Montaigne, skepticism & casual forms (does it work for bloggers?)

Skepticism questions the possibility of certainty in knowledge.

Montaigne was a French philosopher (1533-1592), his “Essays” (the word “Essai” in French means “attempts” or “tests”).

I know you won’t read Montaigne (988 pages in translated English, paperback, $27) – I once read an interview of Orson Welles who said it was the book of his life, and he had one copy next to his bed all along.

This guy was a mess, and he wrote his essays for years, in French (in this time, you had to use Latin if you were a serious scholar), like… thinking all along.


With the goal of describing man with complete frankness and using himself as his most frequent example, Michel de Montaigne first published his “Essays” in 1580. This collection of 107 chapters encompasses a wide variety of subjects – he saw the most basic elements of man as variety and unpredictability. “What do I know?” This embodies the spirit of the entire volume, for it reflects both the inquisitory search for intellectual knowledge as well as the more personal anecdotal quality of a work that has had an enduring impact on both French and English literature for hundreds of years.


He flits around, from a thought to another. No rigor, no plan. Really!

  • “I love the poetic gait, by leaps and gambols”
  • “I lose myself, more by permit than by inattention”
  • “My ideas follow each other, but sometimes from far away”
  • “Wisdom has its excesses, and has no less need of moderation than folly”


So : breathe! Life is short! Your blog is not perfect, it’s bricolage and brain odd jobs. Who cares? Share! If Montaigne can do it, you can do it!

Is this casualness French? Nope : wisdom & folly, there are everywhere, little soul, right?


Thanks for reading!


Here are articles who say the same & the contrary (of course)

The painter paints then steps back to judge then steps forward to paint then…

Artists Unawareness & Prolificity

Examining a problem with Valéry

The 2 Products of a Blogger (and other artisans)

Blogger’s Words Horniness & consequences



Instagram : nathill

6 thoughts on “Montaigne, skepticism & casual forms (does it work for bloggers?)

  1. willgu June 14, 2018 / 6:21 pm

    André Gide (1900s, French) warns the precise reverse – “Take me away from here and give me some reason for living. I have none left. I have freed myself. That may be. But what does it signify? This objectless liberty is a burden to me” (The Immoralist, pg 203). Unbounded intellect is in essence this objectless liberty. Aristotle also mentions, “Wise men speak when they have something to say, fools speak because they have to say something.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jean-Pascal June 14, 2018 / 6:27 pm

      It’s absolutely true! Gide is great and Paul Valéry, his friend, is very clear about that. A little inspiration but a lot of mastery and time. Baudelaire, who was very clever in poiesis, also says that there’s a critic in every good poet.
      Thus I believe we agree : Montaigne was very serious, and worked for years on his essays. He was looking for a style though. This tells a thing about the balance.
      Thanks a lot for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • willgu June 14, 2018 / 6:45 pm

        I haven’t heard of Baudelaire! Seems like he was a Wagnerite which Nietzsche was terribly against for he believed Wagner to be decadent. Any recommendations for what to read from Baudelaire?


      • Jean-Pascal June 14, 2018 / 6:47 pm

        He’s the best French poet ever (Les Fleurs du Mal). But we have a whole book here about his essays about Art. He was a great friend of Edouard Manet.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jean-Pascal June 14, 2018 / 6:41 pm

    I added some links at the end of the article, to tell more about this balance. WILLGU is right!


  3. osmviv June 26, 2018 / 2:21 pm

    It’s rare to hear people mention Montaigne, most people have no idea who he is. I love his crazy tangents, they’re just like one’s own thoughts. I believe he was trying to represent the average person, as he felt he was one. Rare for an aristocrat of any era. Interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

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