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The Waste Books by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg ...

Mar 16, 2013
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The Waste Books by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Mentioned in Elizabeth Spiers’ great piece, “On Keeping a Notebook in the Digital Age”:


  Lichtenberg was an eighteenth century German physicist whose scientific accomplishments have become somewhat overshadowed by the popularity of notes he took on English transactional ledgers (informally called “waste books”) that were later published by his sons. His waste books are a collection of short personal reflections and quotations covering a wide range of topics and infused with wit. He is the master of the aphorism (“We have the often thoughtless respect accorded ancient laws, ancient usages and ancient religion to thank for all the evil in the world”) but peppers the notebooks with whimsical observations (“They sneezed, wheezed, coughed and made two other kinds of sound for which we have no words in German”). They are idea rich, and not always rich with good ideas. And I like to imagine they probably went a long way in shaping the rest of his professional life.


My favorite example of a Lichtenberg aphorism: “You can make a good living from soothsaying but not from truthsaying.”

cf. Tommy Howells and Kafka’s aphorisms

Filed under: notebooks

The Waste Books by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Mentioned in Elizabeth Spiers’ great piece, “On Keeping a Notebook in the Digital Age”:

Lichtenberg was an eighteenth century German physicist whose scientific accomplishments have become somewhat overshadowed by the popularity of notes he took on English transactional ledgers (informally called “waste books”) that were later published by his sons. His waste books are a collection of short personal reflections and quotations covering a wide range of topics and infused with wit. He is the master of the aphorism (“We have the often thoughtless respect accorded ancient laws, ancient usages and ancient religion to thank for all the evil in the world”) but peppers the notebooks with whimsical observations (“They sneezed, wheezed, coughed and made two other kinds of sound for which we have no words in German”). They are idea rich, and not always rich with good ideas. And I like to imagine they probably went a long way in shaping the rest of his professional life.

My favorite example of a Lichtenberg aphorism: “You can make a good living from soothsaying but not from truthsaying.”

cf. Tommy Howells and Kafka’s aphorisms

Filed under: notebooks

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    Seeing a lot about keeping paper notebooks lately. Write it down, snap a picture of it w/your smartphone, save into...
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