Saturday, June 12, 2004

Mad Montaigne

Must have been an off day for Montaigne when he wrote "How We Weep and Laugh at the Same Thing". Or maybe back in his day such displays of mixed emotion were not common. Either way, this little essay was a yawner. Good thing it was short. There was one part that made me laugh though:

If only talking to oneself did not look mad, no day would go by without my being heard growling to myself, against myself, "You silly shit!" Yet I do not intend that to be a definition of me.
The image of Montaigne, gentleman, intellectual, dressed in his black Renaissance style garb, walking around town, growling to himself "You silly shit!" is good for a chuckle. I think it more likely he'd get a reputation of being off his rocker--there goes Mad Montaigne!--than for being a silly shit. This is, I believe, the first of Montaigne's essays to show its age. We live in an time where we are psychoanalyzed and encouraged to talk about our feelings. Don't get me wrong, awareness of one's own and other's emotions is a good thing, it's the spectacle that it has become that chaps my hide. I wonder what Montaigne would have to say about Oprah and Barbara Walters specials? Next week's Montaigne essay: "On Sadness"