Flaviu’s Notes 🗺
I write to understand.
The word essay comes from the French essayer, meaning “to try”. Essays not as complete arguments but as exploratory journeys into the space of ideas.
Essays has gained other meanings today, hence I call this space my notes. I want to preserve Montaigne’s original spirit of attempt to express ideas.
I’ll frame things with a quote from Joseph Glanvill in 1661, reproduced by David Wooton in The Invention of Science.
And I doubt not but posterity will find many things that are now but Rumors into practical Realities. It may be some Ages hence, a voyage to the Southern unknown Tracts, yea possibly the Moon, will not be more strange then one to America. To them, that come after us, it may be as ordinary to buy a pair of wings to fly into the remotest Regions; as now a pair of Boots to ride a Journey. And to conferr at the distance of the Indies by Sympathetick conveyances, may be as usual to future times, as to us in a litterary correspondance… Now thosem that judge by the narrowness of former Principles, will smile at these Paradoxical expectations: But questionless those great Inventions, that have in these later Ages altered the face of all things; in their naked proposals, and meer suppositions, were to former times as ridiculous. To have talk’d of new Earth [Americas] to have been discoveredm, had been a Romance to the Antiquity; And to sayl without the sight of Stars or shoars by the guidance of a Mineral [the compass], a story more absurd then the flight of the Deadalus.
It’s really interesting to think that, in posterity, my language will sound equally dated.
But, in the ages that followed Joseph Glanvill, the world did indeed go to the Southern unknown Tracts (now known as Australia) and even the Moon 🚀 🌕.
We can’t yet buy a pair of wings, but we can board a plane and fly to the remotest regions. And we can talk to the remotest places by Sympathetic conveyances.
We now just call them electromagnetic waves.