The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

Montaigne 1.4

But, in good sooth, when the hand is raised to strike we feel hurt if it misses its aim and falls on empty air; so also, if the sight is to have a pleasant prospect, it must not be lost and scattered on vacant space, but have an object to sustain it at a reasonable distance […] so it would seem as if the soul, when moved and shaken, were lost in itself if it is given no hold; it must always be provided with an object to aim at and work upon.

A charming truism, this essay, that one tends to lash out at something if one hurts, even if one cannot attack the cause of the pain – and this can in fact be counterproductive. Thus the case of the gouty man who persists in eating rich foods against his doctor’s orders so that he has the comfort of feeling that he knows the cause of his pain – ‘that if he could shout and curse the Bologna sausage, or the ham, or the ox-tongues, he felt very much better’.


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