With only six of the Essays remaining, I feel as though there should be some sort of growing imperative, a sense of completion in the final 200 pages. So I was a bit disappointed when I read (and re-read) Montaigne’s Of the art of discussion (pp. 854-876), but I didn’t think the last season of The Wire held up to the rest of the series either.
This essay is meant to cover M.’s guide to worthwhile conversation / argument. I was hoping for something that would serve as an explanation of What I Got Out of St. John’s College, but instead it treads over old territory of how the learned reveal themselves to be imbeciles, how princes have dignity through their offices and not their thoughts, how the way in which we approach problems is more important than the substance of what we say about them, and how silly his own speech can be.
It all feels like a rehash, and I suppose there’s some meta-way in which the structure of the essay actually mirrors what he’s seeing about the forms of argument, but I didn’t see it in my readings.
So I’m going to bail on this one, leave you with a single quote â€”
It is unfortunate that wisdom forbids you to be satisfied with yourself and trust yourself, and always sends you away discontented and diffident, whereas opinionativeness and heedlessness fill their hosts with rejoicing and assurance.
â€” and get started on the 55-page Of vanity.