Sunday, May 25, 2014

Zettelkasten and Bricolage

According to Levi-Strauss, bricolage consists of of research or thinking that is not looking for something that would go beyond the data collected and the concepts inherited from a tradition which may be "more or less coherent or ruined." There can be no doubt that a method like Luhmann's slip box may lend itself to this kind of approach—especially when it is combined with something that I discussed earlier under the title of "fieldstone method" and "flat outlines. Writing has to be more than collecting and re-arranging, if it is to be thinking on paper. To be sure, interesting thought links up with things that have already been thought, but originality or novelty does not consist in linking or connecting things that are found. It is concerned—at least in part—with answering questions, as Collingwood well realized. These questions need not be new, though some of the most interesting ones are.

In the same way, flat outlines in writing might be the beginning, but it would be a mistake to think that they are the only useful way to outline, as some instructors seem to think. There is more to thinking and writing than mere bricolage.

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