I thought I'd start the New Year with an explanation of my blog's title, The Solitary Walker. I've done this before at the time I began blogging - but I've more readers now, and some of you may have missed it.
The Reveries Of The Solitary Walker was the last, posthumously published work by the great French political philospher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). I suppose Rousseau's most celebrated work is The Social Contract, which contains the famous quotation: Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.
With his highly personal Confessions and Reveries, Rousseau is regarded as the founder of modern autobiography. Rousseau himself considered Émile, his book about education, his best book. But after its publication in 1762 the Parliament of Paris issued a warrant for his arrest due to its revolutionary nature. He escaped from France into Switzerland in the nick of time. And it was during this period of exile in Switzerland that he wrote The Reveries Of The Solitary Walker.
The book contains 10 meditative "walks". This short paragraph comes from his Seventh Walk: I have sometimes thought rather deeply, but rarely with pleasure; almost always against my liking, and as though by force. Reverie relaxes and amuses me; reflection tires and saddens me; thinking always was a painful and charmless occupation for me. Sometimes my reveries end in meditation, but more often my meditations end in reverie; and during these wanderings, my soul rambles and glides through the universe on the wings of imagination, in ecstasies which surpass every other enjoyment.
This from one of the greatest philosophers of the European Enlightenment!