Sunday, April 15, 2012

We bloggers are all Montaigne's children

From Andrew Sullivan:

A Montaigne essay, like a Shakespeare soliloquy, gives us the impression that we are in the presence not of a disembodied, opinion-spouting voice, but of a real person. 
Long after those essays lost their relevance, long after the second-hand reports from the Americas and meditations on 16th-century French politics ceased to be news, they have maintained their appeal because they are a personality embodied. And the foremost trait of that personality is freedom: freedom to take up and turn over absolutely any subject in human experience, on any prompting or none; to follow any tangent simply because it catches his eye; to begin and end a continent apart, or simply to trail off; to know for the simple sake of knowing 
In Montaigne’s day, that freedom was the privilege of an aristocrat. Today, unless we trade it away for a mess of relevance, it’s the birthright of anyone with a high school education and an Internet connection.

Montigne's essays speak well to us even today, although some of his topics are dated. He was a remarkably clear yet penetrating writer. Some of his essays are timeless-- That to study philosophy is to learn to die, and Of Pedantry, and perhaps his best-- On Vanity. 

Imagine what he could have done with Blogger.

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