Thursday, November 14, 2019

Emerson, Melville and Whitman :: Free Essay Writer

The way I view the world has been greatly affected by my reading this semester. Thought I had read Emerson and Melville before, I never before was able to sound the depths of their work and fully appreciate it. This semester was my first real exposure to Whitman, as well. The best analogy for my new outlook is an image of the universe as a yin-yang; it is a complete, unbroken whole within which two polar opposites are constantly in conflict. But more significantly I have taken to heart the doctrine of "Self-Reliance," which is one shared by all three authors. Emerson presents a different system of learning than I had ever encountered. Throughout my previous education, I was taught to learn whatever was in the book. The only place original thought was accepted was in occasional creative writing assignments, and even then a stylistic formula was required. The sentence from "Self-Reliance," "A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages." was a completely new idea to me. My mind originally dismissed the concept from his journals that "The dead sleep in their moonless night; my business is with the living. . . ." But on further reflection, it made sense. Self-reliance is an intimidating concept. Students are taught to externally justify any position we take. If we make a thesis statement we must find support for it in the crumbling stacks of the library. Yet in the end I have found that self-reliance is the most satisfying way t o grapple with life. Melville frequently supports these ideas in his writing. When Ishmael encounters the whale skeleton that a tribe of islanders have elevated to the status of a god, he demonstrates the gravity one should grant to others' ideas of religion: "Cutting me a green measuring-rod, I once more dived within the skeleton. From their arrow-slit in the skull, the priests perceived me taking the altitude of the final rib. 'How now!' they shouted; 'Dar'st thou measure this our god! That's for us.' 'Aye, priests—well, how long do ye make him, then?' But hereupon a fierce contest rose among them, concerning feet and inches; they cracked each other's sconces with their yard-sticks—the great skull echoed—and seizing that lucky chance, I quickly concluded my own admeasurements.

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