Montaigne, the father of the personal essay, penned this famous line: “The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
I couldn’t resist notice of the heart shape of this etching. Thus the date of this post… I also admire the ruff around his neck. Now that I’ve reached ancient age, I strongly desire for the style to return…to camouflage my over-wrinkled neck.
Montaigne, the father of the personal essay, the captain of the middle stage of my encore career. First I crafted song lyric-like arrangements of the vocabulary I knew yet couldn’t drop into daily conversation without losing listeners to glaze-eyed drift. Next I specialized in flash fiction, rapidly filling a page with beginning, middle, and punch line end. A personal essay or two were published in the middle stage. Significance, acknowledgement, writing at greater depth and breadth and length.
Montaigne’s writing is/was a model. His prose is/was famously discursive, riding its way among an esoteric array of topics, including cannibals, thumbs, farts, Indian chiefs, Socrates, and repentance. His peers didn’t appreciate his innovation: his tendency to digress into anecdotes and personal ruminations was seen as improper and his declaration that, “I am myself the matter of my book”, was viewed as pompously self-indulgent.
But look at how the style of the times dressed people as pompous self-indulgents. But I digress…
My personal essays often did/do feature rants. As Boomers we feel entitled to do so – am I right? “Back in my day…”
One famously was enjoined by a fellow writing group member: “That’s a book!” And so I began to acquire skills.
Montaigne never stopped altering his work…what he could have do with a keyboard and its innumerable functions! Scrivener? Heaven! Blogging? Nirvana! Auto correct – no so much, I gotta think because I identify so deeply.
Montaigne was attempting to write his mind onto the page, using free association as a philosophical technique.
Blogging – yes!
Also loving the present phase of my encore career: serial novel writer.
Begone auto correct nazi!
Be calm and write on, PJC.
“You belong to me!”
I often find that I was writing about myself even when I thought I wasn’t. Makes sense. It all comes from within my own skull after all.