Tuesday, October 6, 2009

#17. Playing Around

Well, I created an account, but there is no "Edit" tab that I can see. The only tab available to me is "View." I can tell I'm signed in. Don't really understand what's going on. Maybe later.

I don't know about favorites. Lately, I've really liked the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall. My fiancee and I have watched it a few more times recently and it's very quotable. Now when someone speaks with a British accent, I'm tempted to tilt my head, simulate a bad British accent and say, "You sound like you're from London." When someone needs to move on, I say, "It's like The Sopranos--it's over. Time to find a new show." Etc.

For the headier side of my personality, I'd recommend The Complete Essays of Montaigne, translated by Donald M. Frame. If I could only take one book to a desert island, blah blah blah, this would be it. I used to think the complete works of Shakespeare, but that just seemed like the appropriate answer. Honestly, I'd take Montaigne. The first essay is called "By diverse means we arrive at the same end" and the last one, is called "Of Experience." But the essay I've been reading lately, also from the "third" book, is titled "Of Vanity." I just flipped it open to a random place in the essay and found this:

Whatever it is, whether art or nature, that imprints in us this disposition to live with reference to others, it does us much more harm than good. We defraud ourselves of our own advantages to make appearances conform with public opinion. We do not care so much what we are in ourselves and in reality as what we are in the public mind. Even the joys of the mind, and wisdom, appear fruitless to us, if they are enjoyed by ourselves alone, if they do not shine forth to the sight and approbation of others.

This made me think of writing this blog, and all blogs in general. There's something strange and fruitless to the feeling that others must read it, and I don't really know why that's so important. But it feels like it is, whether by art or nature. And I wonder about how good it is too, which is why I closed my Facebook account. I did feel defrauded by the notion that I somehow needed to live in the online public square.

I remember writing to a friend (a letter, by hand, on sheets of paper, because Montaigne will inspire that kind of thing) calling Montaigne a friend. I regretted it after I'd sent the letter, because it felt ridiculous to write. And it still sort of is, but there's something about this book that feels a lot like the best aspects of friendship.

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