The essays of Montaigne show, in their structure, an echo of the scholastic treatise. The authors of a scholastic treatise first compiled the opinions and teachings of earlier authors before explaining his own position on the topic. Montaigne often also starts with citations of several classic authors, before developing his own ideas. Perhaps the mottos or citations at the start of some modern essays are a reflection of this tradition.
I don’t own any pet and I don’t intend to get one. I would only get a pet animal if I owned a sufficiently large plot of land, and that is not going to happen. In that case, however, I would maybe have a donkey (or a couple of them). I don’t know why, I have absolutely no idea why, but whenever I see donkeys, I am smitten :-). I somehow have a soft spot for them.
Other animals I like include Kakapos and Manatees. I hope we can manage to prevent them from going extinct (although I doubt that is going to happen). They cannot be kept as pets (better so), and the whole idea of having pets is a strange one, I think. It is a very strange phenomenon of our culture. Imagin coming into our culture as a visitor from a culture where the idea of pets does not exist…
Habe nun, ach! Philosophie,
Juristerei und Medizin,
Und leider auch Theologie
Durchaus studiert, mit heißem Bemühn.
Da steh ich nun, ich armer Tor!
Und bin so klug als wie zuvor;
Heiße Magister, heiße Doktor gar
Und ziehe schon an die zehen Jahr
Herauf, herab und quer und krumm
Meine Schüler an der Nase herum –
Und sehe, daß wir nichts wissen können!
Das will mir schier das Herz verbrennen.
Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie,
Und grün des Lebens goldner Baum.
(To be read in the context of formal theories vs. creativity…)
How strange, to sit in a train at night, reading Vsevolod Ivanov’s “The Return of the Buddha”. To read this strange story with the background noise of a train, although a very comfortable modern one. The professor and his Mongolian companions traveling with a Buddha statue in a goods wagon. A story of deterioration. One can feel the chaos of the revolution. The thin layer of civilization is scrapped away like the gold from the Buddha statue in the story. How thin is that layer in the train and the people around me?
Before socialist realism took over, there was some really interesting literature in Russia.
Every culture seems to have something like an interface with reality. Depending on the culture, this interface has a different bandwidth. The smaller the bandwidth, the more fictional elements the world view of the culture may contain. With the widening of the interface in the process of getting a more complex culture, the fictional elements are pushed aside and at some point, the category of “fiction” is created. Before that, they are myths, now, they turn into fiction.
Our culture as a whole has a very wide interface with reality, with telescopes, microscopes etc. used to increase the bandwidth. Within it, however, subcultures are forming whose bandwidth might even be narrowing, through ideology, denialism, consumerism etc.
The high bandwidth of the scientific culture is only possible on the basis of an industrial civilization. The industrial civilization in the form we have is not sustainable (see Civilizations). When it collapses, the bandwidth will decrease again. It will not be possible to maintain the scientific knowledge we have acquired. Culture will shatter into smaller cultures with different world views.