The Essayification of Everything
The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless. Lately, you may have noticed the spate of articles and books that take interest in the essay as a flexible and very human literary form. These include “The Wayward Essay” and Phillip Lopate’s reflections on the relationship between essay and doubt, and books such as “How to Live,” Sarah Bakewell’s elegant portrait of Montaigne, the 16th-century patriarch of the genre, and an edited volume by Carl H. Klaus and Ned Stuckey-French called “Essayists on the Essay: Montaigne to Our Time.” The essayist samples more than a D.J.: a loop of the epic here, a little lyric replay there, all with a signature scratch on top. It seems that, even in the proliferation of new forms of writing and communication before us, the essay has become a talisman of our times. What do I mean with this lofty expression? Let’s start with form’s beginning. The possibilitarian is a virtuoso of the hypothetical.
Related: Information, Knowledge, Epistemology, Language
• Irony, Postmodernism, and Our Current Age