This blog started as a place to collect favorite passages (and sometimes images), saving them in a place where I can search for them again and also offering them to others. I organize these under three categories that you can read about here. More recently, I have also decided to start posting some writings of my own under a separate category. (These musings of my own are typically in response to my readings and are just “seed ideas” for possible future consideration and development.)
As a collection of favorite passages, this blog functions as a kind of commonplace book for me. Long histories of such collections—know as anthologia (“a garland”), florilegium (“a gathering of flowers”), silva rerum (“a forest of things”), and commonplace books—stretch back in time and inspire me. Although I have found my blogging practice to be helpful, only tenuous connections exist between a blog such as this and the many tangible practices connected to commonplace books.
Desiderius Erasmus inspired the name for my blog. He appreciated the compiling of commonplace books (essential to his rhetorical theories in Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style) and described this habit when writing about the daughters of his good friend Thomas More:
As they flit like so many little bees between Greek and Latin authors of every species, here noting down something to imitate, here culling some notable saying to put into practice in their behavior, there getting by heart some witty anecdote to relate among their friends, you would swear you were watching the Muses at graceful play in the lovely pastures of Mount Helicon, gathering flowers and marjoram to make well-woven garlands.
Flowers are a glorious image of abundance:
Yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. (Matthew 6.29)
Authors past and present, labored long to plant these fields and gardens in which we may wander freely, and I offer my small thanks to them (and to the Author of us all).