Historian, Robert Darnton has written the following to describe the tangled mix of writing and reading habit of the early modern Englishman:
"Unlike modern readers, who follow the flow of a narrative from beginning to end, early modern Englishmen read in fits and starts and jumped from book to book. They broke texts into fragments and assembled them into new patterns by transcribing them in different sections of their notebooks. Then they reread the copies and rearranged the patterns while adding more excerpts. Reading and writing were thereafore inseparable of things. They belonged to a continuous effort to make sense of things, for the world was full of signs that you could read your way through and by keeping an account of your readings, you made a book of your own. One stamped with your personality."
An epiphany moment hit me as I read Darnton's account as I too have been doing that for decades. To-date, I have a number of notebooks which were filled with notes of books I have read. Unlike the early modern Englishman, I am luckier. With the advent of technology, today, I also have word documents of my readings, my thoughts as well as a blog which shares the new knowledge which I have gleaned.
When I have the luxury of time, I love to reread my writings. Each rereading brings a new revelation. Each encounter holds the promise of that some long forgotten hunch that will connect in a new way with some emerging obsession. This is akin to some evolutionary path of one's past hunches.
My dear readers, I encourage you to also read, think, write and think again.