32. September 2011
    1. 3427. “The Bondsman always labors in submission to the true master and Master, the fear of death”
    2. 3505. “Telephone Directory,” “Heaven”
    3. 3507. “She’d take it all for fun if I didn’t hurt her”
  33. October 2011
    1. 3527. “gigantic broken revelations”
    2. 3528. “The secret discipline of imagination”
    3. 3534. “On pardonne tant que l’on aime”
    4. 3540. “(Why is it such agony to meet people—at least sensitive people?)”
  34. November 2011
    1. 3551. “I say, we good Presbyterian Christians should be charitable in these things”
    2. 3570. “There are only two things: Truth and lies”
  35. December 2011
    1. 3597. “He glimpsed something generic and joyous, a pageant that would leave him behind”
  36. January 2012
    1. 3622. “the law of his heart”
    2. 3269. “He somehow felt he was headed in the right direction”
    3. 3270. “I track my uncontrollable footsteps”
    4. 3272. “the masked pain of his bewilderment and solitude”
  37. February 2012
    1. 3281. “Add the case that you had loved her”
    2. 3283. “grief for disappointments of no fatal consequence”
    3. 3287. The Human Part of Speech
    4. 3299. The Elements of Sympathy
    5. 3302. Tradition and the Individual Eavesdropper
    6. 3303. Notes toward Aphorisms
  38. March 2012
    1. 3313. “Money is a kind of poetry”
    2. 3314. We Apologize for the Allusions
    3. 3317. “a preponderance of loving affections”
    4. 3871. Conversion for Dummies
    5. 4004. “a love stronger than any impulse that could have marred it”
    6. 4010. “a piece of classical debris which insists on being noticed”
  39. April 2012
    1. 4014. “cleaning house and throwing out things you know you’re going to miss”
    2. 4020. “Why Write?”
    3. 4021. Principia Mathematica
    4. 4023. “how to talk to people you don’t like”
    5. 4037. “aspects of the life of Jack Kennedy of which Lyndon Johnson was unaware”
    6. 4039. “a cry of pure pain”
  40. May 2012
    1. 4047. “Several people on the trip told me that I was an inspiration, which made me feel good”
    2. 4050. “I think to myself: where have they gone?”
    3. 4060. Noncomputable Memories
    4. 4063. “Things answer only if they are questioned”
  41. June 2012
    1. 4073. Helping a Stranger Feel at Home
    2. 4081. “In the vast literature of love”
    3. 4094. “She touched—she admitted—she acknowledged the whole truth”
    4. 4098. “To wait”
    5. 4100. The Near Enough Angel
  42. July 2012
    1. 4102. The Abstraction of Love
    2. 4107. Sentiment and Author, Uncertain
    3. 4112. The Trouble with Parting
    4. 4113. “concealed from the reader”
    5. 4118. The Mirror Stages
    6. 4120. Beauty, Coming and Going
    7. 4129. “Turn your fear into a safeguard”
    8. 4130. “and apply yourself to your books or your business”
    9. 4132. “I dwell with a strangely aching heart”
  43. August 2012
    1. 4136. “the dread fear of the unemployed that the world needed them no longer”
    2. 4154. “the most surprising openness”
    3. 4159. “the dimmer but yet eager Titanic life gazing and struggling on walls and ceilings”
    4. 4161. Surpassing Speech
  44. September 2012
    1. 4170. “Good God, man, get on with your story!”
    2. 4172. Postseason Sentiment
    3. 4181. “The voice reaching us from a great distance must find a place in the text”
    4. 4182. Losing Voice to Regain It
    5. 4183. “though now superseded in details”
    6. 4186. “the purpose of writing”
    7. 4188. “their breathless disorder”
    8. 4189. Gods and Men
    9. 4190. A Will, Thus a Way
  45. October 2012
    1. 4196. Beyond Display
    2. 4198. “but yes, of course, I loved the … evenings of New York”
    3. 4200. “Come live with me, and be my love”
    4. 4230. Some Wounded Trees
    5. 4231. The Importance of Being Alone
    6. 4232. “She was never wholly admirable”
    7. 4237. “Often, almost nightly”
    8. 4244. Bringing up Baby
  46. November 2012
    1. 4245. This Side of the Dark Side
    2. 4251. Can You Hear Me Now?
    3. 4255. Weaker and Wiser
    4. 4258. The Care and Loving of a Gift
    5. 4260. “your whole peculiar plot”
    6. 4261. “What is truth?”
    7. 4262. Past “the province of literature”
    8. 4267. “I’ll come and see you again, as soon as I can”
    9. 4269. “He … gave me clues to keep me afloat in the conversational stream”
    10. 4270. “poor Marcus Aurelius”
  47. December 2012
    1. 4275. “her endless power of surrender”
    2. 4281. “Not a creature was stirring”
    3. 4284. The Portal’s Tale
    4. 4291. The Life of Love
    5. 4293. “a proficiency in telephoning and telegraphing”
    6. 4301. “an extraordinary mildness”
    7. 4304. “Mine would, sir, were I human”
    8. 4306. “Make it up as we go along”
  48. January 2013
    1. 4319. “whom I hopelessly love”
    2. 4324. Midlife Morning
    3. 4327. “my dreams are not calm”
  49. February 2013
    1. 4339. Finding My Picture of Dorian Gray
    2. 4349. “I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each”
    3. 4350. “I was part of the nastiness now”
    4. 4351. When What You Say Comes Out Just Right
    5. 4352. From Wary to Wonder
    6. 4355. “Having survived entirely your own youth”
    7. 4359. “prevented him from burning the difficult beginnings”
    8. 4360. Cold Gathering
  50. March 2013
    1. 4366. My Mother, and Welcome to Her!
    2. 4367. “difficult marvels”
    3. 4372. “vanished early”
    4. 4378. “I have now at last become a writer only”
    5. 4383. Something Given from Somewhere Hidden
    6. 4384. “busy seeking for otters”
    7. 4386. “this penetrative suggestion of life”
    8. 4388. Making Up in the Middle of the Night
    9. 4390. “The scars were of different ages”
  51. April 2013
    1. 4399. “I have promises to keep”
    2. 4400. Self-Doubt for Adults
    3. 4401. “for the party”
    4. 4402. “compelled her to grace”
    5. 4403. “impulses which she had not known before”
    6. 4404. “There are as many perfections as there are imperfect men”
    7. 4405. Reserve Army of Rescuers
    8. 4406. The Charmed Cycle
    9. 4407. “Only he and his opponent … knew that he was being destroyed”
    10. 4408. Self-Reliance for Commoners
    11. 4415. What to Love
    12. 4418. “funny”
  52. June 2013
    1. 4405. “an endlesse moniment”
    2. 4409. “for poetry was all written before time was”
    3. 4410. “What they made of his lectures is not known”
    4. 4411. “And in short, I was afraid”
    5. 4413. “the pleasure of giving respect”
  53. July 2013
    1. 4415. Of Bragging
    2. 4417. “writing at tension’s limit”
    3. 4419. “almost converted”
    4. 4420. “as if I, not they, were leaving”
    5. 4424. “up again old heart!”
    6. 4427. “irrevocably a poet”
    7. 4430. “speechless wonder”
    8. 4432. “not mentioned because it is the whole of the story”
    9. 4433. “our togetherness”
    10. 4434. “an agreeable melancholy”
    11. 4435. Books of Revelation
    12. 4439. “Dreams advise”
    13. 4441. Over My Head
  54. August 2013
    1. 4453. “A Need for Gardens”
    2. 4454. “Love Enough to Be Kind”
    3. 4456. “without losing his reverence”
    4. 4457. “his sincerities are … elegiac”
    5. 4458. “Make gentle the life of this world”
    6. 4464. Two Cheers for Vagueness
    7. 4465. Continuous Diary
    8. 4466. “But in the movie, died”
    9. 4468. “It’s the kingdom of heaven”
    10. 4474. “the small band of true friends”
    11. 4477. “The end of art is peace”
    12. 4478. “our Puritan anxiety”
  55. September 2013
    1. 4479. “Nature’s first green is gold”
    2. 4481. “her lovely, deliberate blandness”
    3. 4483. “Men who die childless … are denied an ancestor shrine”
    4. 4490. “For our vines have tender grapes”
    5. 4492. “Sincerity”
    6. 4493. “Fallings from us, vanishings”
    7. 5002. “Love those for whom the world is real”
    8. 5007. “Then, all of a sudden, I started to cry”
    9. 5008. “a God to thank”
  56. October 2013
    1. 5012. It’s Different from the Ones in Peru
    2. 5014. “I cannot be mended”
    3. 5016. “Where every paradox means wonder”
    4. 5017. Self-Pastoral
    5. 5018. “how he got out of the room”
    6. 5019. The Strangeness of Tears
    7. 5024. “We are going to be in for trouble”
    8. 5025. “where nobody was looking”
    9. 5026. Coming up Empty
    10. 5027. “It was now too late and too far to go back”
    11. 5030. “note”
    12. 5032. “where lost was found”
    13. 5033. Loving on Time
    14. 5034. “lost for lacke of telling”
    15. 5035. Thanks for That
    16. 5039. “so right”
    17. 5040. Street-Level Closeness
  57. November 2013
    1. 5042. Waiting for Light
    2. 5043. Playing Fair with Your Feelings
    3. 5044. “(I too in this dictum)”
    4. 5045. Coming and Going
    5. 5047. Another Country
    6. 5048. “hope”
    7. 5049. “sure as tomorrow morning”
    8. 5050. “a perfect edition of my works”
    9. 5051. “full of pain”
    10. 5052. Making It Through
    11. 5055. From Ritual to Romance
    12. 5056. “pathless ways into happy ones”
    13. 5057. Voir Dire
  58. December 2013
    1. 5072. The Good Enough Beginning
    2. 5074. “A Hundred Million Billion Sonnets”
    3. 5075. “He saw himself as a ludicrous figure”
    4. 5077. “like a tree of tears”
    5. 5079. Rage Comes Home to Roost
    6. 5080. “if nobody can understand it?”
    7. 5086. “burning boy”
    8. 5092. “allies in the fight”
    9. 5093. Part for the Whole
    10. 5094. News of the Day
    11. 5095. “Somebody loves us all”
    12. 5096. “real religious feeling”
    13. 5097. Seeing off People You Love
    14. 5098. Old and New Friends
    15. 5099. Lost and Found
    16. 5100. “Now Voyager”
  59. January 2014
    1. 5102. Fool for Love
    2. 5103. Keeping It Public
    3. 5104. “How can anyone want such things?”
    4. 5105. Mint Car
    5. 5106. Questions of Rescue
    6. 5111. “for One only”
    7. 5114. All for Love
    8. 5118. I’m So Much Less Sure of Myself Now Than I Used to Be
    9. 5119. “something understood”
    10. 5123. Notes as Novel
    11. 5129. One Step at a Time
    12. 5130. Finding Your Way through Fear
  60. February 2014
    1. 5134. Runaway
    2. 5137. Human Landscape
    3. 5139. Interpretation of Dreams
  61. March 2014
    1. 5191. How to Live
  62. April 2014
    1. 5211. Robert Frost
  63. May 2014
    1. 5236. Fantasy Fatherhood
    2. 5237. Love Story
  64. June 2014
    1. 5281. Then I Don’t Feel So Bad
  65. July 2014
    1. 5290. Revelation Roulette
    2. 5213. Why We Teach
    3. 5218. Good Enough for Good-bye
  66. Index

Product Information

  • Title: Note Book
  • Author(s): Jeff Nunokawa
  • Release date: April 2015
  • Publisher(s): Princeton University Press
  • ISBN: 9781400865567