Sunday, October 31, 2004

Lady Luck

Montaigne's essay, "Same Design, Differing Outcomes," was a bit of a boring essay; nothing to really get worked up about. The essay, it turns out, is about Fortune and how no matter what we do, "despite all our projects, counsels and precautions," our "human wisdom" is "vain and worthless" because "the outcome remains in the possession of Fortune." In art as well as military exploits, Fortune plays a major part. It is important, however, to make room for good fortune by not being distrustful or suspicious, "For a life ambitious for fame, a man must...yield little to suspicsions and keep them on a tight rein: fear and distrust attract hostile actions: it invites them." It also helps if, besides a strong confidence, one is "not terrified by the thought of death or of the worst that can happen to them in the end." If one can manifest this whole attitude and not waver or doubt, then one will inspire others to trust and believe in you. We may do everything right, "But since such provisions as we can make are full of uncertainty and anguish, it is better to be ready to face with fair assurance anything that can happen, while drawing some consolation from not being sure that it will." So in other words, trust others but don't trust Fortune, she's as fickle and unreliable as they come. Yet even today there are those who continue to worship at her altar. Human nature strikes again. Next week's Montaigne essay: "On the Inequality There is Between Us" Happy Halloween!