The Blue Raccoon

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ralph Waldo Emerson Was A Blogger

Billion-eyed audience, do this thing for yourself. When’s the last time you read anything by Ralph Waldo Emerson? High school, maybe, I’m guessing. You think he’s archaic and trite and what possible lesson could that fusty old ex-Unitarian impart upon me?

Maybe nothing. But just – shut up for a minute, OK? Sheesh. Blogger know-it-alls; bloggists, bloggeurs....

So, here’s what I’m saying. Humor me. Or even humour me, any of the Anglophile viewers. You need to take a pause that refreshes. You know you do. Go here, print out Self-Reliance, and if you’ve been following this blog in the past weeks, read the piece within the swirling context of events. You may find some prescient statements. Or you may take exception to their application. That’s fine, too. Look, it’s not like I’m asking you to read a chapter out of Atlas Shrugged.

I’m saying: pour yourself two fingers of whatever it is that you pour when you pour yourself two fingers. And you may need an additional two fingers of what you pour, about mid-way in, because the essay is long and requires careful reading. Still, even if you graze and skim there’s plenty to engage your wit.

Now, OK. I’ll give this to you. No, scratch that. Here’s what I know. You’ll read this and maybe you’ll experience individual lines that are pertinent, or amusing, or irrelevant. But give it a go. One chance for ole’ Ralph, is all I’m asking. He’s speaking to from across clouded consciousnesses and centuries of accreted dust with a voice as vital as yours.

Now, sit under a cooling breeze in a comfortable chair, and perhaps under fair natural light, let these words seep into you as though for the first time.

Now, you, who are cynical or even throwing nihilistic shade may think, and with acknowledged justification, that the next commercial may tell you more about the world than some dried up 19th century New England philosophe. And you may have your point, other than the one on your head.

By the way, yes, this is inspired by something. Art I saw last night, which I’ll explain.

Come back here later, and I’ll have other stuff for you; then come back again, and I’ll have more.

P.S. Full disclosure: In my sophomore year --um, 1978-ish, at Chester, Va.'s Thomas Dale HighSchool (when it didn't look like this), I was cast in The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail. I portrayed jailer Sam Staples as a key-burdened doddering rube, in an over-the-top manner that got plenty of laughs from the cheap seats. Bryan Thomas played Waldo, and Lance Faggert (his real name--which he later changed to I don't know what---demonstrating how tough Emerson's preachments are to make work in real life), was Thoreau, wearing as I recall a less-flamboyant precursor of the "puffy shirt."

And, you know, Thoreau spent just two weeks in the woods and could walk home every night. But he turned down that exec position in the family pencil factory.

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