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May 1, 2011

Since my early twenties, I’ve been keeping commonplace books. A commonplace is, essentially, a blank book into which you record the things you read, are taught, or find through various other means. It’s not something you write, so much as edit. It started in universities around the 1500’s, when the price of paper was reduced, and standard textbooks hadn’t yet been created. Many famous authors kept commonplaces, including Mark Twain, Thoreau, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Mine tends to be a way to amplify and remember what I’ve read. When I find a passage that resonates for some reason, I simply earmark the page. Later, I either photocopy it or transcribe directly, depending on the length of the passage.

Currently, I have a huge stack of photocopies waiting to be transcribed, and I know I’ll never have the time to do it. I’m starting to think about choosing a page template, bulk printing it, and then cutting and taping the raw copies into them. After that, I can photocopy everything again, double-sided, and then bind using whatever method I prefer. It’s a little wasteful, but I’ve gone the route of pasting copies directly into a bound book, and it will never lay flat again. I want something I can flip through.

A few years ago, I went through the process of digitizing a lot of material, and using InDesign to create a book. I have a lot of regrets about that process, many of which revolve around my meagre typography skills.

But one of my biggest regrets was not creating an index.

Indexing is something that requires a lot of skill, if you’re doing a topic index. For author and title indexes, the job is a little easier, even if it’s not the sexiest thing in the world to do on a Saturday night. But, it’s worth it.

The rules for indexing are quite complex (The Chicago Manual of Style devotes over a hundred pages to the topic). The index I’m building is somewhere inbetween an index and a bibliography, and there doesn’t seem to be rules for that. I’m making things up as I go.

I’ve built two indexes so far, and they’ve been challenging, mainly because I’ve lost, sold, or given away much of the source material, and only have a quotation left, to which I can’t ascribe a chapter, or sometimes even a book, to. I’ve begun to record some of this information, but without software, there’s a limit to how much bibliographic information you can compile. The important thing is the material, and finding it again.

The dilemma right now is that I have multiple commonplaces, all in various states of completion. The question is whether I make a seperate book that indexes everything, or add them to books as I finish them. I’m beginning to think that a cental index may be the most useful.

Below is a completed index in it’s current state. Whole books are italicized. Chapters, poems, and stories are put into quotation marks. I’ve alphabetized as best I can, but many foreign names are probably in the wrong place.

Page numbers refer to where they exist in this commonplace book, not the original location in the source book. When a page number follows a book, and then individual chapters are listed with their own references, it means I no longer know which chapter the quote came from.

Full disclaimer: I can’t claim to have read every book listed here. I find many quotations and excerpts in collections, and I’ve referenced the original work, not where I’ve found it.

If you’re a professional indexer, I’d love to hear your thoughts. But please, be gentle with me. I don’t do this for a living, and this isn’t meant to even compete with a professional’s work.

Index for my second commonplace book

Robert Adams
	Beauty in Photography: Essays in Defense of Traditional Values
		"Beauty in Photography": 99
		"Making Art New": 129

Audrey Adu-Appiah
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 50

Adbusters (magazine): 4

Tariq Ali
	Speaking of Empire and Resistance
		"Palestine and Israel": 103

Saul Alinsky
	The Professional Radical: 64, 109

Hervey Allen: 115

Brian Andreas: 7, 43-47

	(Apache): 5
	(British government memo): 25
	Callahan's Quotes: 36-40 See Spider Robinson
	(Chinese proverb): 24
	(Japanese proverb): 25
	(Latin): 3, 5
	(lavatory sign, Rome): 25
	Proverbs for Daily Living: 145-147
	(unattributed): 23, 116

Isaac Asimov
	Foundation: 101
	Foundation's Edge: 111

Mary Austin
	The Land of Little Rain: 7

William E. Barrett
	The Lilies of the Fields: 139

James Barrie: 162

Roland Barthes
	Incidents: 88, 89, 130

	Narrow Road to the Deep North: 8

Jean Baudrillard
	Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?: 72

David Bayles
	Art and Fear: 115, 140, 165

Stafford Beer
	Designing Freedom: 81

Max Beerbohm: 22

Brendan Behan: 64, 69, 78, 84, 93, 109, 118, 135, 153

Rob Bell
	Sex God: 33

Walter Benjamin: 21, 112

John Berger
	Hold Everything Dear
		"Another Side of Desire": 35
		"Ten Dispatches About Endurance": 83, 105
	Here is Where We Meet
		"Genève": 118
		"Le Pont d'Arc": 129
		"Lisboa": 63
		"Madrid": 67
		"Some Fruit as Remembered by the Dead": 47
		"The Szum and the Ching": 2, 166
	Ways of Seeing: 111
	Why Look at Animals
		"The White Bird": 153
		"Why Look at Animals": 97

Jeffrey Bernard: 24

George Bernaros: 74

Wendell Berry
	The Way of Ignorance and Other Essays
		"The Way of Ignorance": 115, 136

Norman Bethune: 73

Ambrose Bierce: 116

Big Country (band): 6

Antay Bilgutay
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 50

Elizabeth Bishop
	"Questions of Travel": 58

Jessika Blanton
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 52

Hans Blix
	Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters: 32

Francesca Lia Block
	Missing Angel Juan: 93

Harold Bloom
	The Art of Reading Poetry: 28

Roberto Bolaño
	The Last Interview: 81, 101, 126

Margaret Bonnano: 116

Grady Booch: 64

Jorge Luis Borges
	"Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis, Tertius": 49
	The Unending Rose
		"The Suicide": 84
	Twenty Four Conversations with Borges: 35, 59, 69, 117, 133

Roo Borson
	Personal History: 3
		"Poetry as Knowing": 61, 69
		"The Road": 105, 153

George Bowering
	Horizontal Surfaces
		"Cascadia": 106
		"Lawrence": 132
		"Story": 143

Richard Brautigan
	The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings
		"The Unemployed Dreamers": 31
	The Tokyo-Montana Express: 30

Robert Bringhurst
	Everywhere Being is Dancing
		"Everywhere Being is Dancing": 106, 110
		"The Meaning of Mythology": 152
		"Singing with Frogs: The Theory and Practice of Literary Polyphony": 162
	The Solid Form of Language: 16
	The Tree of Meaning: 20
		"Poetry and Thinking": 134
		"The Persistence of Poetry and the Destruction of the World": 60
		"The Tree of Meaning": 154
		"The Vocation of Being, the Text of the Whole": 71, 97

Joseph Brodsky
	Watermark: 110, 114, 123, 132, 136, 143, 152, 162, 166

Stephen Brust
	Phoenix: 126

Fanny Burney
	Cecilia: 12

Jim Butcher
	Dead Beat: 118
	Death Masks: 75
	Grave Peril: 32, 33
	Proven Guilty: 66

John Cage: 4

Callahan (see Anonymous: Callahan's Quotes and Spider Robinson)

Mrs. Patrick Campbell: 12

Albert Camus
	"The Minotaur of The Stop in Oran": 29

Thomas Carlyle: 23

Sir Edward Carson: 15

Johnny Carson: 124

Charlie Chaplin: 165

G. K. Chesterton: 22

Winston Churchill: 22, 147

Cicero: 6

The Cluetrain Manifesto (see Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger): 20

Alex Comfort
	More Joy: A Lovemaking Companion to the Joy of Sex: 66

Bill Cosby: 140

Simon Critchley
	Continental Philosophy A Very Short Introduction: 100
	How to Stop Living and Start Worrying: 102, 143

Mahmoud Darweesh
	SAND and Other Poems
		"Words": 90

Robertson Davies: 6

Dizzy Dean: 5

Alain de Botton
	A Week at the Airport: 96, 148

Charles de Gaulle: 142

Duc de la Rochefoucauld: 113

Guy Debord: 4

Samuel Delaney
	The Einstein Intersection: 5

Francis DiClemente
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 52

Philip K. Dick: 91

Charles Dickens
	The Uncommercial Traveller
		"Night Walks": 166

Joan Didion
	Political Fictions: 18

Annie Dillard: 7
	For the Time Being: 8, 21, 57, 133

Milovan Djilas
	The Unperfect Society: 104

William O. Douglas: 14

Louis Dudek
	The First Person in Literature: 78

Lord Dunsany
	Tales of War
		"An Investigation into the Causes and Origins of the War": 19
		"The Moment": 56
	The Journey of the King: 98
	The Sword of Welleran
		"The Whirlpool": 69

Will Durant
	The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time
		"The Ten 'Peaks' of Human Progress": 48

Terry Eagleton
	After Theory: 17, 61, 76
	Holy Terror
		"Fear and Freedom": 138
		"Invitation to an Orgy": 156
		"Saints and Suicides": 138
		"Scapegoats": 142
		"States of Sublimity": 137
	Marx: 80, 104
	Reason, Faith and Revolution
		"The Scum of the Earth": 113
	The Gatekeeper: 11, 74, 78, 90, 101, 108, 125
	The Meaning of Life A Very Short Introduction: 30, 67, 85, 91, 131, 161
	The Task of the Critic
		"Death/Love": 139
		"Individual/Society": 151
		"New Left/Church": 95
		"Oxford/Dublin": 144

Marc Ecko
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 50

Albert Einstein: 133

Black Elk: 8

Abby Ellin
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 52

Alice Thomas Ellis: 22

Paul Eluard (translated by F. R. Scott): 86

Ralph Waldo Emerson
	"Self-Reliance": 31, 62-63, 98

Jason Epstein
	Book Business: 108, 148

Lord Falkland: 150

Laura Fausset
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 50

Minister Faust
	The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad: 18, 19, 20

Fjord Fellraps
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 50

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
	Back Road to Far Places: 66, 98
	Poetry as Insurgent Art: 2

Buckminster Fuller: 7

Neil Gaiman
	M is for Magic
		"Introduction": 61

John Kenneth Galbraith: 24

John Gay
	The Beggar's Opera: 2

Paul Geraldy: 144

David Gerrold: 40

John Gielgud: 23

Eric Gill
	An Essay on Typography: 35, 56, 67, 75

Jim Gladstone
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 51

Philip Glass: 6

Goethe: 25

Jean-Luc Godard: 8

Michel Gondry
	You'll Like This Film Because You're In It: The Be Kind Rewind Protocol: 68, 84, 109, 135

Paul Goodman
	The Moral Ambiguity of America: 127, 149-150, 159-160

Lady Granville: 22

John Gray
	Straw Dogs: 92

Horace Greeley: 15

Deborah Greene
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 50

Graham Greene: 11
	In Search of a Character: 34, 60, 76, 93, 117, 157

Ralph Gustafson
	Sift in an Hourglass
		"Fragment": 70
		"Vreta Kloster": 157

Dean Haspiel
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 52

Eric A. Havelock
	Harold A. Innis A Memoir: 107

Heraclitus: 22

Dave Hickey
	Air Guitar
		"The Delicacy of Rock-and-Roll": 114
		"Godiva Speaks": 152
		"The Little Church of Parry Mason": 136

Xaviera Hollander
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 51

Oliver Wendell Holmes
	Over the Teacups: 14

Harry Houdini
	On Deception
		"Miracle-Mongers and Their Methods": 130

Peter Hughes
	George Woodcock (New Canadian Library Authors Series): 86, 112, 141
	Spots of Time: 95

Nancy Huston
	Losing North: 17

Thomas Henry Huxley
	Administrative Nihilism: 12

J. K. Huysmans: 124

Jane Jacobs: 16

James Joyce
	Chamber Music
		"V": 128
		"The Dead": 65
	Finnegans Wake: 1
	Pomes Penyeach
		"A Flower Given to My Daughter": 114
	A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: 165
	Ulysses: 83

Franz Kafka
	The Zürau Aphorisms: 53-55

Garrison Keillor: 20

Yoshida Kenko
	Essays in Idleness: 14

Florynce Kennedy: 116

Jack Kerouac
	Book of Haikus: 119-123
	Trip Trap, Haiku on the Road: 48

Catherine Keyser, owner: Katy's Candy Store, Brooklyn: 162

Igby Kin
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 51

Ben Kingsley
	Sneakers (film): 4

Melissa Marlene Laurie
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 51

Ursula K. LeGuin
	Hard Words and Other Poems
		"Drums": 30
	Sixty Odd
		"Introduction": 134
		"Entanglements": 2
	Wild Oats and Fireweed
		"Spell": 31

Paul Levine
	Divisions: 94

John Lennon: 23

Robert Levenant
	Zen in the Art of Photography: 66, 78, 109

Rick Levine
	The Cluetrain Manifesto: 20

Christopher Locke
	The Cluetrain Manifesto: 20

Barry Lopez
	Field Notes: 21
	Light Action in the Caribbean
		"Emory Bear Hands' Birds": 57
	Resistance: 9, 10, 11

Pat Lowther
	A Stone Diary
		"Reflecting Sunglasses": 164

Georg Lukács
	Reviews and Articles
		"On Hauptmann's Development": 88

Groucho Marx: 124

Karl Marx
	Theses on Feuerbach: 99

Rollo May
	Existential Psychotherapy: Six Talks for CBC Radio: 153
		"Creativity and the Unconscious": 65
	The Courage to Create: 57

A. Hyatt Mayor: 118

Frank J. MacHovec
	OM A Guide to Meditation and Inner Tranquility: 92

Gordon MacKenzie
	Orbiting the Giant Hairball: 17

David McGoorty: 156

Josh McHugh
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 50

Marshall McLuhan
	The Book of Probes: 41-42

Somerset Maugham: 158

H. L. Mencken: 156

Maurice Merleau-Ponty: 110

Thomas Merton
	Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander: 19

J. S. Mill
	On Liberty: 12

Wilson Mizner: 116

Marc Mondfrans
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 51

H. H. Munro (see Saki)

David Nadelberg
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 50

Norton I: 14

Kakuzo Okakura
	The Book of Tea: 77

Michael Ondaatje
	The English Patient: 5
	"Translations of My Postcards": 7

Ted Orland
	Art and Fear: 115, 140, 165

George Orwell
	Books v. Cigarettes
		"Confessions of a Book Reviewer": 58
		"The Prevention of Literature": 113

Dorothy Parker: 25
	Enough Rope
		"Observation": 160
		"Wail": 158

Harley Parker: 5

Blaise Pascal: 154

Cybele Paschke
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 51

Kevin Passmore
	Fascism A Very Short Introduction: 102

Pablo Picasso: 87

Dr. Drew Pinsky
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 50

Eliot Porter
	Nature's Chaos: 29

Jacques Prévert
		"Song": 82
		"The Dunce": 107

Price Pritchett
	Hard Optimism: 15

Jacques Rancière
	Hatred of Democracy
		"The Rationality of Hatred": 64

John W. Raper: 142

Robert Redford
	Sneakers (film): 4

William Riker (character): 76

Rainer Maria Rilke
	Letters to a Young Poet: 58

Spider Robinson (see Anonymous: Callahan's Quotes)
	Time Travelers Strictly Cash
		"The Web of Sanity": 79

Todd Rockefeller: 24

Juan Antonio del Rosario
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 51

Bertrand Russell: 140

Wolfgang Sachs: 4

Albert Saijo
	Trip Trap, Haiku on the Road: 48

Saki: 140

George Santayana: 150

Doc Searls
	The Cluetrain Manifesto: 20

George Segal
	Art Out of Agony: 155

Wallace Shawn
		"Aesthetic Preferences": 124

Zenkei Shibayama (translator)
	The Gateless Gate: 27

Clifford D. Simak
	City: 82

Philip Slater
	Earthwalk: 151

Gary Snyder
	Turtle Island
		"Four Changes": 132, 152
		"Pine Tree Tops": 106

Susan Sontag
	Against Interpretation
		"Simone Weil": 73

Lisa Stanton
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 52

Freya Stark: 23, 24, 26

Daniel J. Stasiewski
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 51

Christine Stewart
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 52

Igor Stravinsky: 34
	Conversations with Igor Stravinsky: 94, 108, 148

Theodor Sturgeon: 39

Caroline Sun
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 52

Publilius Syrus: 132

Rabindranath Tagore
	Crescent Moon
		"Paper Boats": 89

Andrey Tarkovsky
	Instant Light: 17

Captain Philip Thicknesse
	Memoirs and Anecdotes: 13

Henry David Thoreau: 8

James Thurber: 116

Paul Tillich: 118

Lily Tomlin: 136

Trip Trap, Haiku on the Road. See Jack Kerouac, Albert Saijo, Lew Welch

Mark Twain: 23

Lao Tzu: 8

Paul Valéry: 71, 134

Paul Virilio
	The Futurism of the Instant: 149

	Alphabet of Wit: 68, 70

Kurt Vonnegut: 16
	A Man Without a Country: 49

Tom Waits: 6, 39

George Walker
	The Devil's Artisan (magazine): 32

Bronwen Wallace
	Keep That Candle Burning Bright and Other Poems: 6
	People You'd Trust Your Life To
		"If This is Love": 68
		"People You'd Trust Your Life To": 105

Simone Weil
	Letter to a Priest: 79, 87, 103, 144

David Weinberger
	The Cluetrain Manifesto: 20

Lew Welch
	Trip Trap, Haiku on the Road: 48

Mae West: 147

Elie Wiesel
	Art Out of Agony: 88
	The Accident: 78, 90, 111, 154

Oscar Wilde: 16, 74

Raymond Williams
	Orwell: 72

Doug Wilson (responding to Christopher Hitchens)
	Is Christianity Good for the World?: 63

Judge John Woolsey: 131

Jeff Wyonch: 4, 5, 163

John Webb Young
	A Technique for Producing Ideas: 26

Katherine Yunker
	Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: 51

Lin Yutang: 113

Roger Zelazny
	The Dead Man's Brother: 26, 55, 91
	This Immortal: 7

Howard Zinn
	Original Zinn: 110
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