- Apr 2022
In his manuscript, Harrison spoke of machina with respect to his filing cabinet and named his invention ‘Ark of Studies’. In rhetorical culture, ‘ark’ had been a metaphor that, among many others, denoted the virtual store-house that orators stocked with vivid images of memorable topics (res) and words (verba). In Harrison’s manuscript, ‘ark’ instead became a synonym for ‘mechanical’ memory. In turn, in the distinction between natural and artificial memory, consciousness was compelled to leave its place and to shift to the op-posing side.
Thomas Harrison used the word machina to describe his 'Ark of Studies', a filing cabinet for notes and excerpts from other works. This represents part of a discrete and very specific change on the continuum of movement from the ars memoria (artificial memory) to the ars excerptendi (note taking). Within the rhetorical tradition relying on creating memorable images for topics (res) and words (verba) the idea of an ark was often used as a memory palace as seen in Hugh of St. Victor's De arca Noe mystica, or ‘‘The Ark of Noah According to the Spiritual Method of Reading" (1125–30). It starts the movement from natural and artificial memory to a form of external and mechanical memory represented by his physical filing cabinet.
Reference Yates and Carruthers for Hugh of St. Victor.
- Feb 2022
9/8g Hinter der Zettelkastentechnik steht dieErfahrung: Ohne zu schreiben kann mannicht denken – jedenfalls nicht in anspruchsvollen,selektiven Zugriff aufs Gedächtnis voraussehendenZusammenhängen. Das heißt auch: ohne Differenzen einzukerben,kann man nicht denken.
9/8g The Zettelkasten technique is based on experience: You can't think without writing—at least not in contexts that require selective access to memory.
That also means: you can't think without notching differences.
There's something interesting about the translation here of "notching" occurring on an index card about ideas which can be linked to the early computer science version of edge-notched cards. Could this have been a subtle and tangential reference to just this sort of computing?
The idea isn't new to me, but in the last phrase Luhmann tangentially highlights the value of the zettelkasten for more easily and directly comparing and contrasting the ideas on two different cards which might be either linked or juxtaposed.
- Graeber and Wengrow ideas of storytelling
Shield of Achilles and ekphrasis thesis
https://hypothes.is/a/I-VY-HyfEeyjIC_pm7NF7Q With the further context of the full quote including "with selective access to memory" Luhmann seemed to at least to make space (if not give a tacit nod?) to oral traditions which had methods for access to memories in ways that modern literates don't typically give any credit at all. Johannes F.K .Schmidt certainly didn't and actively erased it in Niklas Luhmann’s Card Index: The Fabrication of Serendipity.
- shield of Achilles
- scientific method
- mechanical computing
- compare and contrast
- tools for thought
- computer science
- origins of the computer
- edge-notched cards
- Dec 2021
Jacob Leupold, Theatrum machinarum. Theatrum arithmetico-geometricum, Das ist: Schau-Platz der Rechnen- und Meß-Kunst, vol. 7 (Leipzig, 1727)
Reference that discusses calculating machines and information processors.
It is telling that during the same period in which Harrison invented his Ark of Studies, the first calculating machines were tested in Europe: the famous cista mathematica by Athanasius Kircher, the or-ganum mathematicum by Kaspar Schott, and the cistula by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.
Keep in mind that Leibniz actually had a version of Harrison's cabinet in his possession. (cf. Paper Machines)
Through an inner structure of recursive links and semantic pointers, a card index achieves a proper autonomy; it behaves as a ‘communication partner’ who can recommend unexpected associations among different ideas. I suggest that in this respect pre-adaptive advances took root in early modern Europe, and that this basic requisite for information pro-cessing machines was formulated largely by the keyword ‘order’.
aliases for "topical headings": headwords keywords tags categories
In § 3, I explain that to have a life of its own, a card index must be provid-ed with self-referential closure.
In order to become a free-standing tool, the card index needed to have self-referential closure.
This may have been one of the necessary steps for the early ideas behind computers. In addition to the idea of a clockwork universe, the index card may have been a step towards early efforts at creating the modern computer.