Of Montaigne

Kathryn Schulz in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

ScreenHunter_06 Apr. 27 11.12 Montaigne started working on the Essays in 1572 and stopped in 1592, because he died. It is unclear if any lesser force—boredom, procrastination, the munchies—ever significantly deterred him. He wrote freely, about everything, sometimes all at once, his panoptic exuberance suggested by a sampling of chapter titles:

Of Quick or Slow Speech
Of the Force of Imagination
Of Warhorses
Of Idleness
Of Liars
Of Cannibals
Of Drunkenness
Of Smells
Of the Custom of Wearing Clothes

And that’s to say nothing of how tangential and referential matters can get within each chapter. In this, as in so many things, Montaigne was ahead of his time. Long before there was hypertext, his text was hyper; the form the Essays most resemble is the blog. He is happy to think about anything at all, and most of his thoughts have friends, acquaintances, offspring—entire family trees. As he put it, “There is no subject so frivolous that does not merit a place in this rhapsody.”

More here.

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