I was a bit ashamed by Muffy's reaction to my post about the new fetish of pedal pumping -- and not merely because he was wittier than I. His final point was this:
I think this is great, really. Not because I enjoy pedal pumping, but because it reveals another layer of the wonderful oddity of folks.
I should have been more attuned to this, because I've been reading a wonderful new book by a BBC presenter called Sarah Bakewell (I think I've mentioned it before) called "How to Live, or, A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer." In the chapter offering the answer "Wake from the Sleep of Habit", Bakewell writes about Montaigne's love of the odd and excessive:
Habit makes everything look bland: it is sleep-inducing. Jumping to a different perspective is a way of waking oneself up again....
Reciting diversities helps to break free of (our narrow and unexamined opinions), if only for brief moments of enlightenment. "This great world," writes Montaigne, "is the mirror in which we must look at ourselves to recognize ourselves from the proper angle."
Of course she also quotes him as saying "The most beautiful lives, to my mind, are those that conform to the common human pattern, with order, but without miracle and without eccentricity."
That doesn't fit me (or anyone else here) any better than pedal pumping -- but thanks again to Muffy for giving me that zen blow on the side of my head....