If you link your notes as you save them, Crusoe will allow you to recall long forgotten book passages as if you just read them yesterday.

Llewellyn Moss

The following story is for people that are just getting started with Crusoe and aren’t clear why they would want to link their Evernote notes.  The promise of Crusoe is perfect recall of anything you read, but it might not be readily apparent how linking your notes gives you perfect recall.  So I thought I would share a quick story from last night of Crusoe doing it’s thing.

I am not an English professor, and I don’t have meaningful insights to share about Cormac McCarthy and William Shakespeare.  My point is that there is no way in hell I could have possibly remembered and put together what follows together had it not been for Crusoe.  Anyway, here is what happened…

Last night I was out with friends, and one of the guys at the table was reading Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, which I had read about eight years ago.  He loved the book but he had a common reaction to it saying he couldn’t put his finger on what it’s about.  It’s a great book, but it is not an easily distilled book (one of the things that makes it so engaging).

As he discussed the main character, Llewelyn Moss, I brought up Crusoe to see if I had created any Crusoe links to the novel.  I had. I had a note on the character Llewelyn Moss linked to one other note about Macbeth (and then this morning created another link to a character in a Flannery O’Connor novel).

Llewelyn screenshot

I had written a very short note stating that everything goes bad for Llewelyn the moment he tries to do the right thing.  He decides to return to the scene of a crime to give a dying drug trafficker, whom he doesn’t know, a drink of water.  Llewelyn knows that if he just forgets about the mobster he’ll walk away scot-free and a multi-millionaire.  Llewelyn also knows that if he goes back to give this guy (who is likely already dead) a drink of water he may very well get himself shot.  But Llewelyn realizes he can’t go through life having denied a dying man a drink of water.

macbethThat part of the story came to mind while I was reading the introductory remarks to Macbeth appearing in my old college copy of The Riverside Shakespeare (I took a picture of that page and saved them into Evernote).  The writer, Frank Kermode, said that the “eternal jewel” of man is his capacity to resist the temptation of his own evil desires.  Well, Llewelyn’s evil desires were to deny a dying man a drink of water so that Llewelyn could walk away a millionaire, no strings attached.   Macbeth, on the other hand, did not resist those evil desires.  The link between Llewelyn and Macbeth just came to me in an instant and I’m sure I would have forgotten it an instant later, but I linked the two quotes in Crusoe instead.  And now, whenever I look up Llewelyn or Macbeth, the connection will come back to me. Kermode also wrote that the famous incantation of the The Weird Sisters (the witches), “Fair is foul and foul is fair hover through the fog and filthy air” is meant to spread confusion about right and wrong in Macbeth’s mind.  

I noted in my annotation linking the two notes that while Llewelyn is no saint he, unlike Macbeth, has no such confusion between right and wrong in his mind.  And he did not give into his own desires to just take the money and run, the way Macbeth did.  It was a fun discussion, and my friends were impressed with my abilities to summon relevant quotes from Shakespeare, Frank Kermode, and Allan Bloom…

closing_american_mind-e9798cca0182e8bbe73e968667f8437aI also had a link connecting the “Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair” quote to the first page of Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind where Bloom says that one thing a professor these days can be certain of: “almost every student entering university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” The temptation to equivocate on the nature of truth is exactly what Frank Kermode is writing about in the passage I quoted above!

Okay, so as I said, no great insights here about literature, but it all made for a good discussion. 

But my main point is that I was able to summon specific and relevant passages from a few books that were perfectly germane to our discussion, and there is just simply no way in hell I could summon that level of recall of what I’ve read and how it all ties together without Crusoe to walk me back down my old train of thought.