Montaigne, Cicero & MeSaturday, March 12, 2011
It is so easy. I read in my Sunday New York Times (delivered to me by 8pm on Saturday Night) an essay on the last page of the NY Times Book Review. The essay is called Montaigne’s Moment by Anthony Gottlieb. Of Gottlieb a blurb beneath reads: Anthony Gottlieb is writing a sequel to his book “The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy From the Greeks to the Renaissance.”
It is so easy. I can link to this essay directly from the NY Times web site to either facebook or Twitter. Or I can be a tad less efficient and write in facebook’s What’s on your mind:
Neat essay on essayist Montaigne (with the appropriate hyper-link).
But since I generally write what’s on my mind in Spanish it would be:
Interesante ensayo sobre ensayos y los ensayos del ensayista Montaigne.
One of my many Spanish photographer facebook “friends” has been oohing and awing the famous corset photograph by Horst P. Horst. He “found” the picture in some site and several of the other friends comment with verb-less one liners. To me it’s so trite and banal. I would rather be at a café with friends discussing the role of corsets and underwear in history and specifically in photography.
In Anthony Gottlieb Montaigne’s Moment, the author reveals that Montaigne is often called the first blogger and that his sceptical moderation is in short supply in the blogosphere. What caught my eye in particular (since my blogs generally meander) was this:
Dr. Johnson’s dictionary defined an essay as “a loose sally of the mind, an irregular indigested piece.” Bacon’s compositions tend to drive a single conclusion, but Johnson’s “sally” is a nice fit for Montaigne’s meandering collection of thought and those of his more whimsical descendants.
Montaigne, I further read, called his literary project “Essais,” meaning “attempts” or “trials” and the term caught on in English after Francis Bacon, the British philosopher and statesman, used it for his own collection of short pieces in 1597.
Again I was delighted to realize that the word for essay in Spanish is ensayo and that an ensayo also means rehearsal, particularly theatrical and musical ones.
To me it leads me to the realization that a diary, or in this case my bitácora (a ship’s log in Spanish and a beautiful word that has been replaced by the anglicized el blog) is my attempt at throwing my thoughts out there, a sort of hyperspace thought balloons in my search to meaning. It is a way of expressing suspicions, realizations, opinions and doubts, without any fear that any out there might refute them. My blog is almost like the classical diary that was never seen by anybody else. By almost I mean that my blog has no comments section. It is one sided much as Montaigne’s Essais.
And it is personally one sided. As Montaigne wrote: I would rather be an expert on me than on Cicero.