Ideas that repeat

2020-05-26 @Lifestyle

Don’t thoughts, ideas, anxieties and vanities repeat themselves viciously across time? Does anything fundamentally new ever transpire? I take reassuring comfort in the contrary.

I’m inclined to believe the magnitude of our burdens next to null with respect to the span of the universe: our footprint, infinitesimal. Leverage that design in whichever way you please. As for me, it makes for a more liberating life.

I keep returning to this topic. And will probably continue on until the writing habit exhausts all charm.

On a related note, I stumbled across a Montaigne essay in which he relates his father’s observation for the need of what today we know as the classifieds:

… that there might be in every city a certain place assigned to which such as stood in need of anything might repair, and have their business entered by an officer appointed for that purpose.

As for example: I want a chapman to buy my pearls; I want one that has pearls to sell; such a one wants company to go to Paris; such a one seeks a servant of such a quality; such a one a master; such a one such an artificer; some inquiring for one thing, some for another, every one according to what he wants.

And doubtless, these mutual advertisements would be of no contemptible advantage to the public correspondence and intelligence: for there are evermore conditions that hunt after one another, and for want of knowing one another’s occasions leave men in very great necessity.

That reads like a legitimate business plan for any online goods-services exchange. The discovery of something this pragmatic and rudimentary dating back to the sixteenth-century fills me with delight.

And here Montaigne promotes the journaling habit:

… that besides the day-book or memorial of household affairs, where the small accounts, payments, and disbursements, which do not require a secretary’s hand, were entered, and which a steward always had in custody, he ordered him whom he employed to write for him, to keep a journal, and in it to set down all the remarkable occurrences, and daily memorials of the history of his house: very pleasant to look over, when time begins to wear things out of memory, and very useful sometimes to put us out of doubt when such a thing was begun, when ended; what visitors came, and when they went; our travels, absences, marriages, and deaths; the reception of good or ill news; the change of principal servants, and the like.

An ancient custom, which I think it would not be amiss for every one to revive in his own house; and I find I did very foolishly in neglecting it.

How then pleased am I to have maintained this one of my more consistent and eternally rewarding older habits. I only hope to be equipped to decipher those pages in the subsequent decades.

In regards to the main topic, the eternal repetition of happenings and the such, this too, by way of induction, we can observe even in Montaigne’s period:

Who is it that, seeing the havoc of these civil wars of ours, does not cry out, that the machine of the world is near dissolution, and that the day of judgment is at hand; without considering, that many worse things have been seen, and that in the meantime, people are very merry in a thousand other parts of the earth for all this?

… To him who feels the hailstones patter about his ears, the whole hemisphere appears to be in storm and tempest; …

… But whoever shall represent to his fancy, as in a picture, that great image of our mother nature, in her full majesty and lustre, whoever in her face shall read so general and so constant a variety, whoever shall observe himself in that figure, and not himself but a whole kingdom, no bigger than the least touch or prick of a pencil in comparison of the whole, that man alone is able to value things according to their true estimate and grandeur.

Questions, comments? Connect.