Zettelkasten Forum

Greetings to All

Hi Everybody,

What an exciting thing going on here. First off, thanks to Christian and Sasha for all they have done to bring such a unique thing into the world. It's been ground breaking for me so far.

About me: I'm a Phd candidate in an aesthetic philosophy and art theory program. I've always been a writer, note taker, and voracious learner but always felt my inability to order, connect, and remember my notes and ideas was limited by my inability to come up with a consistent and effective system for doing so. This has been especially true for the past couple years, as I've been devouring philosophy texts, writing copious amounts of notes and marginalia (all by hand as the speed my hand writes seems to be the speed at which my thought wishes to express itself at first). Cut to before finding Luhmann's writings and the slip box note-taking system: piles and piles of notes, mind maps, marginalia, and post-its either in random boxes or all over my desk. Needless to say, I needed a better way of maximizing the effort I was putting into note taking, which has always been the lion's share of my effort when drafting any bit of writing. Enter Zettelkasten and The Archive.

After lots of searching I discovered the concept of a zettelkasten system. This was while searching for a better academic workflow and was immediately hooked on it. Not just for its function but I believe the philosophy and principles grounding the system to be radical and transformative. I read everything I could find, from Luhmann's texts that had been translated into english, the Ahrens book, and countless internet searches.

The thing that was so exciting to me about the Zk note taking system and philosophy, beside the obvious, was that I realized I was already kind of working in exactly the same way but in notebooks and note cards and pieces of paper, but without giving my notes any ordering structure at all. This led to one of the scenarios Ahrens mentions in his book: piles of notes everywhere and unprocessed marginalia in references. Long story short, once I learned about the ordering structure of a Zk and the principles behind it, ie. link, connections, tags, etc., it actually mapped onto my way of doing things already in an intuitive way. My brain actually seemed to tend toward connection-making in a manner akin to Zk but just didn't have the tools to really realize and take advantage of these instinctual tendencies.

My goals with the Zk are to create a life long archive, to use for academic work in philosophy, as well as with writing general essays and prose. Mostly, beyond the merely useful reasons for keeping a zk for more efficient organization and output of ideas, I'm looking to create a dedicated partner in communication, as Luhmann puts it; one who will consistently be in conversation with me re: emergent ideas and questions I never would be able to discover otherwise. In other words, my goal is to create a life-long learning experience with my digital slip-box.

I honestly believe the greater the number people that learn to do thinking, reading, writing, and learning in this way, the greater the frequency of new ideas and connections between them we'd have emerging into the world. So far for myself anyway, its been life-changing.

Thanks and I look forward to learning more about everyone and how they are using a slip box in their lives as The Archive, its creators and its users continue to create something special on here.


  • Hei,

    Please tell more about your thesis in aesthetic philosophy :)

  • Hi @johnny, thanks for asking.

    As of now I'm still on my third and final year of coursework and haven't yet proposed a dissertation thesis. That said, currently I'm following a question which emerged out of a reading of Heidegger's text on Nietzsche regarding the role of practices of piety, for example genuine questioning, in relation to preparing and cultivating authentically creative acts and events. (Piety in an ancient greek sense of awe and reverence, and not a modern religious sense). This would allow for a critique of the realms of contemporary art and academic philosophy and their pretensions to certainty, allow for an exploration of ways in which to cultivate our ancient but forgotten sense of wonderment in life and aesthetic activity, and reorient ourselves with ways in which to bring rad things or happenings into the world, rather than precious or use driven products.

    Again, thats not my thesis, just something I'm mulling over right now after reading H's text on N.

  • That sounds very interesting.
    "Forgotten sense of wonderment"...This sounds very Heideggerian:)

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