- Feb 2023
Journal and zettelkasten.<br /> by flin
One of the benefits of journaling on an index card is that the small space is much less intimidating than a large blank sheet, particularly when one isn't in the mood but feels like they ought to write. This is similar to the idea that many people find that microblogs (Twitter, Mastodon, Tumblr) are much easier to maintain than a long form blog.
I keep a wholly separate section of one of my boxes as a journal/diary as well, but it's less significant and is ordered only by date with very sparse indexing and an almost non-existent amount of linking. I have a bit of @Sascha's practice going on there, though certainly not as deep as his excellent description. I would caution newcomers to the practice of ZK to be very conscious of what, how, and why they're integrating a journaling practice into their workflow so that they don't risk what I call "zettelkasten overreach". Guarding against this sort of overreach can very easily be seen in my separate/distinct "journal on index cards" versus Sascha's more explicitly thought out "journal within a zettelkasten".
One might have considered some of this part of his (Roland Barthes') fichier boîte (French for zettelkasten) as a journal/diary or what some might today consider a private microblog of thoughts and observations.
reply lifted from my notes:
Henry David Thoreau kept both a commonplace book (essentially a traditional (non-Luhmann-esque) zettelkasten in notebook form) and a separate writing journal where he did what most would consider typical 'journaling', but where he also tried out phrasing, writing, and other experimental work that would ultimately become part of his published written output. This may be a useful model for some. His journals ran to multiple volumes, but a good edited version with a nice introduction to some of his work and methods can be found in:
- Thoreau, Henry David. The Journal: 1837-1861. Edited by Damion Searls. Original edition. New York: NYRB Classics, 2009.
Similarly Roland Barthes used his card index as more than the traditional bibliographical, excerpting, and note taking tool that many had before him. He also used it to accumulate notes on what he had seen and heard in his daily life, phrases he liked, and plans. It came to serve the function, particularly in the last two years of his life, of a diary or what biographer Tiphaine Samoyault came to call his fichierjournal or index-card diary. Published posthumously on October 12, 2010, Mourning Diary is a collection from Roland Barthes' 330 index cards focusing on his mourning following the death of his mother in 1977.
- Barthes, Roland. Mourning Diary. Macmillan, 2010. https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374533113/mourningdiary.
- Budelis, Kristina. “Barthes’s Hand.” The New Yorker, September 8, 2010. http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/barthess-hand.
- Samoyault, Tiphaine, and Jonathan Culler. Barthes: A Biography. Translated by Andrew Brown. 1st edition. Cambridge ; Malden, MA: Polity, 2017.
The reason is that the journaling is in part an accumulative method: There is a long period of low-structured input which benefits manifest first acutely (writing in itself seems to be healing through understanding). After you amassed a time-line of thoughts you can try to find throughlines and patterns which then gives you access to deep insights if you have the right tools. Most of the time people use psychologists which I think is in a similar way problematic that people use physical therapists for too much of their problems: Many problems are best solved by the person that has immediate access to the ego-perspective (phenomenological layer, subjective access, etc.) of the problem. This is of course dependent on self-education on basic concepts of what I call true self-care. Self-care seems to be associated with stuff like doing pleasant things (hot bath, nice walks in the sun) nowadays. If you take the antifragile nature of us humans into account this is just another way of the modern hedonist to keep stuck. (This is important for my approach to incorporate journaling into the Zettelkasten Method)
—Sasha Fast https://forum.zettelkasten.de/profile/Sascha
I love the deeper definition and distinction of self-care here.
- journaling vs. zettelkasten
- zettelkasten overreach
- thought spaces
- microblogging vs. blogging
- Roland Barthes
- Sasha Fast
- user interface
- blank page
- blank page brainstorming
- Sascha Fast
- small spaces
- zettelkasten as therapy