I'm also thinking so much about notebooks because the work I'm starting to work on (again), Mad Wife, is a notebook, it is a fictionalized notebook, based on my own notes, much like Rilke's Malte Laurid Brigge (yes, much like Rilke, she says, I play piano, he says, much like Rachmaninoff). And plays with the notion of what we cannot write, what we retain, we save, our scratches & scraps. The model of the work is the Sibyl writing scraps of the paper at the cave, scattering to the wind if unread. Also the notebooks of Jane Bowles, the last notebooks of Sylvia, the imagined asylum notebooks of Vivienne & Zelda.
So have been, aided by the critical blogging community, thinking about writing, why we write, why I write, the relationship of writing to the self, of writing to death. Is writing a way of transcending the self? Of coming to terms with death? Of enacting a death? (now I am thinking of Collobert's notebooks, again, what I find most interesting about the notebooks is the suicide performed at the end, not Collobert's actual physical suicide, exactly, but the suicide of the book, much like Ted Hughes said that Plath's last notebook suicides, because it becomes a series of creative notes, but why is that a suicide? couldn't that be a form of resurrection? of the artist? a transcending of the self? I think of the ekstasis of Book Two of Malte Laurids Brigge vs. Book One. No one else I've met can get through Book Two! I love that transition, from the bodily self to transcendence).
I have also been thinking of the notion of witness in terms of our relationships to reading & writing. I have just finished reading The Ravishing of Lol Stein (now this too is my favorite Duras). But I think of the voyeurism that happens in the work, the need to enact and pay witness to a scene of trauma, to repeat, to remark. I think in many ways this mirrors our relationship to writing and reading, so bound up in loss & desire, the need to resurrect trauma, to remember, to repeat, to be read. To be read - to be witnessed. The need to reenact the theaters of our sufferings, theaters as a sort of battle, a war, played across our bodies (for writing is embodied, isn't it? isn't reading embodied as well? My body tingles erotically when I read Duras. I am reader, witness, to her words, to this scene.)
As Duras writes: The void is statue. The pedestal is there: the sentence.
Also with Lol Stein I kept on thinking of Jelinek's The Piano Teacher. These are both works about witness & voyeurism, the need to reenact some sort of primal scene, to have someone play witness to our pain. I think of Lol Stein lying dreamily in the rye fields. Erika squatting while watching bodies entangle against a tree. We need others to write a narrative of ourselves. We must be characters in other novels. We need to witness and be witnessed.
So I am going to very much plagiarize from Bhanu's blog and post some interesting comments I've been reading about these ideas (I will not put them together! I will leave them for you! It will be a notebook for you, a series of notes, a failed blog post).
From Bhanu Kapil on Harriet:
I threw the book into a dark garden and let it, all that winter, rot; retrieving it before the weather turned, to transcribe what was legible. Though I considered burning it, I threw the notebook, instead, into the bin. (Then, feeling guilty, plucked it out and put it in the recycling instead.) Some notes on retrieval, on the circulatory and evolutionary intensity of “scraps“; of the notebook next to the book: the book that fails...
From Deviant Forms
I had been reading Camus’ journals steadily, over the last few years (including his last notebooks published in English in 2008 by Ivan R. Dee). I have only recently weaned myself off of them. But I am still haunted by the image of his muddied briefcase—ejected from the car in the fatal accident—returned to his widow.
Writing is a way of chasing off death. Perhaps, I have been reading too much Blanchot (and lately Bataille). This can be viewed in the inverse: Through writing we more fully live. Or at least, through writing, one wrestles with existence. The literary writer struggles with… struggles toward existence. 
The embodied after-image of subjective imaginings.
Writing is making a mark. Leaving an image. Through the captured image we think, but then it is offered out, and the thought becomes collective. This collective thinking may be less than dialogue. It simply may be shared contemplation over the same set of marks. We think collectively, from writer to reader, reader to writer, but at first from writer to herself. A reflection. A proof of existence. The embodied after-image of subjective imaginings. And, perhaps, the book. And to the reader, a proof of existence also. The possibility of writing opens up. The possibility of the work that writing embodies.
But this is only an ideal. Of course, this collective thinking is disjointed, fraught, rife with miscommunication. This ideal also neglects the business and machinations of publishing. The other side of janus-faced literature: the book as commodity.
From a dialogue on my comment stream about yoga and writing (which was really about writing as a way of practicing death, or a way of transcending the self):
It seems to me that writing and yoga can be at odds, as you say above, at least when writing comes from or is connected to self. Yoga can eliminate the desire or incentive to write. But then there's this quote from Nietzsche that I like to throw around as if I know anything about Nietzsche:
"the only subjective artist we know is the bad artist and the prime demand we make of every kind and level of art is the conquest of subjectivity, release and redemption from 'I', and the falling silent of all individual willing and desiring; indeed without objectivity, without pure disinterested contemplation, we are unable to believe that any creation, however slight, is genuinely artistic."
The writing we value most is writing that transcends the author, isn't it? And we could even say, maybe, that we value writing to the extent that it transcends the author... and speaks to everyone. So this suggests that writing and yoga are not entirely at odds, but rather that writing is best where it meets yoga, at the disappearance of the self.
What would a yogic writing look like, is my question for you now: beyond bending our bodies into Sanskrit letters, can we put a yogic writing on paper?
Or is it impossible, as you hint? Because of death. I know a writer here in Chicago who quit writing when she became a teacher of Buddhist meditation because, she said, "there is no narrative." And, right, without death there's no narrative, no need for narrative, no endings, no need to contemplate endings. If we're truly prepared for death through yoga we don't need to write stories. Which seems to doom writers to being poor yogis or to commit yogis to life without writing.
It's interesting that your friend gave up writing when she became a meditation teacher. The possibilities for how people can exist as practitioners of meditation are endless, but I don't think meditation is at odds with writing, necessarily. I guess it could be. I have found that as I get closer and closer to my writing process it gets closer and closer to my meditation practice. Sometimes there's no narrative in narrative. It depends on what's being narrated; and not all writing is narrative. It too can be a kind of watching of the self. I have a wonderful Zen Buddhist teacher in Chicago (who I don't get to see very often anymore since I'm now in LA) who talks about zazen (meditation) as a kind of performance art. It's not that people watch you, but you watch yourself, in your body, sitting. Actually you look at a wall, which is like a screen, like your mind is a screen when you watch it.
But, the truth is, I have no idea what it means to transcend the self. I think Simone Weil probably did, and Anne Carson knows what it means intellectually, and perhaps through experience too. I'm not sure. I think it's an extremely difficult place to get to, an advanced stage; and when writers say they've lost or dropped the "I," I don't believe them. It's still there, but in a different form. I do know that googling myself doesn't get me closer to transcending the self. Maybe getting lost does; immersing myself (or being immersed) in a strange or unknown place or person or situation. This includes yoga and meditation. I love the way my mind becomes quiet when it's my body's turn to be active.
And now, thinking of Amina Cain's Les Figues collection I Go To Some Hollow, which I reviewed a while back for The Believer (how! could I have read Amina without reading Duras! I feel shameful & sorrowful about that). Amina wrote me in the comments that Ravishing of Lol Stein is her favorite, and I see that so much now, that connection is made for me. Her stories are about these dreamlike landscapes where bodies make these strange erotic connections.
Also: Bhanu Kapil on Ravishing of Lol Stein in Jack Kerouac is a Punjabi. It is all gorgeous.
To have contact with the person who witnessed your betrayal. To betray the witness because you were not aware of the witness stroking your hand all night. To counter-obliterate the shame of having been seen, entranced, by your own betrayal. To see and not to feel. To reverse the conditions but not to repeat. To recreate them with an ancillary element not dominant in its time. A psychotic rephrasing. A new path.
Also: Bhanu Kapil in the comment stream here, on The Piano Teacher & Ravishing of Lol Stein.
Perhaps just a brief note -- thinking of Lol lying in that rye, the window's rectangle of golden light faltering above her - her passivity; reading that, at the time, I thought of a charnel ground/staying all night, seated, meditating there -- this links to Jelinek [and, at the cafe/bookstore this morning, I saw a new book, commercial fiction called The Piano Teacher, so asked for a post it from the counter and wrote a note redirecting possible customers to the other Piano Teacher, saying they should read that one instead; probably, they've taken it down by now...]: this tantric capacity for stillness and extreme contact combined.
I love this Post-It note guerrilla tactics.
Also: As I wrote Bhanu, I googled The Ravishing of Lol Stein and the second link to come up was a literature & medicine database.
Family Relationships, Hysteria, Loneliness, Love, Mental Illness, Obsession, Pain, Suffering, Women's Health
and then this:
This is a novel about the dull absence of pain, a sort of hysterical anesthesia, induced by the traumatic loss of Lol Stein’s young love. David B. Morris, in The Culture of Pain (pp. 117-120, see this database), uses the book as a literary example of hysterical numbness among women in contemporary society. He seems to say that the rejection of pain (when pain is appropriate) may lead to a continuing inability to experience any feelings at all. Duras, in Morris’ interpretation, suggests that in our society this may be problem of gender, rather than finding its roots in Lol’s childhood experience.
This blog post is becoming an orgy. So many legs and elbows. And in the center, still, always the silent one, Lol Stein.