Mnemotechnic devices and other tools

This is something I have been meaning to post about for a while. Having come across the term ‘mnemotechnic’ twice in one week, maybe now is the time. The first mention was in a passage by Derrida about writing as an aide-memoire, and as representing the passage of thought out of consciousness.

‘Writing, a mnemotechnic means, supplanting good memory, spontaneous memory, signifies forgetfulness … its violence befalls the soul as unconsciousness’ (Derrida, 1976: 37)

The second mention was … well, I can’t remember, though, by chance, I have just re-encountered it on a page left open in the Kindle app on my phone.

‘Long before the book, poetry was the brain’s first ‘external storage’, our first ‘mnemotechnology” (Paterson, 2018: 3).

And that’s the (pragmatic) point. In past academic work and study, I’ve relied on memory, and used writing principally to sketch out ideas and produce provisional and final texts as outcomes. Now, too frequently, I have the sense of having had an idea, or found something to which I might want to return at a later date, but no idea what. Entering a new field, and not having existing points of reference on which to secure my thoughts exacerbates the situation. So, suspending consideration of the inversion of speech and writing just for the moment (but noting the need to come back to it, of course), I’m going to map out my mnemotechnic tools and processes. And in doing so, assess the practicality and maybe even increase the prospect of sticking with them.

  • Sources found on the web, and iPhone photos of book covers and events, go into Evernote.
  • References, texts and reading lists go into Mendeley.
  • Notes are made in Simplenote, which is also used to draft CRJ and Canvas posts.
  • Resources are collected, clustered and classified in Devonthink.
  • Long documents, together with associated research and resources, are created in Scrivener.
  • My images are stored and processed in Lightroom with additional editing in Photoshop or Silver Efex Pro 2 as necessary.
  • Exported jpegs are filed in folders according to module (though should really move to using Devonthink).
  • Reflections, coursework, contextual research and project developments are posted in my CRJ according to module (WordPress).
  • Portfolios are created in Scribus and exported as PDFs.
  • Presentations are created in Keynote, exported as movies and converted to QT format in Quicktime.

That’s about it. Part memory supplement, part workflow. All these applications run on all my devices and are synchronised, so everything is available everywhere. In the remaining weeks of this module I will formalise my use of social media and develop a website – the outputs.

Derrida, J. (1976). Of Grammatology (trans. G.Spivak). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University.

Paterson, D. (2018). The Poem: Lyric, Sign, Metre. London: Faber.