THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY is full of people who are full of themselves. A half-hour’s trawl through the online ocean of blogs, tweets, tubes, spaces, faces, pages, and pods brings up thousands of individuals fascinated by their own personalities and shouting for attention. They go on about themselves; they diarize, and chat, and upload photographs of everything they do. Uninhibitedly extrovert, they also look inward as never before. Even as bloggers and networkers delve into their private experience, they communicate with their fellow humans in a shared festival of the self.
Some optimists have tried to make this global meeting of minds the basis for a new approach to international relations. The historian Theodore Zeldin has founded a site called “The Oxford Muse,” which encourages people to put together brief self-portraits in words, describing their everyday lives and the things they have learned. They upload these for other people to read and respond to. For Zeldin, shared self-revelation is the best way to develop trust and cooperation around the planet, replacing national stereotypes with real people. The great adventure of our epoch, he says, is “to discover who inhabits the world, one individual at a time....”
By describing what makes them different from anyone else, the contributors reveal what they share with everyone else: the experience of being human. This idea—writing about oneself to create a mirror in which other people recognize their own humanity—has not existed forever. It had to be invented. And, unlike many cultural inventions, it can be traced to a single person: Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, a nobleman, government official, and winegrower who lived in the Périgord area of southwestern France from 1533 to 1592.
Bakewell, Sarah (2010-10-19). How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer (Kindle Locations 75-99). Other Press. Kindle Edition.
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I almost fell out of the chair laughing at the self reflection presented in the first paragraph from the introduction of Sarah Bakewell's How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer. After the initial laugh, I felt somewhat admonished. Indeed what is my blog but a festival of self? Perhaps it is time to tear this down and become respectably reticent. But as I read on, I found that I am simply presenting self in the fine tradition of the inventor of the essay--Montaigne.
I haven't read this book yet, only started it, but I was so amused with the opening quote that I thought I at least have to point to my dear readers that this book is on the Kindle Daily Deal for $1.99. Alas because it is a Daily Deal, it will only be on sale for today, October 30, 2014 at that price. Amazon further sweetens the deal, if you buy the Kindle edition, you can get the Audible version for 99 cents (which is Whispersynched to the Kindle edition and you can do "immersion reading" on devices that support it, predominantly Kindle-Fire Tablets-the current Kindle e-readers do not have audio). If you do buy both, be sure to buy the Kindle version first. Otherwise you will be charged the full price for the Audible version. I am not sure but you may want to restrict your Audible purchase to the Amazon website rather than using Audible's website to ensure you get the 99 cent price after buying the Kindle edition. Audible has Apps that you can download for a variety of devices here:
Again the Kindle version is only available today at the reduced price of $1.99. Available here:
One thing about Kindles, they are cash registers for Amazon. Good God! My blog is turning into an Amazon advertisement. No I am not getting paid. How dumb is that?