Tuesday, May 21, 2013

For, in truth, custom is a violent and treacherous schoolmistress. She, by little and little, slily and unperceived, slips in the foot of her authority, but having by this gentle and humble beginning, with the benefit of time, fixed and established it, she then unmasks a furious and tyrannic countenance, against which we have no more the courage or the power so much as to lift up our eyes. We see her, at every turn, forcing and violating the rules of nature: "Usus efficacissimus rerum omnium magister." -Montaigne
A friend of mine invited me to a book discussion on some essays of Michael Montaigne. The above quotation came from an essay entitled "Of Custom, and that We should Not Easily Change a Law Received". He goes on to say "if we consider what we have ordinary experience of, how much custom stupefies our senses." We sell ourselves to the habit of custom so that we can expand the quantity of existence without any thought to the tyranny that we accept so that we lose all of the creativity and originality of our humanity. And then something happens that liberates us from the prison of age and expectations. We do not know how to cope with the backlash that awaits us because the weight of society beats us down, makes us conform.