I cant help but feel a tone of confession in my telling you this but I can’t help do it either. I love index cards. I love them to the that point I’m embarrassed about it. I love blank ones especially because so much seems possible and sinking graphite or pen into that soap-white card stock. I’ve seen so much ordered, expressed, recorded, preserved, learned, conceived through this tool. It’s quite portable, decently durable, it’s even substantial enough to make a tent for a place marker or a little folded booklet that travels and feels so much more right than a crumbly piece of paper full of treacherous, treasonous lines and offset margins. Writing, drawing, growing up with my grandfather, I especially liked it when he’d combine the two: diagramming gear watch escapements, fasteners, mechanisms, experiments, Platonic solids, Cartesian graphs, flash cards that you can shuffle!; mathematics, astronomy, terrible puns, pleas to abstain from smoking, and meteorology. Colored, gridded, scores, storyboarded, round corner, beveled corner, they even have three by five halve inches.
They traveled in his shirt pocket with a reverse-polish calculator — you can “really get going on those things once you get the hang of the syntax.” They littered the table after Sunday dinner while a hand of cards made its way round the table asking to be played, analyzed, discussed. It was healthy when it was healthy but Ed, my grandfather, could be quite intense about some things. The index cards were like little white flags of surrender. They were one of his gifts to everyone.