Chapter 4 – Essays

Introduction

In Simple Reality we have chosen to assume the role of iconoclast in an attempt to shock the reader into waking up to the reality in which we are all immersed. Then having done that, anticipate that the residual energy will be used to entertain the possibility of changing self-destructive habits.

Essayist Philip Wylie’s Generation of Vipers exemplifies this approach. “It is perhaps the best modern American example of the ancient and honorable art of direct attack, of going at your antagonist with every available rhetorical weapon in order to overwhelm him. Some readers may prefer not to call this kind of writing “satire,” arguing that it is simply a display of bad temper and a release of frustrations [a reaction], while true satire is a more artful, a more direct indictment of men and their institutions.”  Whether we call the essays in this chapter satire or not they are certainly critical (occasionally tongue in cheek) of human behavior both personal and institutional.

Michel Montaigne (1533-1592) called his “modest mementos of his mind, essais” meaning “attempts” or “trials.” “The term caught on in English after Francis Bacon, the British philosopher and statesman, used it for his own collection of short pieces in 1597.”  Dr. Samuel Johnson’s (1709-1784) dictionary defined an essay as “a loose sally [sudden leap] of the mind; an irregular indigested piece.”

In our essays you will find some “attempts,” some “trials,” and a fair amount of “sallying forth.” In honor of Francis Bacon, we lead off with his essay on the subject of “truth.”

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Essays – Table of Contents

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References and notes are available for this essay.
Find a much more in-depth discussion in books by Roy Charles Henry.

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