About the Blog
This site takes its cue from an essay by Alan Jacobs, “A Commonplace Book,” in which Jacobs parallels the evolution of early modern commonplace books to the rise of blogs. Early modern readers began to find themselves overwhelmed by the volume of reading material suddenly made available by the advent of cheap paper:
… in the sixteenth century, the relatively wealthy and those who lived in large cities found themselves with access to more books than they could read, or at any rate read with care. Thus the need to select the best and wisest passages from those books—passages that were commonplace in an etymological sense, from locus communis, the “communal place,” the thing of general use and value—in short, the kind of writing that you expect will repay repeated consideration.
A commonplace book would be “a means of mastering or at least fighting off this multitude of books,” and it is not too hard to guess where Jacobs goes with this. The flood of information generated on the Internet each day threatens to overwhelms us; a blog, like the commonplace book, can be a tool for managing the flow, a place to make note of the “things of general use and value.” What you have stumbled on, then, is my digital commonplace book.
But it is a bit more than that, too. It’s also a place to try out ideas and think through issues by writing about them. Few things clarify as relentlessly as the effort required to put thoughts into words.
The name of this blog, by the way, comes from one of Blaise Pascal’s Pensées: “Between us and heaven or hell there is only life, which is the frailest thing in the world.”
About the Author
Currently, I’m [no longer] working through a PhD program titled “Texts and Technology,” so much of what will pass through these pages will relate in some way or another to the interaction between technology and culture. My aim in thinking and writing about technology is, so far as it is possible, to achieve the critical distance necessary to make wise and humane use of technology. I would add that neither unbridled optimism nor thoughtless pessimism regarding technology fosters the sort of critical distance required to live wisely with technology.
Email: lmsacasas at gmail dot com