"Inscription is a critical part of 'use.' Far from being passive, readers, in their act of marking — a conscious deciding to remember — become participants in a historical body of understanding.... [T]hese marks constitute a kind of graffiti, albeit one stripped of its transgressive connotations... [Books] were items to be improved, even perfected, by the marginal additions of their owners. This historical understanding of books as locations, as readerly edifices within which one might store practical information, binding legal documentation, jokes, and ownership lists, alongside more traditional textual engagement, challenges our contemporary perception of a book’s materiality, one which often equates pristine margins with the value of the new. 'At what point did marginalia […] become a way of defacing [the book] rather than of increasing its value?'..."
From an essay on marginalia by Dustin Illingworth.
Marginalia is the oldest topic on this blog, the subject of the first post, and actually the original name of this blog.