Nulla Dies Sine Linea

Nulla Dies Sine Linea

I’ve been waiting patiently for the end of the year in order to begin my One Line a Day diary, and after a fortnight of writing, I love it! Not only the idea of a condensed five-year record, but the book itself. The cover is blue-green with gold lettering, the pages are nicely laid out in blue and gold, and the ribbon is a peachy-pink. The gilt edges throw out a golden nimbus around the book, like a long-lost tome in an adventure film.

Golden Notebook

Each page is dedicated to one day, and has blanks for five years. Contrary  to the title, there are 5 lines for each day of each year, which is very welcome given the book is a diminutive 10cm x 16cm. Writing the entries is an exercise that can be rendered as precise and poetic as you please.

One Line a Day Diary

According to Wikipedia, the phrase “nulla dies sine linea” (no day without a line) is attributed to the painter Apelles via Pliny. Henriette Klauser mentions the epigram in Writing on Both Sides of the Brain: “I have the motto, in Latin, as a deliberately florid plaque above my desk and writ in large letters across the front of my PL [Progress Log]. Every day I write something, and that something often develops into the unexpected.” I decided to follow suit and designed a simple A4 poster to remind me of my commitment. The typeface is the beautifully linear Didot, and I printed my poster on blue paper. There is an interesting class on Skillshare that covers the basics of typography design, if you would rather create your own.

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Another quotation that comes to mind is Seneca’s (slightly paraphrased) “propra vivere et singulos dies singulas vitas puta”: hasten to live, and consider a single day, a single life. What if you wrote your diary first and then lived your day? When you re-read your entires five years later, will you want truth or entertainment? I have a short memory, I’ll go for the latter.

One Line a Day Journal

I’m not sure what makes a proverb more pithy in Latin. Is it due to a characteristic of the language, like its declinability, or the lack of articles? Is it the association of Latin with scholarship and science? Or is it simply the foreignness of the words, which same impulse leads people to tattoo curious Chinese calligraphy on their bodies? Omne ignotum pro magnifico.

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