- Last 7 days
In §§ 4–5, I examine the socio-evolutionary circumstances under which a closed combinatory, such as the one triggered by the Llullian art, was replaced by an open-ended combinatory, such as the one triggered by a card index based on removable entries. In early modernity, improvement in abstraction compelled scholars to abandon the idea that the order of knowledge should mirror the order of nature. This development also implied giving up the use of space as a type of externalization and as the main rule for checking consis-tency.
F*ck! I've been scooped!
Apparently I'm not the only one who has noticed this, though I notice that he doesn't cite Frances A. Yates, which would have certainly been the place for having come up with this historical background (at least that's where I found it.)
The Llullian arts can be more easily practiced with ideas placed on moveable index cards than they might be with ideas stored in one's own memory. Thus the index card as a tool significantly decreases the overhead and provides an easier user interface for permuting one's ideas and combining them. This decrease in mental work appearing at a time of information overload also puts specific pressure on the older use of the art of memory to put it out of fashion.
- May 2022
- Apr 2022
One of his last works, the Aurifodina, “The Mine of All Arts and Sci-ences, or the Habit of Excerpting,” was printed in 1638 (in 2,000 copies) andin another fourteen editions down to 1695 and spawned abridgments in Latin(1658), German (1684), and English.
Simply the word abridgement here leads me to wonder:
Was the continual abridgement of texts and excerpting small pieces for later use the partial cause of the loss of the arts of memory? Ars excerpendi ad infinitum? It's possible that this, with the growth of note taking practices, continual information overload, and other pressures for educational reform swamped the prior practices.
For evidence, take a look at William Engel's work following the arts of memory in England and Europe to see if we can track the slow demise by attrition of the descriptions and practices. What would such a study show? How might we assign values to the various pressures at play? Which was the most responsible?
Could it have also been the slow, inexorable death of many of these classical means of taking notes as well? How did we loose the practices of excerpting for creating new ideas? Where did the commonplace books go? Where did the zettelkasten disappear to?
One author, with a carefully honed practice and the extant context of their life writes some brief notes which get passed along to their students or which are put into a new book that misses a lot of their existing context with respect to the new readers. These readers then don't know about the attrition happening and slowly, but surely the knowledge goes missing amidst a wash of information overload. Over time the ideas and practices slowly erode and are replaced with newer techniques which may not have been well tested or stood the test of time. One day the world wakes up and the common practices are no longer of use.
This is potentially all the more likely because of the extremely basic ideas underpinning some of memory and note taking. They seem like such basic knowledge we're also prone to take them for granted and not teach them as thoroughly as we ought.
How does one juxtapose this with the idea of humanist scholars excerpting, copying, and using classical texts with a specific eye toward preventing the loss of these very classical texts?
Is this potentially the idea of having one's eye on a particular target and losing sight of other creeping effects?
It's also difficult to remember what it was like when we ourselves didn't know something and once that is lost, it can be harder and harder to teach newcomers.
- disappearance of note taking practices
- commonplace books
- disappearance of the art of memory
- context collapse
- information overload
- note taking
- ars excerpendi
- education reform
- Jan 2022
- Dec 2021
Drexel, for instance, held those teach-ers ridiculous who taught students to build up houses and rooms by means of imagination and stock them with images of memorable subjects (imagines agentes).16 According to the German Jesuit, the effort was not only huge but students wasted their time because images escape from these artificial places
much as prisoners escape from jails without guards.17 16 Drexel, Aurifodina, 258 17 Drexel, Aurifodina, 3–4.
Jeremias Drexel (1581 – 1638) recommended against the method of loci during the explosion of information in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
Add Drexel to the list of reformers against the ars memoria in the early 1600s.)
While dealing with the information overload, educators may have inadvertently thrown out the baby with the bath water. While information still tends to increase and have increased complexity, some areas also show compression and concatenation and new theories subsume old information into their models. This means that one might know and understand Einstein which means that memorizing Newton's work is no longer needed at some point. Where should one draw the line of memorization for subsuming the knowledge of their culture? Aren't both old and new methods for memory usable? Keep the ars memoria while also using written methods.
Simultaneously, there was a revival of the old art of excerpting and the use of commonplace books. Yet, the latter were perceived no longer as memory aids but as true secondary memo-ries. Scholars, in turn, became increasingly aware that to address the informa-tion overload produced by printing, the best solution was to train a card index instead of their own individual consciousness.
Another reason for the downfall of older Western memory traditions is the increased emphasis and focus on the use of commonplaces and commonplace books in the late 1400s onward.
Cross reference the popularity of manuals by Erasmus, Agricola, and Melanchthon.
Over these two centuries, an in-creasing impatience for the ancient art of memory based on the use of imagi-nation could be detected in the academic milieu.
Following the invention of moveable type, the information overload created in the two centuries between 1550 and 1750, placed a major burden and impatience, particularly on academic scholars, on the use of the ancient arts of memory based on the use of imagination. In addition to the education reforms by those like Peter Ramus, this may have been a major motivating factor for forgetting this prior tradition of knowledge acquisition and management.
What is one to do when there's seemingly "too much to memorize"?
- Nov 2021
How can these modern translations and related translations be compared and contrasted to the original passage of the stories in their original bardic traditions?
Cross reference the orality work of Milman Parry, et al.
- Sep 2021