Monday, January 31, 2011


Everything feels disconnected.
I feel like the brachiosaurus when I want to be the raptor.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

our sphere is not the only way

I took notes in class while we were discussing Hawthorne's "The Minister's Black Veil", and one of the things I wrote down was "there is no meaning in anything. Meaning is a human perception and way to find/create order." In The American Scholar Emerson says "what is classification but the perceiving that these objects are not chaotic, and are not foreign, but have a law which is also a law of the human mind?" Nature is man's perception of it.

If a person does not have a 'concrete' meaning or explanation for something, their minds will germinate into knots trying to figure out an explanation, and will not stop until the sturdy tree of explanation is found to rest under. But, not everything needs an explanation, and that concept is very hard to grasp sometimes, because as humans, we fear the unknown. In "The Minister's Black Veil", the parishioners allowed themselves to live a life of dis-ease because of the obsession of what Father Hooper's veil might mean. I understand how Father Hooper might be considered a villain, and how as a pastor he shouldn't have necessarily brought this gloom onto his parishioners, but ultimately it was they themselves who allowed the gloom to linger. It's a situation of mind over matter. A person's life is what that person makes of it, how that person deals with the cards dealt. Also, Father Hooper's donning the veil at a whim, with whatever notion he had, and with whatever time-span he intended it to be, it eventually grew into this permanent exiling burden that defined the rest of his life. It was the idea, the principle, the lesson, that he felt he could not deter from or go back on. But I was told that it is okay to contradict yourself.

In Hawthorne's "The Birth Mark," Alymer allowed his thoughts to wander about Georgina's birthmark. In his mind, the birthmark went from a mark on the surface, to a terrible gash deep within. The story says "selecting it [the birthmark] as the symbol of his wife's liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and death, Alymer's somber imagination was not long in rendering the birth-mark a frightful object…" In the beginning, Georgina loved her mark, but because of Alymer's feelings towards it, she began to detest it as much as he did; and eventually, his imagination wondering what it might 'mean' wandered into dangerous territory, which eventually led to her death.

The human mind is a very powerful thing, and I believe that we can eventually convince ourselves that anything is true. I was in Wyoming, walking down the Granite Canyon trail, in the Grand Teton Mountain range; all around me were huge mountains, lush green shrubbery, a clear blue creek, and a pale blue sky overhead. I was so overwhelmed that I felt the need to thank something or some One. Then, it suddenly hit me; I realized that this is how it must have started long long ago, before religion and the belief in a creator. The immense and tantalizing landscape calls forth in humans the demand for an explanation. This beauty could not just be, it had to have been made; but by whom or what? And so, with our great imaginations, we began to ponder and to find "clues" that led us to many explanations.

When a seed is planted, it will sprout and germinate, and can sometimes grow into a huge, seemingly immovable tree. The tree means we've found an explanation. Eventually having the tree will force us to forget about other trees (or possibilities), and that one seed becomes fact. From this "fact" we form habits and everlasting traditions. In "The Great Lawsuit," Fuller phrases it as "the slavery of habit." We contain ourselves in a "sphere" and forget that the present way is not the only way.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


It's a new quarter and I have new classes. One of which is an American Literature class. I'm super excited about it. We have to write response papers every week on what we read, soooo I'll probably be posting those here. I'm just going to pretend that everyone wants to know what I think. we go, and I know it's a bit hypocritical because I'm utilizing technology as we speak to type and post it. But, everyone is a little hypocritical.

Emerson touched on a subject that I continually see in the world today. In his essay, Self-Reliance, he stated, "The civilized man has built a couch, but has lost the use of his feet…" People are extremely dependent upon their inventions and if left without most of them they would be left in a complete stupor, or even fail to survive. We have become so immersed in the convenient life, so fascinated by producing actions by the click of a button, or without the use of hands that we have lost the ability to use our inherent tools, our body and mind, to complete a task. What saddens me the most is the lack in use of our mind. In the same paragraph, Emerson also stated "notebooks impair his memory…," but today it isn't even the notebook, because it's now rare for people to write anything by hand. We have computers that allow us to send our notes to any device anywhere in the world in a split second. We have phones that instantly remind us what to do, when, where, and why if we want them to. Therefore, our brain realizes it doesn't have to work so hard to remember, so it forgets.
That reminds me of a lecture I listened to on, given by the author Douglas Adams, called Parrots, the Universe and Everything. He tells the story of the kakapo. The kakapo is a large now-flightless parrot, native to New Zealand. At first, the kakapo had no predators; therefore, it had no need to worry or fly, so eventually he lost his ability to fly. Before the Europeans arrived, the kakapo species flourished. But the Europeans introduced rats, dogs, cats, and other predators of the kakapo. But, because the kakapo was new to the idea of something wanting to eat him, he did not run away, and even if he wanted to, he could not fly away. Rapidly, the population of the kakapo dropped from somewhere in the hundreds of thousands to the low forties.
I think that this story says something similar to what Emerson is touching on. Because of convenience, we lose the abilities we would otherwise have, and eventually something might come in defiance of our convenience, and we will be left helpless with no ability to provide for or protect ourselves.
Earlier in Self-Reliance, Emerson states, "Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members." We think we are enhancing and advancing our civilization by providing these new tools and gadgets that do everything we can think to make them do; we believe that these new high-tech tools give us power and superiority. But in reality, these tools are only hurting us in the long run. They are making us lazy, overweight, and dumb. Instead of power, they are making us weak.
In Emerson's The American Scholar, he quotes the proverb, "He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry out the wealth of the Indies." In the context of today, it might read, "He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must get a crane, an airplane, and higher others to carry the wealth of the Indies."
Today, it's rare for someone to rely on themselves, without the use of technology. But because we are so engulfed in it and some of us have never lived without it, it's hard to understand how life could be possible without it. But life is very possible without it, and I think that it's important for us to put ourselves in the situation of not having our treasured technology and conveniences, and understand how to survive without it, in case one day it is compromised.