Tag Archives: commonplacebook

Superfreakonomics notes

A while ago I bought Levitt & Dubner’s Superfreakonomics – I think in Maastricht’s Dominicanen bookstore (a must-visit if you like bookstores) and I finally got around to reading it last month because I wanted a change after re-reading the massive and epic War and Peace. It is thoroughly entertaining, and very informative at times. I have included some quotes below that have gone straight to my digital commonplace book.

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On minimalism and clutter

These days a lot is being written about the notion of minimalism, living in a space without too much personal belongings or clutter. Whilst I understand the philosophy behind it – cleanliness is supposed to be a sign of a sound mind – I own too much kitchen stuff alone because cooking and producing good food relaxes me and makes me happy. For a while now, I have been considering doing the ‘Throw 100 items away’ challenge and it will probably happen when I move later this month. That being said, I may just be one of those people for whom minimalism will never work.

As a student, I work, sleep and eat in the same room. At the same time, I’m also one of those people that focus on one task and manage to completely disregard whatever state the surroundings are in, as opposed to some of my friends, who always clean before working. In busy times, this often leads to a messy living space. Perhaps this will change when my work area will be separated from my living area. However, part of me will always tend to agree with Anne Lamott when it comes to minimalism and clutter:

Clutter and mess shows us that life is being lived… Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation… Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children is that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.

Commonplace book

The first time I heard of the notion ‘commonplace book’ was in my rhetoric and argumentation class in my second semester of undergrad. For a while I kept it neatly going, amassing my favourite quotes in a nice overview. When I look back at them now, I smile, because they are still relevant to me today. That is what I think the true purpose of a commonplace book is: not just to amass everything neatly in one big overview as a stock for debates, but also to teach oneself about life, purpose and content. Unfortunately, over the years the Moleskine I used to house the commonplace book has housed lecture notes, ideas for papers, to-do lists, an interview with a Barcelona representative of UCLG, an overview for my French exam, my mother’s account of our 2013 Andalusian holiday, a list of what my potential partner should be like (yes, really, I think I jotted it down because some ThoughtCatalog article suggested I meet that person not too long after that – ironic how stupid things like this actually seem to work out) and a thesis overview. In short, it is a microcosm of my life the past few years. The last thing written in it was a quote again:

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