Thursday, May 19, 2005

Here's a little more Emerson for you-

This is from an address he gave at Harvard in 1837, called "The American Scholar" back when Harvard meant something other than a guaranteed TV writing job right out of college.

I mean, shit- didn't a degree from Harvard used to mean something? I mean, something other than "You went to Harvard, and you're 22? well feel free to have a job ruining the Simpsons!"

Anyway, here's the passage that turned me on, about the role of "great literature" in education:

The theory of books is noble. The scholar of the first age recieved into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him life; it went out from him truth...But none is quite perfect. As no air pump can by any means create the perfect vaccum, so neither can any artist entirely exclude the conventional, the local, the perishable from his book, or write a book of pure thought, that shall be as efficient, in all respects, to a remote posterity...

Each age, it is found, must write it's own books; or rather each generation for the next succeeding. The books of an older period will not fit this. Yet hence arises a grave mischief... The (original) writer was a just and wise spirit: henceforward it is settled the book is perfect; as love of the hero corrupts into worship of his statue. Instantly, the book becomes noxious: the guide is a tyrant...Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it thier duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon have given; forgetful that Cicero, Locke and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote those books. Hence, instead of Man Thinking, we have the bookworm...

What he is saying here, over a century after his death, now reknowned as one of the classic geniuses in American literature is this:

"Don't fucking feel like you have to read me."

"If you are sitting inside, poring over the classics, worshipping them because some college tells you it's great, well then you're not a scholar, you're a douchebag, and you should be absorbing the universal truths that nature presents to you, and turn that universal truth into your own book, that speaks the language of the times. And if I'm too old and stodgy by that time for you to get into my stuff, well- fuck it. Put down my fucking book, don't believe the hype, get the fuck out there, live life and write about it!"

I'm paraphrasing, of course.

I haven't read all of Emerson's works, but I'm fairly sure he didn't call a lot of people "douchebags."

Maybe James Boswell.

I know, Dr. Johnson was pithy as hell, but seriously, what a suckup.

Oh, and I'm working over at the store tonight.

So on the exterior, while it might look like I'm merely repeating the phrase "Yeah, we have Team America, but they're all rented out"; what I'm really doing is getting out into the natural world, gaining experience, and adding new possibilities of metaphor to my constantly evolving soul.

By the way, who woulda thunk that in a year with no playoff hockey, I'd decide to fill that void with transcendentalism?


OK- time to go to work.


At 1:08 PM , Blogger Richie said...

So Emerson was a Beast too, huh?

At 1:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well heck I attached my comment of a few moments ago to the wrong post. See the one about " . . .abnormalities in the blood . . . Hemmingway . . ." in partial response to the aggressive "you're full of [fecal matter]" comments of a few days back. BTW, your remarks have more force when not misspelled and when the apostrophe in, or not in, "its/it's" is not misused.

As for the meaning of a Harvard degree, in Emerson's time it was essentially a provincial college for the wealthy. Its (note no apostrophe) true worth as an educational institution came later, though it's (note apostrophe) not a given that a degree from Hhvhd guarantees one employment in scriptwriting.

At 10:27 PM , Blogger KarbonKountyMoos said...

oh no - the anonymous apostrophe police strikes!

Here's a site for you.

At 11:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't Panic.

I sure did. LOL I went to read this blog and it wasn't here. "No such blog." EEEK!

I've been reading since September just for fun. No way did I think I was addicted. Guess what...I would miss you if you left.

I'm glad it was just a glitch. Keep on writing. :)


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