So I have an idea for a project. The idea is to document the core concepts taught in the major classical works. Phase two would be to build some sort of concept-normalized mindmap. Here’s the impetus:
When I read my favorite authors I am constantly struck by references–too many of which I don’t have a strong command of. So my goal here is to continue reading voraciously and to document every single reference I come across. Then I’ll take those references, find the original work, and create this type of summary for it.
The first task of the effort will be to come up with a format for the summaries, which I want to be extremely clean, i.e. brief. I’m thinking perhaps:
- Author name (with Wikipedia link)
- Date of publish
- A 1-3 sentence summary of the work
- 1-10 bullets of key concepts and pioneering words or phrases
[ Many of the summary sentences will probably come out of Wikipedia, as they have high shoulders. ]
Author: George Orwell
Nineteen Eighty-Four (sometimes written 1984), by George Orwell, published in 1949, is a dystopian novel about the totalitarian regime of the Party, an oligarchical collectivist society where life in the Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, pervasive government surveillance, public mind control, and the voiding of citizens’ rights.
- Big brother looks attractive and ends up being evil
- Watch for political talk that promotes pervasive surveillance
- Newspeak is a fictional language in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four that is almost purely propaganda. It is described in the novel as being “the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year”.
- Be extremely weary of giving power to someone who says they’re protecting you.
This is, of course, an obscenely simplistic summary. But I think capturing the major works in this way might still be of use to many–not the least of which is me. It doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t read the works themselves, as many are classics for the beauty in which the concepts are presented in addition to the concepts themselves, but I believe there is value in distilling the wisdom as well.