1. “Man all in all is but a botching…”


    When I religiously confess myself unto myself, I find the best good I have hath some vicious taint…. Man all in all is but a botching and parti-coloured work.

    —Michel de Montaigne, “We Taste Nothing Purely,” translated by John Florio

    The word “botch” has been in the news in the past few days. As Merriam-Webster editor-at-large, Peter Sokolowski, put it, the word has “captured the attention of the country, without question.” Shakespeare, like Montaigne (via Florio), used “botch” in its earlier sense of “patch.”

    Peter G. Platt, who edited and annotated Shakespeare’s Montaigne, finds a parallel sentiment in Twelfth Night. He notes:

    a work that is patched and of more than one color; see Feste, the “parti-coloured,” motley fool in Shakespeare, Twelfth Night: “bid the dishonest man mend himself: if he mend, he is no longer dishonest; if he cannot, let the botcher mend him. Anything that’s mended is but patched. Virtue that transgresses is but patched with sin, and sin that amends is but patched with virtue” (I.v.38–45).

    Photo: Charles O’Rear (a name Shakespeare would have loved!) Hitchhiker with His Dog “Tripper” on U.S. 66, May 1972. Part of the Documerica series. 


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