Respect your elders.

Perhaps it's a sign of my ongoing spate of serendipity that the posting date of this month's column falls on the birthday, more than 450 years ago, of the father of the essay, Michel de Montaigne. I couldn't have asked for a better tie-in.

These columns continually revolve around the intersection of internet technologies and my own personal experience. I choose to work (play?) with hypertext, but at their core these are essays (they're even called that in the title of my thesis), and as such owe much of their style and tenor to Montaigne who not only did it first, but perhaps best as well. I certainly can't help being jealous of Montaigne's surprisingly modern voice:
I am myself the subject of my book; it is not reasonable to expect you to waste your leisure on a matter so frivolous and empty.
The personal essay has enjoyed a long and respectable history, and the historians tell us that it all starts with Montaigne. In other words, almost 500 years ago, shortly after the printing press created the possibility of a mass audience, Montaigne set his eyes and his pen to an investigation of everything that surrounded him, and yet at the same time, he understood, as I have found as these columns continue, that ultimately he's writing about himself. The difference, of course, being that he did it much better.

Happy Birthday!

Go to: Get a Life!