From I:10. On a ready or hesitant delivery
I cannot remain fixed within my disposition and endowments. Chance plays a greater part in all this than I do. The occasion, the company, the very act of using my voice, draw from my mind more than what I can find there when I exercise it and try it out all by myself. And that is why the spoken word is worth more than the written - if a choice can be made between things of no value.
This, too, happens in my case: where I seek myself I cannot find myself: I discover myself more by accident than by inquiring into my judgement. Suppose something subtle springs up as I write - I mean, of course, something which would be blunt in others but is acute in me. (Enough of these courtesies! When we say such things we all mean them to be taken in proportion to our abilities.) Later, I miss the point so completely that I do not know what I meant to say (some outsider has often rediscovered the meaning before I do). If every time that happened I were to start scraping out words with my eraser I would efface the whole of my Essays. Yet, subsequently, chance may make what I wrote clearer than the noon-day sun: it will be my former hesitations which then astonish me.
- Dreams of idleness
- Mondays with Montaigne (channeling the Stoics)
- Mondays with Montaigne (on money)
- Agnosticism versus fallibilism
- Mondays with Montaigne (on discovering himself acc...
- Trollope and Eliot on preachers
- Alan Jacobs on making the Great Books your steady ...
- We make our contribution and depart
- Mondays with Montaigne (on lying)
- ▼ June (9)