Friday, January 4, 2013

Carlyle on Tools

Thomas Carlyle wrote: "Man is a Tool-using Animal; weak in himself, and of small stature, he stands on a basis, at most for the flattest-soled, of some half-square foot, insecurely enough; has to straddle out his legs, lest the very wind supplant him. Feeblest of bipeds! Three quintals are a crushing load to him; the steer of the meadow tosses him aloft, like a waste rag. Nevertheless he can use tools, can devise tools; with these the granite mountain melts into light dust before him; he kneads glowing iron, as if it were soft paste; seas are his smooth highway, winds and fire his unwearying steeds. Nowhere do you find him without tools; without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all."

This holds for note-taking as well—or so I believe. In this spirit, we start another year.{1]

Oh, and another one my father used to impress on me (in German, of course): "It's a poor workman who blames his tools." Indeed, any true artisan takes pride in the tools she/he uses. This does not, of course, mean that you look for the best possible too for the job. That's why you hear perhaps disproportionally much about ConnectedText here.


1. This thought is not original with Carlyle. See Bacon on Instruments of the Mind.

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