Almost certainly a note to myself. Creating a common place

I’m probably posting this on a whim. I’ve been intending to post here, in chronological order, comments I’ve made on the net in recent times, not coz I think anyone would read it but simply to have them all together, in a common place, for my own convenience. As no-one other than me is ever likely to read this offering the fact I’m only starting it now is of no significance.

It was reflecting on something I posted this morning that convinced me I should make a start, but rather than do the above job it makes more sense to post that piece, an observation on recent daily life in western Ukraine.

I’ll post it separately, here I just want to remark on the idea of creating a common place, not least as it’s to do with something new I’ve learned in the last week or so, & it also concerns etymology, a persistent interest of mine, not least coz it helps me remember words, their spelling, & it’s also fun.

In English it seems the concept of a common place book arose during the European Renaissance. Essayists would copy interesting text, pen their own thoughts, keeping them all together in a common place, in a single book. Commonplacing was quite the rage in certain circles. All quite different from the current meaning.

By chance I came across this when trying to find some Amazon Warehouse bargains. I saw something entitled A Little Common Place Book, misreading it as ‘Common Prayer’, then pausing & searched, finding this:

A Little Common Place Book

The 2010 book, US publisher & made in South Korea, is mostly blank pages – it is a common place book – but reproduces pages from a 1797 exemplar: its title-page, the publisher’s advert (Hamilton & Co.), & an introduction explaining an indexing method applied more than a hundred years before by John Locke to his own common place books.

The publisher’s site also has a lengthy audio clip of a discussion,, involving a Harvard prof, Ann Blair, who wrote Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age, 2010, the Yale UP cover reproducing an interesting painting (or just a detail) I hadn’t seen before. Anyone know its creator, & title? Dutch Old Master I guess. Too chaotic for a Vermeer but evocative of a typical composition of his.

And the book only cost me just over a guinea.

Finally, let me say, I’ll also make time to improve the aesthetic of this digital common place book, get away from the greyness.


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