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Hypomnemata is a neat Greek word. It literally means something like "under memory" or "below mind". Pierre Hadot in The Inner Citadel (Chapter 2, "A First Glimpse of the Meditations") interprets Marcus Aurelius's book as hypomnemata: personal notes, reflections, or note-cards --- messages that the Emperor addressed to himself, as a kind of "memory support".

Alas, to a low-minded creature such as Yours Truly, a crude pun on the first word of "memory support" brings up utterly inappropriate images of unmentionable undergarments. Silly, I must confess --- but not a wholly irrelevant metaphor. Writing notes to oneself is a splendid way to lift and separate recollections from their unenhanced state. Personal memoranda, carefully composed, can shape thoughts to make them stand out dramatically. Artificial, arguably unnatural ... but to make a clean breast of it, as with physical body-building the results can be quite striking.

And as Hadot himself (or his translator, Michael Chase) so aptly puts it, hypomnemata help a person both form and inform the mind --- two noble goals for an examined life.

(see also DearDiary (19 Mar 2001), ZhurnalAnniversary2 (4 Apr 2001), SelfImprovement (29 Aug 2002), InsideTheInnerCitadel (15 Oct 2002), ...)

TopicJournalizing - TopicWriting - Datetag20021031

(correlates: CrackCreme, LessonsOfTheMarathon, LyricNotes, ...)