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27 September 2010

Commonplace Book Meme

A commonplace book is basically a book journal. You copy into it quotes that strike you and perhaps add some of your own commentary.

"Commonplacing is the practice of entering literary excerpts and personal comments into a private journal, that is, into a commonplace book or, to use a 17th century synonym, a silva rerum ("a forest of things"). Typically the excerpts were regarded as exceptionally insightful or beautiful or as applicable to a variety of situations, and so as such they are often especially quotable. . . . The practice of commonplacing can be traced back in the European tradition to the 5th century B.C.E. and the Sophist, Protagoras.
-Norman Elliott Anderson, quoted by Lucia Knoles

I love my commonplace book. I write things I read in it; I ponder the scriptures and literature in it. I sometimes copy my favorite blog posts into it. I choose poetry and other beautiful language to do for "copywork" and practice beautiful writing in it. I'm giving my children a Classical Education, and I want one for myself. My commonplace book is the physical location of the various self-education projects I have going at any given time.

Classical self-education demands that you understand, evaluate, and react to ideas. In your journal, you will record your own summaries of your reading; this is your tool for understanding the ideas you read. This - the mastery of facts - is the first stage of classical education. (Well Educated Mind, pg 39)

Remember that the goal of grammar-stage reading is to know what the author says; the goal of logic-stage inquiry is to understand why and how. The final stage of reading - your rhetoric-stage pass through the book - has a third goal. Now you know what, why, and how. The final question is: So what? (Well Educated Mind, pg 46)

I thought I'd try a new meme. Tuesdays, I'll post a bit from my commonplace book. The plan is for this to be a bit that's gone in this week, though in a pinch I'd put up something from a while ago! You post what you've written, and then come on over and link up. I even made a button.


nikko said...

I've never heard of it, but I like the idea! Thanks!

Ritsumei said...

I just use a spiral notebook. The mead 5-star notebooks with the plastic covers have served me well. I'm just starting my third one. You'll have to come back & share what you've put in it.


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