Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Circles and Experience

Ran two miles.

Wrote 1,000 more words on the critical piece (now at 4,300).

Bought more books.

Read this (for my response, see here) and this (my response here).

And listened to the third of Arnold Weinstein's three lectures on Emerson: "Emerson Tomorrow—Deconstructing Culture and Self." A lot of food for thought. Great Emerson quote: "Our moods do not believe in each other." From the notes: "Emerson's first law is simple and awful: we are dispossessed, of both self and home. There is no 'natural' abode for the self; our somatic and affective lives have a weird independence, an 'otherness' beyond our control." I enjoyed the connection between this discontinuity and Existentialism.

Emerson's discussion of the "shallowness" of grief in particular and temperament in general is truly remarkable, tied as it is to the death of his son:

"The only thing grief has taught me, is to know how shallow it is. That, like all the rest, plays about the surface, and never introduces me into the reality, for contact with which, we would even pay the costly price of sons and lovers. Was it Boscovich who found out that bodies never come in contact? Well, souls never touch their objects. An innavigable sea washes with silent waves between us and the things we aim at and converse with. Grief too will make us idealists. In the death of my son, now more than two years ago, I seem to have lost a beautiful estate, -- no more. I cannot get it nearer to me. If tomorrow I should be informed of the bankruptcy of my principal debtors, the loss of my property would be a great inconvenience to me, perhaps, for many years; but it would leave me as it found me, -- neither better nor worse. So is it with this calamity: it does not touch me: some thing which I fancied was a part of me, which could not be torn away without tearing me, nor enlarged without enriching me, falls off from me, and leaves no scar. It was caducous. I grieve that grief can teach me nothing, nor carry me one step into real nature." (Emerson, "Experience")
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