What’s an essay?

I’m tryin’ to nail down a definition of what’s an essay. I click the first link on Google, Wikipedia. The beginning of the first sentence reads:

An essay is a piece of writing that gives the author’s own argument [..]

This raises more questions than it answers: (1) What is an argument? (2) Why does it say “the author’s own” argument—is an essay strictly one’s own, personal point of view? And (3), does an essay need to be a piece of writing, or could it be a piece of music as well?

Probably my own mistake, I shot in my own foot so-to-speak, why do I even use Wikipedia to look things up?

“An argument is a statement or group of statements called »premises« intended to determine the degree of truth or acceptability of another statement called conclusion,” says Wikipedia.

“PHRASE. Shoot yourself in the foot. INFORMAL. Cause yourself trouble by being stupid,” says Macmillan thesaurus dotcom.

Yesterday—all day long—I complained to my informal girlfriend how tired I am, and that I should go to bed earlier. She told me that I’m going to go to bed early today. She came into my bedroom at midnight, to check on my sleeping.

“It is a vulgar error to suppose that you have tasted huckleberries who never plucked them. A huckleberry never reaches Boston; they have not been known there since they grew on her three hills. The ambrosial and essential part of the fruit is lost with the bloom which is rubbed off in the market cart, and they become mere provender. As long as Eternal Justice reigns, not one innocent huckleberry can be transported thither from the country’s hills.”

She pulled away the blanket I was hiding under. “Why!” she exclaimed. “You’re still playing with your phone! Sleep now!” she commanded. I put my phone with my copy of Walden, a series of 18 essays by Henry David Thoreau, into airplane mode, set it down on the floor. How I would like to taste such huckleberries! What an essay!

“Essays can be formal—serious purpose, logical organisation—and informal—the personal element, humour, graceful style,” says Wikipedia. I notice the “and”, formal AND informal, so it can be both, I guess.

Wikipedia lists non-literary types of essays: Film, Music, Photography, Visual Arts. I would call The Moldau by Bedřich Smetana an essay in music. However, the Encyclopædia Britannica classifies it as symphonic poem. “The characteristic single-movement symphonic poem evolved from the concert-overture, an overture not attached to an opera or play yet suggestive of a literary or natural sequence of events,” says Encyclopædia Britannica. And then there’s this big pop-up on their website, right in my face, “TRUST THE FACTS” it says. Well, if it says so, who am I to question this great institution of definitional truth?

What’s an essay? What’s not an essay? What’s a good essay? Good for what? Good in doing what, good for serving what purpose? Ah yes, I recall Wikipedia, “to give my own argument”. Ah yes, the argument, supposedly a statement or group of statements that make my own conclusion more “acceptable”, more palatable, according to whoever edited Wikipedia last.

I need to work. I want to upload a second version of my latest video, the one titled “MOVE and THINK: An Essay in Movement”, circles with the lower arms, but with a different introduction. I need to film the introduction. And I need to write—to write an essay for my patrons. Been looking forward to this all month. So- let’s get to the filming first.