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.

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