What’s it about. What’s the subject. Why no question marks. One could perhaps ad an of or an on to any title and the title would still function properly. Check this out: Of The Great Gatsby. Of Shades of Grey. It would not work so well, though, if one’s title begins with a preposition, if it already begins with an of or an on. Of Of Mice and Men doesn’t sound good and makes little sense—unless one is writing ABOUT Of Mice and Men, in which case about would be a better choice, albeit pedestrian. What ABOUT Of Mice and Men? “Of Steinbeck’s Use of Fuzzy Rabbits in Of Mice and Men.” That’s much better.
Why am I writing about this? I am writing about this because I have been reading Michel de Montaigne, the French writer from the 16th century who pretty much invented the essay form, coined the term to describe this animal, and who, more significantly perhaps, and more germane to my crazy blog title, began every single one of his essay titles with the word of: “Of Cannibals,” “Of Drunkenness,” “Of Smells,” “Of Thumbs,” “Of Sorrows,” “Of Liars,” “Of Fear,” “Of Sleep,” “Of Names,” “Of Three Good Women,” of etc.
So I had an idea that I would try this out—this of and on way of beginning, and I thought that, too, I would solicit of_____ titles from readers, students, friends, and I’d come up with my own list—so that I would never be at a loss for something to write of, on, or about.
What would be the nature of these babies, these “Of_____” essays? They would be short, highly improvisational meditations on a variety of subjects, and they would serve the purpose of stretching my thinker, broadening my range of subject matter, teaching me something about something, experimenting with mind, rediscovering my inner Montaigne, and postponing my fiction writing. And for you, dear reader, they would provide some free-form thought theater.
So what do you say? Would you like to help? Give me an assignment, a word, a verb or a noun, a phrase, a writer, a book, a day, an artist, a poem, a song, a band, an animal, a plant, a film—and I will do my best; verily, I’ll do my best. You can bet though, I’m going to cut myself some slack, in that if I receive and choose an of or on topic for which I am woefully unqualified to speak, I will approach it any way that I can. And that may or may not be satisfying to the originator of the topic, but I hope it will at least be of some entertainment or educational value to the general reader.
Ready? I will put all suggestions into a hat or a bag or a bucket, and when I am so inclined, hopefully with some regularity, I will draw a title and begin to write.
Game on. Or, game of.