I’m perplexed, dear reader. Of virtue (pp. 646-653) starts with a promising thought â€” that it is not in a crisis that we learn who a man is, but through his day-to-day actions â€” and somehow evolves into a celebration of assassins. In between, we learn that the ritual suicides of Indian wives and Gymnosophists is a “miracle” because of their “constant premeditation through a whole life.”
Montaigne appears to contrast this will-to-death with Christian peoples’ professed belief in fate. That is, while M.’s contemporaries paid lip service to the idea that your number was called long in advance, they still panicked like chickens with their heads cut off during battles.
I suppose M.’s point is that it’s one thing to say you believe something, but another to integrate it into your life:
Except for order, moderation and constancy, I believe that all things are achieveable by a man who in general is very imperfect and defective.
Ha-ha. And I didn’t even go into his celebration of men cutting off their own junk out of spite or abnegation.
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Bonus! To paraphrase Of a monstrous child (pp. 653-4): “A couple of days ago, I saw a particularly messed-up Siamese twin. I also know a farmer who was born without ‘nads. Must be God’s plan. And quit being so provincial; if it happened, it must be part of nature!”