An individual should explore the truth regardless of the pressures exerted on him by others. You are not under any obligation to succumb or conform or accept anybody’s dogmas. Nobody can prescribe a path. So devising one is out of the question. You need to have at the minimum the spirit to explore the intricate depths of your being. Solitude can happen only when time becomes extinct. (The idea is put forward without getting into the question of whether time is real or otherwise)
In all earnestness an essay is a really pure form of inquiry. I have found in an essay what I could not find in any other creative expression with the single exception of poetry. In an essay there is a beautiful element of personal touch. Its simplicity will forever remain undisturbed irrespective of the content the essayist writes about. The style may be bombastic depending on the writer but in the garb of the flowery language, lives the resolute personality.
Poetry is technically a code. Decoding it is unusually difficult because the varieties of form are many. It takes time to actually decode the hidden personality of the poem. You may not expect a poem to be direct as it is purely stylish. Essay on the other hand hits the bull’s eye in directness of personal expression. Essay comes closest to explorative writing. Poetry is beauty as it appears to sensitivity. It travels straight to the heart only when the intellect grasps its hidden meaning. The soul of a poem is allowed to unite with the soul of the reader only when its body is understood and appreciated affectionately.
In an essay the soul and body are one and the same. In an explorative essay there is inquiry not only into one's own personality (that is the observer) but also an inquiry into the observed. Both happen simultaneously. Opinions also have place in this kind of essay as long as their disguise becomes less evident. A personal essay need not be conclusive. Wide reading of such essays suggests that some characterized by agnostic-neutrality need seldom arrive at any conclusion. Flow guides conclusive essays without being blinded by inhibition.
Then there is also the transcendent essay. A transcendent essay is one that causes the writer and the reader to transcend their own limitations through the therapy of creative expression. Any essay can be transcendent depending on what it leads to.
The essay is a direct and simple work of art that conveys a focused thought in diverse modes. The inspiration to carve one comes from within as words are formed by the mind as and when thought decides.
A personal essay may be varied in length. The content varies from one of trivia to one that is ultra-sensitive. It is useful to flavor some essays with the sugar of humor. It isn’t essential though. Humorous essayists must, if they want the reader’s attention arrested, know when to drop in an amusing moment. Humor makes the narrative all the more entertaining in the same way sugar makes water-mellon juice more sweet.
Apart from humorous essays there are of course epigrammatic essays full of mediating repartee, sentences with multiple implications, imagery and witty aphorisms. The content in such essays can be down to earth. It is quite possible for such an essay to contain strong opinions. However it is not so much an opinion as in the way of putting it. The way it is presented is of utmost importance.
Pun, an added feature to writing stimulates the reader’s intellect. Word-play as an exciting venture for any essayist differentiates an essay from the plain ones which may seem pedantic. An epigrammatic essay by itself is a challenge thrown to the writer as sentences or phrases with multiple implications will dilute the thought.
Other possible consequences exist also. It can potentially render a simple event or phenomenon overtly exaggerated. It might even trivialize an essential point worth the pondering of several minds.
Well, I have talked about some kind of essays that come to my mind. All of them are worth the same degree of attention. A personal essay is in its light a unique work of art. It takes the gift of transparency in expression to give life to personal thoughts and feelings. We may suppose a personal essay to be subjective but despite this, subjectivity cannot steal the charm that it has come to be associated with. In-fact it is this subjectivity which drives the reader to marvel over the wonders of human thought. An opinion need not interest us but the way it is put makes all the difference.
There are thoughts in empty space quite viable to scrutiny and far more worth than the opinions of the human mind. Those are the thoughts, the essayist and the poet give shape to with an inconsistency touched by the grace of reason that produce a remarkable work of ingenious immortality.
By Ajay Seshadri