lunes, 28 de enero de 2013
TRANSCENDENTALISM FOR TIMES OF CRISIS
I am kind of ashamed to say that when I was a student of Filología Inglesa years ago now, I never had a chance to read the American Transcendentalists.
It was later during a stay abroad in the US that I started to become acquainted with 19th century American Literature. But I really got to enjoy them as I had to teach a course about this subject in the new Modern Languages and Literatures Degree.
My colleagues had warned me that it was a impossible to make students read these texts, yet I discovered that they -and I- enjoted them immensely!. But this year , as I face a new position as Head of Department, they even make more sense to me. Obviously, Transcendentalism makes more sense for people who are believers -of whatever faith-´who think that everything does not end in this world and that there is "a Beyond," but they appeal to everybody at these times of crisis when we need to believe that there is a sense in doing what we have to do in life. Anyway, I here are some of my favourite sentences:
From "Self-Reliance" by R.W. Emerson:
"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people think."
"Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself."
"Whoso would be a man, must be a non-comformist."
"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself."
"A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages."
"Live ever in a new day. Trust your emotion."
"Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life."
From "The American Scholar":
"The one thing in the world of value is the active soul"
...genius looks forward: the eyes of man are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead: man hopes: genius creates. Whatever talents may be, if the man create not, the pure efflux of Dei
And so on... and also see how much in current American culture and politics comes from the thought of these philosophers, writers, lovers of Nature who dreamed about creating a new Nation and a new Man. See for example, Steve Job's Stanford University Address and you will see abundant connections with The American Scholars.
Read Emerson's essays on the Gutenberg Project Site: