21 Matching Annotations
  1. May 2022
    1. People in the Renaissance broke texts into fragments and used these to assemble and connect. It was, perhaps, the original remix culture and ultimate foundation of creativity.

      I'm wondering if I'm going to see signs of Raymond Lull's ideas here?

    1. Finally, and as fundamentally as there is a numerical memory and a dia-lectical memory, there is a geometry of memory too. Almost every monas-tic mnemotechnical scheme—ladders, roses, buildings, maps—was based ongeometrical figures: squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, and complex refor-mations of these, including three-dimensional structures

      She doesn't mention it, but they're not only placing things in order for potential memory purposes, but they're also placing an order on their world as well.

      Ladders and steps were frequently used to create an order of beings as in the scala naturae or the Great Chain of Being.

      Some of this is also seen in Ramon Lull's Ladder of Ascent and Descent of the Mind, 1305 (Ars Magna)

    1. the Llullian combinatory was not really different: by rotating and re-rotating wheels, the user always got the same combinations. One who had mastered this complicated mechanism would have nothing new to learn, despite the astonishing number of possible combinations. This machine was designed to

      repeat the known rather than to explore the unknown; therefore, it functioned as an engine of redundancy rather than as an engine of variety. 53

      1. This distinction is drawn from Blair, Too Much to Know, 236, who uses it with respect to early modern reference books.

      I'm not sure that I agree with this as the number of combinations can quickly become incredibly large.

    2. n modern terms, we could say that the Llullian art had been designed to function as a type of search engine. As Llull himself admitted at the beginning of his Ars brevis, the purpose of the mechanism was to provide the user with the opportunity to have a prompt answer to any question, provided that the user knew the meaning of the word used for the query.51 This definition could describe Google as well.

      I've long been contemplating the modern-day equivalents of the Llullian combinatorial arts and the relationship to Google's search engine is an interesting one.

      I've always said that knowing the name of the thing you're searching for (especially in technical settings) will aid you immeasurably in finding it. For example, if you're searching for content management systems and don't know that as their name or even the name of an example, you're unlikely to be very successful.

    3. . That memory is based on order, and that order is a synonym for memory, were not novel ideas. According to Aristotle (De mem. et rem. ii, 452a 15), memory would be impossible without two requisites: the availability of a starting point and order.

      I'll have to read Aristotle's De mem. et rem., but this looks like it's heavily influenced by the the method of loci which encodes things based on location which forces order.

      Raymond Llull's ideas about combinations precluded order however. What could be done by removing order from the equation? Particularly for the idea of inventio?

    4. 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.

    1. I suspect that rather than being totally dreary, this transcribing step can also be a creative step, and I will see patterns of thought, generate new ideas…

      On the value of revising and revisiting notes. Similar to Raymond Llull's combinatorial creativity, but in a different form which doesn't require memory the same way.

    1. The aim of these books wasn’t regurgitation but rather combinatorial creativity. People were encouraged to improvise on themes and topics. Gathering raw material alone — in this case, information — is not enough. We must transform it into something new. It is in this light that Seneca advised copying the bee and Einstein advised combinatorial play.

      I was really hoping for so much more in this essay on the combinatorial creativity, espcially since the author threw the idea into the title. The real meat must be in the two linked articles about Seneca and Einstein.

      There is a slight mention of combinatorics in the justaposition of pieces within one's commonplace book, and a mention that these books may date back to the 12th century where they were probably more influenced by the combinatoric creativity of Raymond Lull. It's still an open question for me just how far back the idea of commonplaces goes as well as how far back Lull's combinatoric pieces go...

    1. Experienced practitioners [...] don't have to plod step by step through such a listing of concepts and questions. When they encounter a set of ideas or engage in debate, they can speed through the familiar relationships and spot at a glance the concepts that haven't been taken into account and the questions that haven't been asked. When they work out their own arguments or ideas, they can look at each point from a galaxy of different perspectives that might never come to mind without the help of the combinatorial system and the mental training it provides. Like the Lullian adepts of the Renaissance, they supplemented the natural capacities of their minds with the systematic practices of the combinatorial art. This, in turn, the art of memory seeks to do with the natural capacities of the human memory.  De Umbris Idearum, 'Working Bruno's Magic', p. 164
    1. suggested by Gessner for bibliographical units on slips of paper in subject or alphabetical order, for the generation of new texts through recombination.

      This sort of recombination is also seen in the work of Raymond Llull, though there he did it in a specific combinatorial way and implemented it in his memory rather than on paper.

    1. You need to put in the effort to create a note only once,and then you can just mix and match and try out differentcombinations until something clicks

      the echoes of Raymundus Llull here, but without any reference... le sigh

    2. If you’ve ever played the word-tile game Scrabble, you know thebest way to come up with new words is to mix up the letters indifferent combinations until a word jumps out at you

      Strategies for playing Scrabble are similar to those of Raymond Llull's combinatorial arts.

      I've done this with other games as well...

    1. The last element in his file system was an index, from which hewould refer to one or two notes that would serve as a kind of entrypoint into a line of thought or topic.

      Indices are certainly an old construct. One of the oldest structured examples in the note taking space is that of John Locke who detailed it in Méthode nouvelle de dresser des recueils (1685), later translated into English as A New Method of Organizing Common Place Books (1706).

      Previously commonplace books had been structured with headwords done alphabetically. This meant starting with a preconceived structure and leaving blank or empty space ahead of time without prior knowledge of what would fill it or how long that might take. By turning that system on its head, one could fill a notebook from front to back with a specific index of the headwords at the end. Then one didn't need to do the same amount of pre-planning or gymnastics over time with respect to where to put their notes.

      This idea combined with that of Konrad Gessner's design for being able to re-arrange slips of paper (which later became index cards based on an idea by Carl Linnaeus), gives us an awful lot of freedom and flexibility in almost any note taking system.

      Building blocks of the note taking system

      • atomic ideas
      • written on (re-arrangeable) slips, cards, or hypertext spaces
      • cross linked with each other
      • cross linked with an index
      • cross linked with references

      are there others? should they be broken up differently?

      Godfathers of Notetaking

      • Aristotle, Cicero (commonplaces)
      • Seneca the Younger (collecting and reusing)
      • Raymond Llull (combinatorial rearrangements)
      • Konrad Gessner (storage for re-arrangeable slips)
      • John Locke (indices)
      • Carl Linnaeus (index cards)
    1. This art of method was understood by Ramus and Ramists as its own efficacious art of memory. InScholae in liberales artes, Ramus is explicit about his disdain for the visual mnemonic rules suggested byclassical sources.“The art of memory,”he counters,“consists entirely in division and composition. If weseek then an art which will divide and compose things, we shall find the art of memory”(qtd. in Yates 233).Ramus thus enfolds the fourth canon into his methodical framework, linking memorization of content withits“division and composition,”that is, with its organization.

      Arrangement and organization definitely have their place and can be helpful. However they may also tend to become too rigid to the point that one's thinking begins to lack creativity and invention. Where is the space for the Llullist arts of combinatorial thought here?

    1. Moving beyond its role merely as a storehouse, generative aspects of the memory arts were highlighted by scholars like Raymond Llull. He designed mnemonic charts for considering all angles of an issue so as to arrive at otherwise unthought-of possibilities [Kircher, 1669]. This medieval system, consisting of diagrams and accompanying letters for easier exposition, was revived by the Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher [FIGURES 5 and 6].

      Raymond Llull's combinatoric art of memory was revived by Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher.

      want to read:

      Kircher, Athanasius, Artis Magnae Sciendi (Amsterdam, 1669).

    2. Active reading to the extreme!

      What a clever innovation building on the ideas of the art of memory and Raymond Llull's combinatoric arts!

      Does this hit all of the areas of Bloom's Taxonomy? I suspect that it does.

      How could it be tied more directly into an active reading, annotating, and note taking practice?

    1. In the case ofLévi-Strauss, meanwhile, the card index continued to serve inimportant ways as a ‘memory crutch’, albeit with a key differencefrom previous uses of the index as an aide-memoire. In Lévi-Strauss’case, what the fallibility of memory takes away, the card index givesback via the workings of chance. As he explains in an interview withDidier Erebon:I get by when I work by accumulating notes – a bitabout everything, ideas captured on the fly,summaries of what I have read, references,quotations... And when I want to start a project, Ipull a packet of notes out of their pigeonhole anddeal them out like a deck of cards. This kind ofoperation, where chance plays a role, helps merevive my failing memory. (Cited in Krapp, 2006:361)For Krapp, the crucial point here is that, through his use of indexcards, Lévi-Strauss ‘seems to allow that the notes may either restorememory – or else restore the possibilities of contingency which givesthinking a chance under the conditions of modernity’ (2006: 361).

      Claude Lévi-Strauss had a note taking practice in which he accumulated notes of ideas on the fly, summaries of what he read, references, and quotations. He kept them on cards which he would keep in a pigeonhole. When planning a project, he would pull them out and use them to "revive [his] failing memory."

      Questions: - Did his system have any internal linkages? - How big was his system? (Manageable, unmanageable?) - Was it only used for memory, or was it also used for creativity? - Did the combinatorial reshufflings of his cards provide inspiration a la the Llullan arts?

      Link this to the ideas of Raymond Llull's combinatorial arts.

    1. For the combinatorial logics used to make book catalogues at this time, see Garberson, ‘Libraries, Memory and theSpace of Knowledge’. See also Chapter 8, ‘The Library Catalogue’, in W. Clark, Academic Charisma and the Origins ofthe Research University (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2006).

      What influence, if any, would the ideas of Raymond Llull have had here?



    1. In explaining his approach, Luhmann emphasized, with the first stepsof computer technology in mind, the benefits of the principle of “multiple storage”: in the card index itserves to provide different avenues of accessing a topic or concept since the respective notes may be filedin different places and different contexts. Conversely, embedding a topic in various contexts gives rise todifferent lines of information by means of opening up different realms of comparison in each case due tothe fact that a note is an information only in a web of other notes. Furthermore it was Luhmann’s intentionto “avoid premature systematization and closure and maintain openness toward the future.”11 His way oforganizing the collection allows for it to continuously adapt to the evolution of his thinking and his overalltheory which as well is not conceptualized in a hierarchical manner but rather in a cybernetical way inwhich every term or theoretical concept is dependent on the other.

      While he's couching it in the computer science milieu of his day, this is not dissimilar to the Llullan combinatorial arts.