Some Thoughts On Self-Reliance From Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“My life is not an apology, but a life. It is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Some Thoughts On Self-Reliance From Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Speak what you think today in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have included a book review on Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Some Thoughts About Kindness From Various Authors

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can here and the blind can see.”
Mark Twain
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
Lao Tzu

More Books That I Have Read In 2014

Back on March 28th, 2014 I did a post on book that I have read thus far. I have had a Malcolm Gladwell time since the end of March and I have read these books:

David And Goliath     Malcolm Gladwell

Emerson: The Mind On Fire     Robert D. Richardson

Blink     Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point     Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers     Malcolm Gladwell

And I am currently reading:

Capital In The Twenty First Century     Thomas Piketty

I must say that I enjoyed rereading Emerson: The Mind On Fire the most and the best in my opinion of Malcolm Gladwell’s books was Outliers. I am in the middle of Capital In The Twenty First Century and not being an economist or even an economics major, I find this to be a very stimulating book thus far and easy to digest. I have also read What The Dog Saw by Gladwell when it first came out and I would recommend it as the first book to read of Gladwell’s so you get a taste of the author.

Finished Reading: Emerson: The Mind On Fire By Robert D. Richardson Jr.

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As I have stated earlier, This book is one of the best biographies and memoirs that I have ever read. As I was getting near the end of the book, I started thinking back on what a complex man that Emerson was. Richardson did a tremendous job in examining Emerson’s relationships with close friends, men, women and even acquaintances. Emerson was a man that was hard to pin down in understanding his emotions when he was placed in a difficult position.

On page 545, I ran across this paragraph which puts things in perspective in analyzing Emerson.

“The impression that there were two Emersons never quite goes away. James Russell Lowell discerned a dreamy seer living alongside a practical Yankee. Bliss Perry thought the two sides were physically reflected in the two quite different sides of Emerson’s face. Alfred Kazin is nearer the mark when he speaks of a private self concealed behind the public Emerson, a lower-case person who continually made discoveries that the upper-case Emerson could use. Emerson’s own sense of this crops out in his talk about his daemon and his attribution of certain home truths to ‘Guy’ or ‘Osman’. By the late 1850’s a third and new layer of complexity emerged in Emersons’s life. He was fast becoming an institution—his own lengthened shadow—and this growing reputation now preceded both the public and the private Emerson wherever he went.”

This paragraph made me consider: did Emerson really have a public side and a private side? As I think back on what I read, I realize that I believe that he did. Richardson laid it out wonderfully in how Emerson and his relationships at home and through his correspondence were totally in character with that private side and not wanting to give too much of himself unless he felt protected.

As Emerson became older, his public side became more uninhibited, in my opinion, in how he handled issues such as abolition, the Civil War, and his views on religion. He was more outspoken and not as guarded as his private side in dealing with female friends for example. As I think on this book somemore, I will add some other thoughts.

Currently Reading: Emerson: The Mind On Fire By Robert D. Richardson Jr.

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Emerson: The Mind On Fire by Robert D. Richardson Jr. is a gem in the category of biographies and memoirs. I have read this book through three times and I am discovering more in each read through.

Richardson impresses me with the depth of his research and delving in to the mind of Emerson and even all the family, friends, and acquaintances. There is no speculation in the author’s approach but a deep understanding about Emerson, his personality and even the time period of the 19th century.

The thing that keeps me coming back to this work is Emerson’s readings of so many different works and the effect it had on his life and how it shaped his thought and his writing in his essays such as Self-Reliance, History and The Divinity School Address.

One of my favorite chapters is on Jones Very and how Richardson describes Very as one of the greatest writer of sonnets in the nineteenth century along with Longfellow. In six pages, I felt as if I knew Very intimately and knew all about his eccentricities. His powerful religious experience was given in detail and this I really loved because it explained how others outside the scope of the Emerson family handled it.

I love this excerpt from page 305 from Very’s biographer:

“Christ is in every man, not only in Jones Very, and needs only to be set free in them, as He had already been set free in himself. The Second Advent consists in the freeing of Christ. Therefore the Second Advent could be brought about, even in Emerson—provided he agree to follow the directions of John the Baptist as he (Very) interpreted them.”

Each and every chapter contains exhaustive research about Emerson and gives us in my opinion one of the greatest biographies that I have had the pleasure to read. It is one book that I will come back to time and time again.

 

Currently Reading: Emerson: The Mind On Fire By Robert D. Richardson, Jr.

 

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As I have said earlier, I have read this book three times previously but I rand across a paragraph I wanted to share with you from page 173:

“Along with Emerson’s freedom to take whatever struck him went the important obligation to ignore what did not. Emerson read widely and advised others to do so, but he was insistent about the dangers of being overwhelmed and overinfluenced  by one’s reading. ‘Do not attempt to be a great reader,’ he told a young Williams College student named Charles Woodbury. ‘ Read for facts and not by the bookful.’ He thought one should ‘learn to divine books, to feel those that you want without wasting much time on them.’ It is only worthwhile concentrating on what is excellent and for that ‘often a chapter is enough.’ He encourages browsing and skipping. ‘The glance reveals what the gaze obscures. Somewhere the author has hidden the message. Find it, and skip the paragraphs that do not talk to you.’

I believe this to be an excellent definition of syntopical reading as we have discussed in previous posts.