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but i feel from your conversation that i have lost your confidence - and therefore you don ' t want me to go there .
परन्तु आपकी बातचीत से मुझे ऐसा लगता है कि मैंने आपका विश्वास खो दिया है और इसलिए आप नहीं चाहते कि मैं वहां लाहौर जाऊं ।
Dernière mise à jour : 2020-05-24
Fréquence d'utilisation : 1
emerson said, toward the end of his writing career, "i have taught one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man." that's why we begin our study of american transcendentalism with this essay. his basic philosophical faith (one shared by many americans) is that the ultimate source of truth is within ourselves. we recognize truth outside ourselves, in nature or in others, and the key word here is "recognize," even if only very dimly. we are often not "in touch" with ourselves or trust ourselves enough to find these truths and so must often depend on others, books, etc. to express it for us, but it is somehow within us. now, there's no particular empirical evidence for this; emerson is making a great intuitive leap of faith, and you either believe (because you've experienced it to some degree) or you don't. it is this concept of what some critics call the "imperial self" which lies at the heart of romanticism, both positively and negatively. however, this is not necessarily self-centered, because the truth which lies within is universal, shared and recognized by all (if they only knew it) and generated by self (god, over-soul, whatever). all we can really know is within us, but we must assume that other people have the same potential as we do--and assume that they do, in fact, exist (although you really can't prove it!) presumably, trusting oneself means much more than that; it means trusting that somehow or other we have an innate wisdom which is a projection of the god within, and that every person has that wisdom, although few have much access to it. those few we often call poets and prophets (but never politicians!) and we cherish the insights into our own truths that we glimpse through them. theoretically, then, to believe in our selves and our deep capacity to understand and recognize truths is to believe in every self, though we have no access to any other self besides us. practically it may be another matter, but emerson is a bit of an idealist and not terribly practical (we can't all be everything!) one characteristic of emerson's essays is the gaps he leaves the reader to fill (or to flounder in); it is probably their greatest strength (because you may personalize what you read) and greatest weakness (it can be confusing). for example, at the beginning of the essay he speaks of verses he has read which are original, but he does not tell you what those verses are. you have to imagine what "original" might be. his emphasis is not on these particular verses, or even the definition of originality in poetry, but a discussion on originality and recognizing your own ability to be original and not imitative. after all, he can't say what would be original for you, could he? but he wants you to imagine what that might be. this will happen repeatedly through the essay. try your best to fill those blanks in ways that make sense to you and your experience, and if you can't, ignore them and keep going. one problem you may find with this essay is that you feel that he is hitting you over the head with the same idea over and over, like a big hammer labeled "believe in yourself." i'm sure you wished to cry out, "ok ralphie, i've got it, i've got it!" he makes sure that you consider the implications of this idea in every way possible. it doesn't matter if there are gaps in what you understand; he'll catch up with you somewhere or other in the essay. a little overkill, perhaps. why? whom is he trying to convince? perhaps himself as well as his reader. but the message seems to be one that we all need, especially today when the ever-present media assaults us with ideas and images of how we should live and what we should believe. remember that we are reading this 150 years later or so. what seemed like a rather novel idea then has deteriorated into a cliche, embedded in just about every self-help "psychology" book in the local mall bookstore that you can find. it is hard for us to see the original force of this in 1838, when people felt far less secure about themselves, as individuals and as americans (whatever that was). in many ways, this is as much a cultural/intellectual declaration of independence as it is an exhortation to believe in yourself. its major power today is probably directed toward the younger reader, struggling with the very powerful forces toward conformity that seem endemic in american high schools. however, it also works in a class like this, where i am, in a sense, forcing you to express your ideas and not giving you such an easy way out as taking notes on what wisdom i might have to impart. emerson had his own personal reasons for writing this. he was deeply insecure in many ways (aren't we all?), and a rather revolutionary speech about religion that he delivered at the harvard divinity school about this time (asserting the doctrine of the god within) caused a tremendous uproar and criticism from people he respected. there would be no job for him at harvard! he had left the ministry a few years earlier and had lost his young wife to tuberculosis after 18 months of marriage. he didn't really have a career at that point; he just had the ideas he believed passionately and thought needed to be heard. he was involved in a very deep career crisis (which many of us can relate to). there simply was no way to earn a living doing what his heart told him that he must do--to write and to speak. except, as it turned out, there were ways to realize his dream, as long as he didn't lose his faith in himself. the rhetoric of this essay shows signs of his years in the pulpit; it's like he's demanding you to listen and to go out and act. but he may well be exhorting himself just as much as, if not more than, his readers. what he wanted to do--to establish himself a place as a writer and thinker--was extraordinarily difficult to do outside of an institution like the church or the university (so what else has changed!), and it would take all the nerve he could summon. and after all, he was no kid; he was 35 years old and counting. it all sounds so simple: just make up your mind to trust your deepest instincts and go for it! i know it isn't that simple--and in fact, so did emerson, and seeing the problems inherent in such a personally energizing idea kept him busy writing for some time. if you look carefully, you can see some awareness of this conflict in the essay, but it doesn't really blossom forth for a while. for one thing, he gives a lot of credit to innate goodness, and almost totally ignores the very crucial environmental shaping factors. he and his readers were raised in an extremely "moral" environment, and though they might rebel against church doctrine, they were deeply "indoctrinated" with those moral codes. this is not necessarily the case in the "murder capital of the world"! another problem is the extreme "masculinity" of the essay--one of his favorite words is "manliness." i can just visualize this very assertive and muscular male as an underlying ideal (was emerson insecure about that too? probably, since writers/thinkers/preachers were considered rather feminized by his society, unlike those competitive, money-making businessmen so idealized by his compatriots.) i don't believe that self-trust is a male-marked trait, although i suspect that he does believe it (though, bless his heart, he doesn't really know it!). i know, i'm reading this from my own perspective, but as emerson would say, isn't that the only way you can read? actually, i think you can try to place yourself in another context, but that must be a work of imagination to some degree (i can try, anyhow; i'll just substitute woman for man and you can do whatever you like!) emerson doesn't just keep preaching the same doctrine though, you may be relieved to hear, or at least not with the same simplistic fervour. there is a flip side to this: as exciting and energizing it may be to follow your deepest instincts and do/say what you think is right, it's also depressing to think that maybe all we can know is what is within us. in a sense, we may be imprisoned within our own perceptions and experiences, and can never really know what might be true. we can't even be sure if anyone or anything else exists, because all we can know is what's in our little individual heads. emerson will come to see this, as well as the many limitations on our power that are imposed by circumstances and environment, which he calls fate. he gets a lot more interesting when he confronts these conflicting forces. wouldn't it be nice if all we had to do is "trust ourselves" and follow our own stars? actually, it's rather amazing what people can accomplish if they do just that. however, that's not the whole story, and emerson knew it, especially after life dealt him a few more tough blows--like his beloved 5 year old son dying of scarlet fever. self-reliance can look like a pretty puny doctrine in light of a tragedy like that, but it did sustain him (although perhaps in a modified form).. so the important thing is not whether emerson is right or wrong here. he's both--and we are to draw from the essay what means the most to us. that's one reason it's written as it is. buried in there are sentences which strike right to the heart of readers, and suggest all kinds of possibilities for them. for example, many students trying to see their way ahead in life have found great comfort in this metaphor: the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. see the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. you could interpret this in several ways. when you look at your life, especially when you are young, if you follow your "inner gyroscope" and do things and take courses that just "feel right," it might look to others (parents in particular) as if you just can't make up your mind and are zigzagging all over the place. the coherence will be an inner one, perhaps not even visible to you, but over time, it will probably make sense, just as you have to zigzag when sailing to reach a point most directly. one difference, of course, is that you (unlike the sailor) often haven't a clue where or what that "point" might be, and have to trust that by following your instincts and strengths, you'll actually reach some kind of point. i find that rather profound, as i look at my own life, and the decisions that i made that didn't make a lot of sense, perhaps, to others and seemed inconsistent, but that were in fact quite consistent with who i was and what i wanted to be, although i hadn't a clue what that might be (i never dreamed i'd end up teaching, etc.!) ok, that's my personal testimony (although i'll admit, i cruised past that passage when i was in college and needed to read it most)--you'll have your own, i imagine. if you'll be patient with emerson (and his vocabulary and greater reading knowledge), he is likely to speak very personally to you, if not on this reading then maybe on another. besides, just think of all the money you can save on those self-help books and therapy groups by going right to the source! ;
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Dernière mise à jour : 2015-05-24
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