onsdag 30 oktober 2013

Onsdag. Montaigne om att knåda det nya ämnet

"Om mina intellektuella krafter inte räcker till för att klargöra en sak slutar jag ändå inte upp med att loda och pröva den, och genom att granska och knåda det nya ämnet, genom att röra om i det och värma upp det överlämnar jag det till den som kommer efter mig i ett smidigare och mer hanterligt skick, så att han lättare kan njuta det: såsom vax från Hymettos/ mjuknar i solen och lätt kan formas till många figurer/ när det knådas med tummen och genom att nyttjas blir nyttigt (Ovidius, Metamorfoser)."

Så skriver Montaigne i andra bokens 12:e kapitel (översättning av Jan Stolpe). Jag funderar mycket på det som sägs. Inte minst de sista orden från Ovidius stämmer till eftertanke: att "genom att nyttjas blir nyttigt" får mig att tänka på hur också undersökningen och studiet av en politisk rörelse man blir alltmer bekant med den, just för att man ägnar den tid och arbete. Nyttjad, nyttig! Det är alldeles för lätt att man ger upp inför det som de egna intellektuella krafterna inte tycks kunna hantera. Men vid femte eller åttonde försöket bryter man igenom en vall. Man når fram. Man förstår bättre och kan dra slutsatser.

3 kommentarer:

Anonym sa...

One of Montaigne's favourite hobbies was imagining the world from different perspectives. To remind himself how strange human behaviour looked if one's vision was not dulled by familiarity, he collected stories from his reading: tales of countries where men urinated squatting and women standing, where people blackened their teeth or elongated their ears with rings, where hair was worn long in front and short behind, or where boys were expected to kill their fathers at a certain age.
At home, he extended his perspective-leaping to other species. "When I play with my cat", he wrote, "who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?" He borrowed her point of view in relation to him just as readily as he occupied his own in relation to her. And, as he watched his dog twitching in sleep, he imagined the dog creating a disembodied hare to chase in its dreams – "a hare without fur or bones", just as real in the dog's mind as Montaigne's own images of Paris or Rome were when he dreamed about those cities. The dog had its inner world, as Montaigne did, furnished with things that interested him.
These were all extraordinary thoughts in Montaigne's own time, and they remain so today. They imply an acceptance that other animals are very much like us, combined with an ability to wonder how differently they might grasp what they perceive. Some animals see colours differently from humans, for example, so who is to say which are the "real" colours of things? Montaigne quoted a story he had picked up from Pliny, about a species of "sea-hare", a kind of sea-slug, which is deadly to humans but which (thought Pliny) itself dies on contact with human skin. "Which is really poisonous?" he asked. "Which are we to believe, the fish about man, or man about the fish?" Surely we must believe neither – or both.
Sarah Bakewell

Thomas Nydahl sa...

Dear Sarah, thanks a lot for your comment!

Now I found your webpage, and it´s inspiring to learn about your book on Montaigne!

Anonym sa...

Renaissance estates were self-sufficient. A Lord like Montaigne depended upon numerous goods. The estate produced an annual rate of several tens of thousends of litres of vine. But the harvests varied in size due to climate, plague and fighting.
The most important features of Montaignes study were its windows. What he saw? Well, they afforded rich and free views in three directions; the vegetable garden, the vineyards and the courtyard.
It was the only room in the chateau from which Montaigne could oversee the entire estate! This in order to have a view upon the servants and to know who comes and goes in his chateau.
To see, but not necessarily to be seen.
It would have been impossible – for outsiders - to know where Montaigne was in the tower? Was he watching the fields outside the chateau where his gardeners, hired hands and tenant farmers laboured? Or was he in the side chamber watching the interior courtyard where his servents worked and lived?
Workers may very well have been forced to remain on their best behavior.
There was a large bell hanging in the Tower, necessary to send Montaignes workers to the fields at dawn and summon them back in the evening.
Never forget – Montaignes Tower was an administrative centre for an agricultural concern encompassing nearly nine hundred acres, one hundred labourers, and God knows how many servants.
George Hoffman