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I’ve been doing some more looking around the net about commonplace books, and came across this article by Alan Jacobs. He discusses the correlation between commonplace books and today’s blogs, which is something that had already occurred to me, but also makes distinction between two different types of commonplace book. I hadn’t previously focussed on this difference.
I also feel as he does, that it is very easy to cut and paste heaps of text without really reading it. The acid test for this, I suppose, is to close the window with the original, then try and retype it in your own words, then go back to the original and see how close the two are. Only by reading carefully and remembering accurately can you get a good match, and I know I’d often fail that test.
It’s easy to copy and paste lots of stuff on the basis that it might be useful or relevant someday. My feeling is that very often it won’t, or by the time it might have been useful you will have forgotten where you put it, or it will be in a format which you no longer have the software for.
I find that the same applies to pieces of paper. Every so often a piece of paper will cross my desk which doesn’t require any specific immediate action. Somebody gave it to me or sent it to me for some unkown reason, and I left it there because I was unsure what to do with it. Every now and then I decide to tidy my desk, and I realise the piece of paper is still there, I’ve done nothing with it, and it’s not relevant any more. That’s when it goes in the bin, or the recycling.  Often the problem of what to do with a piece of paper is solved by this wait and see method.
Lately I’ve been trying to shorten the process, by looking at the paper when it first arrives and considering whether it comes into this category. If it does I discard it straight away rather than letting it take up space on my desk. So far I haven’t discarded anything which later turned out to be important, or at least if I have I don’t know about it yet.
Another blog I found on the subject was the commonplace book of Roberta Norwich, here. Roberta Norwich is not her real name I gather, but some kind of historian’s in-joke which I’m not in with. The name caught my eye not only because it was a commonplace book, but because I grew up in and around Norwich in England. When I read further through Roberta’s blog I discovered that she and I had gone to the same school, Wymondham College, also in Norfolk. This prompted me to spend some time looking around the College website, and reminiscing about my schooldays. The old place certainly has changed since the late 60s and early 70s when I was there, but I guess we all have. I’m now considering trying to get in touch with any old students who now live in WA and maybe arranging to meet up.
Roberta calls herself an opsimath, which I had to look up. It means ‘one who starts, or continues, to learn late in life’. Something we should all aspire to I believe, and I definitely intend to be one, although my chosen studies so far are nowhere near as academic as Roberta’s.
A somewhat rambling post this, I’m trying to think of a theme to tie it all together. How about this – it’s about commonplace books, which are a gathering together of often unrelated ideas, all relevant to the creator of the book for some reason.
I’ve also been doing research on Art Deco designs for inspiration for my project, and found some wonderful designs by Pierre Legrain. I’m indebted to Alhpachannel for this link to some images of his work, outstandingly beautiful. I’d love to be able to do something on these lines for my cover, but I fear it’s beyond me.