This is the question that has been plaguing me all day. Montaigne thinks, along with many other people of his time if we can believe him, that it is imprudent for a governor to do so. He does conceed that occasionally one must take into account extenuating circumstances and decide for oneself just how imprudent it is. He gives evidence of governors who have taken this seemingly imprudent route and had it work out for the best…
Let’s be honest, this question has been very far from my thoughts. No wonder this essay was left out of the French edition; it has only tangential relevance to us in modern society. What we mostly learn from it is something that we might forget as we glorify the literature or the artwork of the times in which Montaigne lived–that violence back then was less contained by law and order. There may be a lot to complain about in a legalistic/bureaucratic society that exasperates and suffocates people of action, but at least we don’t have to worry about building castles to protect ourselves from our volatile neighbors. (We only need to build prison walls and barbed wire fences to protect us from our impoverished and restless compatriots.)
Instead of worrying about such questions, I’m free to spend 7 euros on a train ticket that will take me to Paris and back and let me ride the metro as many times as I want in one day. But of course if you take the metro you miss out on the city above it, so I myself only used it twice today. I went into Paris without any real plans, but I was hoping to meet up with Luke, my Liverpudlian acquaintance (thanks for the adj. Allie). Otherwise my plan just consisted of walking around the Latin quarter and Montparnasse. I went into a bookstore that M. Riobé recommended to me at the Place St. Michel and bought a book that Mlle Geller recommended to me (Germinal, by Zola, in French). Then I met up with Luke, and since he didn’t want to spend much money we wound up getting kebabs. I had somehow always avoided them before, even in spite of their cheap plastic, backlit photos glorifying that greasy mystery meat hanging on a rod with red lights shining on it and keeping it warm.
But it isn’t just idle chatter that has made me notorious for eating just about anything. I ate it and it was fine. I’m not saying it’s better even than McDonald’s, and it certainly was a far cry from that éclair au café that I ate yesterday (“heavenly” being the adjective that jumpsnto my ind to describe it), but it was edible nonetheless. I learned that Luke is in a pretty similar circumstance to me. He has graduated college (or “Uni,” as he often says) and doesn’t know what he wants to do after this. All he knows is that he doesn’t want to be one of those people who decides to do something because it’s easy and then finds himself still there after 20 years have passed. The main difference between our situations is that he wasn’t a French major and only chose to do this program at the last minute, whereas I knew that I wanted to do it the second I found out about it.
He didn’t seem too distraught by England’s quarter final loss to France in the Rugby World Cup. I guess figuring out where he will live in Paris is more urgently important to him. Thankfully I don’t have to try and do the same!