A commonplace book is used to compile various forms of knowledge in one place. They’ve been used for hundreds if not thousands of years.

People who had a commonplace book or something very similar to it: John Locke, Carl Linnaeus, Seneca (more of a journal), da Vinci, Leopardi (Zibaldone).

da Vinci said the following on his notebook:

A collection without order, drawn from many papers, which I have copied here, hoping to arrange them later each in its place, according to the subjects of which they treat.

Many notes I personally take already resemble this form, so might as well put them out there. See where it leads.

I put down notes, I edit it. Writing disappears. - Zizek

Which (published) commonplace books are worth reading? It strikes me that context makes them less interesting for general consumption. There is no clear narrative or instrumental purpose, like Harry Potter, the Bible or the latest IKEA catalog. Instead, the context much be shaped and filtered. In that sense they are like the bottom of an iceberg. The raw notes that percolate down into some digestible.

(When is the sausage factory more interesting than the sausage itself? When you want to make sausage.)

Their value is in themselves. If used right, they are generators and enable distillation. Writing-as-thinking.

I don’t know what making these notes semi-public will do. But seems worth a shot.

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