Thoughts on the Essay

Brad Holden at the Marginalia Review of Books:

It is the mind of the writer that makes for the most brilliant essays. Reality—whether the material world of our senses or the intellectual world we apprehend—is of intrinsic interest. It exists, according to some thinkers, eternally in the mind of God, an object of divine contemplation. If our attention wanes it is only because we lack the godlike capacity to consider such objects—“the meanest flower that blows” or the cosmic fires overhead—with the attention they deserve. Had we the mind of a philosopher we might be able to observe the distant stars, their light, perhaps a photograph of what once was, and contemplate with love the fate of suns or our own mortality. But we scurry beneath sublimity, and when we glance up we blink.

Those who can attend, those who can make us stop and see some precious portion of reality, these people possess a gift. Call it genius if you want. It may be merely childlike wonderment. But whatever it is, such minds enable us to see something of the beauty of existence.

more here.