(The Father of The Essay Genre)
“No pleasure hath any savour unless I can communicate it.”–Montaigne
One key model and influence for this discursive blog has been the famous French writer who changed Western civilization writing with the first essays, appropriately called Essais–the height of humanistic communication–published in 1580 and 1588. There is much of his approach I have consciously/subconsciously adopted and followed as my m.o. the past two years.
Montaigne reclusively worked in solitude and inwardly remained very free, his own man. He was solidly engaged in the examination of himself and others as they reciprocally illuminated and clarified one another. Although he was classically trained and academically theorized, he was also inclined, balancedly, to bring personal experience and observation to bear about his opinions on life and human nature. He aimed to tell the truth, even if some of it was unpleasant or unflattering to others.
Ultimately, he created a rounded, brimming self-portrait via his personal discursive essays which rambled like spirited one-man conversation, not unlike that of Socrates. This offered others glimpses not only into him, but into others and themselves. A process similar to Montaigne coming to know man better, then better understanding himself, as a representative of mankind. Above all, he aimed to discover universal truths about life experience and human nature.
As I continue to follow and express the seemingly never-ending flow of daily topics, I often imagine how much Montaigne would have enjoyed the blogging experience and the similar pleasures of having a Read-Only blog. There is a sublime pleasure to consciousness and expressing it for oneself and others. Still best of all is when creativity is ‘automatic’ with pieces ‘writing themselves’, and, even better, affirming the positive possibilities of human nature and life experience.
As I have sometimes said to others, if you wish to know, understand, and appreciate me better, then check out my blog. A self-portrait indeed.
Above, pictured, the 1283 p. Penguin ed. of M’s best 107 essays. Highly recommended.