Thanksgiving Is Ruined
April 09, 2008
don't bother scrubbing your archives . . .
. . . they may contain your only intelligent stuff.
Often we correct ourselves as stupidly as we correct others.
That's maybe the most killer line of his quoted in a recent review of a new edition of his essays.
(In the original:Nous nous corrigeons aussi sottement souvent, comme nous corrigeons les autres.)
The essayist continued, according to the review (in an excerpt quoted also here):
After a long stretch of time, I have become older, but certainly not an inch wiser.
Montaigne understood that human intelligence over the course of a lifetime or a historical epoch can in fact go backwards.
He was approximately four centuries ahead of his time in this discovery. The same findings later were presented in more rigorous and irrefutable form, of course, here.
The above-linked review did not disclose which particular essay by Montaigne contained the above-quoted bit. A little digging finds it to be Book III, Chapter IX, "Of Vanity."
The various on-line translations of the passage show it to sound richer and wiser, the earlier and more antiquated is the language.
(Or, to qualify the preceding statement in way that increases its generalized accuracy at the cost of making it less punchy and clear-cut and therefore less entertaining:How the translation "sounds" in one's internal ear at any given moment probably shifts, depending on which direction the wind is blowing in the meteorological system of one's mental and emotional weather. For more on the vagaries of these winds, see below.)
[W]e often correct ourselves as foolishly as we do others. . . .
Which sort of supports the guy's point.