16 January 2011

The First Blogger

Montaigne is the first blogger. He attributes the production of his Essais to an excess of idleness: the mind, he avers, requires activity or it becomes cluttered with an overgrowth of useless weeds. The mind needs tending. He returns home from some public commitment and according to Frame’s biographical chart, Montaigne falls into some sort of depression out of which he hopes his essays will raise him. He is oppressed by the things he experiences in his mind, and he recognizes that it is in the structure of the writing that he might cure himself—the talking cure begun as writing. “I findthat like a runaway horse, [my mind in idleness] gives itself a hundred times more trouble than it took for others, and gives birth to so many chimeras and fantastic monsters, one after another, without order or purpose, that in order to contemplate their ineptitude and strangeness at my pleasure, I have begun to put them in writing, hoping in time to make my mind ashamed of itself.” That is, alarmed by the uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) absurdities that occur in his thoughts, he means to transforms those chimeras and monsters by actively writing them out and turn respectable the disreputable nature of his idle mind.

What a wonderful project—to give some order to the thoughts in his head and therefore make order of his thoughts. And to acknowledge that perhaps what he considers worthy of contemplation might be amusing or even interesting to some one else. And his essays give his mind, as he suggests, location—it is there, on the page, at least for the present.

And this blog, OF CLAY AND WATTLES MADE, a place to rest, and I shall have some peace there, for peace may come dropping slow.


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