We are never at home with, but always beyond, ourselves. Fear, desire, and hope impel us into the future, and rob us of the sense and consideration of that which is, in order to keep us musing over that which will be, even when we shall cease to be.
Notes on ‘Our feelings continue beyond this life’:
- The curious rant against democracy, for the Athenians demanding that their generals collect their dead rather than push a military advantage; the fear of each individual for being abandoned, ultimately dooming the whole.
- The role of relics, morbid and powerful; talismans. The requirement of physical presence for the application of power. How does that relate to the abandoned Athenians?
- Speaking truth to power: the two soldiers who told Nero just what they thought of him to his face – rather than waiting until he was dead.
- On too much care about what happens after one dies – either the desire to maintain privacy (the Emperor Maximilian who ‘expressly ordered that after death his parts should be hidden by drawers’ – with Montaigne’s charming comment: ‘He ought to have added, by codicil, that the man who put them on should be blindfold’) or show (as with Montaigne’s kinsman who frittered away his last gasps with arranging his own funeral). At the mercy of the world’s memory.
- The irruption of quotation – disrupting and altering the flow of thought. Perhaps the turn of thought was already there and the quotation was meant to bridge or mask it.
- Funeral obsequies turn to sour wine and salted venison.