I’m starting a category for “Commonplaces,” so that I can store and share online the snips that I want to store someplace retrievable — and to begin the category, I want to quote from the FAQ of Tom Matrullo’s late lamented “Commonplaces” blog:
A common-place book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that “great wits have short memories;” and whereas, on the other hand, poets being liars by profession, ought to have good memories.
   ~ Jonathan Swift, A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet.
In ancient rhetoric, commonplace is koinos topos – “a composition which amplifies inherent evils.” It often fit into the curriculum as a preparatory exercise for either encomium or vituperation. Which is not altogether unrelated to what seems to be going on here.
   Tom Matrullo,

2 thoughts on “Commonplaces

  1. I still have my commonplace book. I started at the, ah, “suggestion” of a professor of early church a number of years ago. I wish I had added more to it between that class and graduation when I was reading a lot more than I read now, but it still has some wonderful quotes that I am glad I haven’t lost. And yes, I still add to it today.

    A little something from said book for the House of Bishops meeting with a prayer that this month’s work may be more productive than the synods it refers to from ages past:

    “I am determined to avoid every assembly of bishops. I have never seen a single instance in which a synod did any good. Strife and ambition dominate them to an incredible degree. From councils and synods I will keep myself at a distance, for I have experienced that most of them, to speak with moderation, are not worth much. I will not sit in the seat of synods, while geese and cranes confusedly wrangle.” (Gregory Nanzianzen)

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