What are Hypomnemata?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 February 2020
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Sometimes spelled hupomnemata, hypomnemata has to do with the creation of a mode of preserving the memory of things that were read, thought, or heard over a period of time. One of the more common examples of hypomnemata is the time-honored tradition of keeping a memory book. However, there are several other methods of keeping records that qualify as hypomnemata. Here are some examples.

Memory books are one form of hypomnemata that is usually concerned with some sort of central subject. In times past, people chose to engage is this form of hypomnemata as a means of creating works that had to do with home health remedies, family recipes, and personal histories. The memory book, or hypomnema (singular) was and is an excellent means of preserving information about the backgrounds, travels, resources, and thought processes of one generation so that later generations can benefit from that bank of wisdom.

Personal notebooks are another example of hypomnemata. Journals and reminder or scheduling books fall into this category, as they are used to keep up with daily thoughts and also provide helpful information about the activities of the individual. In many cases, personal notebooks also serve as a creative outlet for artists such as writers and composers. Many a popular novel or an enchanting tune began with a few scribble notations in a personal notebook.


In fact, notebooks that have some sort of ongoing purpose all qualify as hypomnemata. In times past, this typically referred to a physical notebook that contained blank pages. Today, this also includes electronic records as well. For example, prior to the personal computer age, an author would often create an outline for a novel, along with some random notes on chapter titles, characters, general plot and action strategies, and thoughts on the resolution of the action. Today, all this may be accomplished with the use of writing software that in effect creates a notebook that is relevant to a particular writing project. Just as with the traditional pen and paper variety, electronic forms of hypomnemata are considered to be works in progress. That is, the content of the notebook can and often is added to over an extended period of time.

Hypomnemata is found all around us. People from all walks of life engage in the creation of some sort of personal records with an eye toward creating a resource for their own use, and the use of loved ones now and in the future. While few people think of scrapbooking, memory books, or personal and professional notebooks in terms of such an impressive sounding title, all of these information mediums serve to remind us that hypomnemata is still an important part of how human beings assemble and preserve information.


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