Sometime in 2019, I came across ‘a commonplace book’. It wasn’t a specific book but rather an expression for a type of book. I had been thinking about creating a blog and was looking for a ‘handle’ on it, a name for the blog, a concept that might help me form a basis to start a blog. Working titles popped up and one of them ‘justanotherblog’ became ‘yesanotherblog’ – which I launched in March 2020.
As a somewhat obsessive type, a collector and writer of lists, I accumulated other possible blog titles and one or two of them refused to go away. I had the idea of ‘a scrap blog’, recalling my childhood years and scrapbooks – home for a miscellany of items. As I did a spot of research I stumbled across ‘a commonplace book’ – and became quite excited. The idea of a book being home for a disparate range of information (quotations, notes, sketches, reflections, recipes, lists, etc) reminded me of an encyclopedia. I remembered the boxed set of encyclopedias I got for Christmas when I was 8. Commonplace books go back to antiquity and gathered pace in the Age of Enlightenment, the printing press also accelerated their growth. By the 18th century, it was a widely used form of gathering knowledge and ideas – and was even a required element in University studies at Oxford and Harvard. The philosopher John Locke wrote an entire book called ‘Method for Common-Place Books (1685).
This is where the blog you are now, comes from. But rather than a book, it’s a blog: A Commonplace Blog.
It will be home to blog posts (short notes and small essays), quotations, aphorisms, sketches, photographs, pictures, sound clips, video links, excerpts from books, a miscellany of impressions and expressions, recipes, conversations, and monologues. Eventually, there will be guest bloggers and a podcast.
It will also be home to collaborative online projects. I created one (53 Fragments) in 2014 and last year I started to think about the next project. As the Corona-virus and pandemic gathered scale and momentum, I started to think about a project that would be a response to this.
At the end of 2019 I decided to reach out to artists, writers, musicians, and friends – with the goal of bringing together a group of people who would share their response to the pandemic – through essays, poetry, pictures, photography, painting, drawing, music and film/video.