EMAIL NUMBER 36
The Secret Book Luhmann Read That Taught Him Zettelkasten (Plus, Calling All German Speakers)
Scott P. Scheper
Downtown San Diego, CA
Thursday 2:13 p.m.
If you're new to my email list, or even if you've been here for a while, there's something you should know.
It is this: my emails are like the show Seinfeld.
Yes, my emails are like Seinfeld in that, they're about nothing.
And in that vein, they're about everything.
You see, I write my emails in a manner in which I oftentimes share inane, silly details about everyday matters of my life.
I then, somehow, someway relate those inane stories back into stuff that is more relevant to you: things like Zettelkasten, knowledge development, reading, writing, growing an online following, and building the neo-intellectual life.
In recent weeks, I've talked about random events. From backing my Tesla into a barrier at my office (thus smashing its back window), to my chaotic adventures moving, and how my freaking cat got impregnated, and how I had to get an emergency kitty abortion.
Yet, during all of these stories I've somehow, someway related them back to topics you'd find more interesting: like how my Antinet Zettelkasten book is coming along, and how my Neo-Intellectual Institute is shaping up.
I'll share with you updates on both of those things in just a moment.
Holy Shit. I Need to Share Something with You Right Now!
I just got off the phone with Clemens Luhmann.
Clemens is the youngest child of Niklas Luhmann, the man who created the Zettelkasten, and the man who Johannes Schmidt calls, "the most important sociologist of the 20th century."
Anyway, I just spoke with Clemens for almost an hour by phone. This was my second conversation with him. My first conversation took place in late April, and I unearthed a good amount of content from that interview about the Zettelkasten. The material from that conversation has made its way into my forthcoming book, Antinet Zettelkasten. The material that will be shared contains never-before-heard details. There are some very fascinating pieces of material about the origins of Zettelkasten in there. This material is known only to two people: Clemens Luhmann, and yours truly, Mr. Scott P. Scheper. Even the fantastic research and work done by the University of Bielefeld's Johannes Schmidt has not unearthed the material I'm about to unleash on the world.
(I hope you're not tired of my sensationalism yet. I'm about to hype things up even more).
Clemens and I have kept in touch since our first conversation in late April. What Clemens has just shared with me during today's call is mind-blowing-af (if, that is, you're curious about where Niklas Luhmann first learned his Zettelkasten from).
You see, Niklas Luhmann's best friend was a man named Friedrich Rudolf Hohl.
Hohl and Luhmann were so close that they were referred to as brüder, which is the German word for "brothers."
In fact, Luhmann's nickname for Hohl was bruder ("brother" singular).
Well, right around 1951, the year in which Niklas Luhmann created his (now famous) Zettelkasten, Hohl picked up the fourth edition of a book that was published in 1932. In this book, in explicit detail, are instructions that teach academics and researchers how to build their own Zettelkasten (aka, their own notebox system).
It lays out, in explicit detail, how to create your own notecards (4x6" or A6-sized cards). But more importantly, it teaches the concept of using card addresses for your notecards.
It also teaches classification systems and many other details involved in creating a Zettelkasten.
In brief, this secret book is the original source of where Luhmann learned the Zettelkasten. It directly inspired his own Zettelkasten system that Luhmann created in or around 1951.
Now, I know this isn't that groundbreaking if you're someone who's only interested in becoming a learning machine, research machine, or writing machine.
However, this finding is still pretty fricken' cool.
What's even cooler is that this information has never been shared with the world before.
The only two people on earth who know about this secret book are Clemens Luhmann (who now possesses the book), and yours truly.
Now, thanks to Clemens, in my possession is a digital PDF copy of the book's chapter pertaining to Zettelkasten. This book was originally Friedrich Rudolf Hohl's own personal copy. In fact it has "Hohl" written on the internal title page of the book (Hohl was Luhmann's best friend and doppelgänger).
In summary, I have the digitized chapter of the book which taught the Zettelkasten system to Luhmann in 1951 (by way of his best friend Friedrich Rudolf Hohl)
There's only one problem.
And that is this:
I Cannot Read One Word of German.
Which is why…
I am emailing you, and calling upon any of those on my email list who speak German.
What I have is a PDF of a 34-page chapter from a book written in 1932. The chapter outlines how one can build their own Zettelkasten. This chapter is what Niklas Luhmann likely read in or around 1951 when he was creating his own Zettelkasten. The chapter is titled Die Kartei (which in English means "The Card Index"). The name of the book is something I will keep secret (for now).
If you can read German, and if you have the time to translate every word, and if you're crazy (like me), and you wish to learn the origins of how Niklas Luhmann learned his own Zettelkasten system, then please reply to this email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and volunteer your translation services.
I would like to have the translation done by September 2nd. So if you can commit to this timeline, then please reply. I (and other Antinetters) will be forever grateful.
I will be using the learnings from this translation to share where Luhmann's Zettelkasten actually came from.
As payment for your services, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you're the third person on earth to read the material which directly inspired Luhmann's own Zettelkasten (and know about it).
OK, now with that out of the way, I'd like to provide two more updates:
First and foremost, my Antinet Zettelkasten book is pretty much done!
I say pretty much done because I'll likely be adding this new discovery to the book. And also, I still need to get the book designed and printed, etc.
That said, it's all copyedited, and it's ready to make its way out into the world.
Thank you to everyone who's been a part of this journey. We're almost there!
The second update I have for you is this: The Neo-Intellectual Institute class has officially filled up!
In case you're not aware, I launched an intense 1-on-1 program recently called the Neo-Intellectual Institute ([https://neo-intellectual.scottscheper.com/]). It's a three month program wherein I work with a small group of individuals to transform them into reading, writing, research machines (using an Antinet Zettelkasten). On top of this, I also work concurrently on helping them build out their own community (aka, their own tribe of people). That way, they have an audience of like-minded people whom they can publish their work to, and craft other offers for (thereby making a comfortable living doing what they love).
This lifestyle—wherein you spend your days reading, thinking, and writing is something I call the neo-intellectual life. The goal is to help my people build the foundation for such a life in three months.
Anyway, I have successfully filled up this first class with a group of badasses who are committed to growth, learning, and taking the unconventional route in life.
Thank you to all of those who applied to the program. I was only able to reach out to a small number of folks who applied, and I look forward to expanding the class in the future. Until then, wish me and the other Neo-Intellectuals luck over the next three months. I hope to share with you more about this special group and this fricken crazy (and awesome) journey we're on.
Anyway, before I close things out, I wanted to say this when I first started writing this email:
I write these emails like they're a Seinfeld episode. They're usually about nothing. I write off the top of my head, and I share with you my honest-to-God thoughts.
I share with you the truth of everything I'm thinking.
The way I write these emails is not the way in which I wrote my book (thank God).
These emails are more "stream-of-consciousness."
And with that said, I hope you appreciate them, and my style.
I wanted to say this because, personally, I'm sick of all those email newsletters that share canned list bullshit. Thing's like "Friday's Five Quick Tips," or "Monday Musings," or "Seven History Lesson Thursdays."
Those types of emails contain low-processed filth and distractions. They're littered with Emoji's, and tweets, and other garbage of little value.
But Even Worse: They're Littered With ZERO AUTHENTICITY!
If you're with me on this shoot me a quick reply and say, "Hell yes, I'm with you."
Anyway, enough ranting for now.
All I was getting at is that… I look forward to writing to you every week (on Thursdays). And I look forward to continuing to share my journeys in writing, copywriting, and launching stuff for badass people like you (aka, people committed to growth and learning).
I hope you've been enjoying these emails, and I look forward to sharing more with you soon.
The book is almost here!
It is sitting at 552 pages. It talks about everything you'll ever need to know about Zettelkasten (the true version, the Antinet Zettelkasten). It talks about everything from writing, to thinking, to human memory, to Niklas Luhmann, and beyond.
If nothing else, I can attest that the Antinet Zettelkasten certainly does one thing… it turns you into a writing machine.
That's all for now.
I have spoken.
And stay crispy, my friend.
Scott P. Scheper
The Analog Knowledge Revolutionary
P.S. Our Antinet Zettelkasten Reddit community is growing! There are some fantastic topics and discussions going on over there. If you haven't been there in a while, head over to the Antinet Zettelkasten Reddit and post about your Antinet journey: [https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/]
P.P.S. Viva la Analog Knowledge Revolución!
P.P.P.S. Ten points to anyone who catches The Mandalorian reference at the end of this email.
Thursday 3:31 p.m.