Monday, February 12, 2018

Luhmann's Alternative to the Zettelkasten

I recently bought to volumes of late Luhmann interviews, namely Niklas Luhmann, Archimedes und wir (Berlin: Merve Verlag, 1987) and Wolfgang Hagen, ed. Warum haben Sie keinen Fernseher, Herr Lumann? Letzte Gespr├Ąche mit Niklas Luhmann (Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos, 2004). In the latter volume, in the interview with Wolfgang Hagen, entitled "Die Ralit├Ąt der Massenmedien" (pp. 79-107), Luhmann reveals that he has an alternative to the Zettelkasten. Hagen notess: "[The Zettelkasten] is, so to speak, the basis of your work. If it were taken from you, then it [your work, that is] would be difficult. Luhmann answers:
Yes, it would be difficult. But I now have an alternative, namely half-finished book manuscripts which are found in boxes under the desk, and then I can of course ... When I discover something somehow interesting for "sovereignty," I can write it directly into the manuscript where "state" and "soverignty" is discusse.
It is interesting to ask how different this alternative really is, since you could also look at the Zettelkasten as a collection consisting of manuscripts that are in varying degrees unfinished.

Luhmann would not be the only one with such Zettelmanuskripts. Nabokov and Arno Scmidt used such a method as well.

In this incarnation, Luhmann technique is perhaps closer to working with Scrivener or Ulysses.

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