To distract myself from tiresome thoughts, I have only to resort to books; they easily draw my mind to themselves and away from other things.
From Montaigne’s Essays.
Coincidentally last week I revisited Michel de Montaigne’s essays and was reminded that his birthday was this Sunday. Encouraged, I decided to bake a small treat to celebrate his day. I know that in the region of Périgord, walnut tarts and cakes are traditional, so I opted for a tart with a twist of including dried golden berries in it. It all added to a delightful afternoon of introspection.
Now we are not merely to stick knowledge on to the soul: we must incorporate it into her; the soul should not be sprinkled with knowledge but steeped in it. And if knowledge does not change her and make her imperfect state better then it is preferable just to leave it alone. Knowledge is a dangerous sword; in a weak hand which does not know how to weild it it gets in its master’s way and wounds him, ‘ut fuerit melius non didicisse’ [so that it would have been better not to have studied at all].
I would like to suggest that our minds are swamped by too much study and by too much matter just as plants are swamped by too much water or lamps by too much oil; that our minds, held fast and encumbered by so many diverse preoccupations, may well lose the means of struggling free, remaining bowed and bent under the load; except that it is quite otherwise: the more our souls are filled, the more they expand.