Tuesday, May 4, 2010

IB Art Paintings

Senior Reflection: Every Story Has An End

“I could tell it was going to be a terrible, no good, very bad day.”
From a very young age, reading has been a very large, intrinsic part of my life. As a young child, my mom would read bedtime stories to me every night, without fail. My favorite book was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. My mom says that she read it so often that to this day she could recite parts from heart. This particular book and the bedtime reading in general opened me up to the joy of reading, and it is still my favorite vice.
“Siddhartha a spiritual pilgrim is consumed by his quest for spiritual enlightenment.”
As a senior in high school, on the brink of graduation, it amazes me to reflect on my literacy. I’ve improved greatly in my writing, reading, and oratory skills. Reading has immensely affected my writing ability. As I read different literature, be it for my English class or on a lazy day, I tend to impart the writing style of the author. This can be seen through my piece, “The River Speaks Om.” In this piece, I tried to incorporate Hesse’s minimalistic writing style. Although I tried to incorporate this style, I still wasn’t able to fully omit my personal style.
“I said I was being scrunched. I said I was being smushed. I said if I don’t get a seat by the window I am going to be carsick. No one even answered.”
Beginning kindergarten I was able to read quite well, even if I did write two inches high. I remember feeling on top of the world when we would have to read in class when the other kids struggled. I was always an overachiever. I’m confident that my early start influenced my growth, along with some of the best teachers in the world.
“This exposure to the river as a young man was the foundation of the message sent to Siddhartha by the river; the unity of all things”
My vocabulary, sentence structure, and writing style can all be attributed to the literature I have read. I did not always maintain an affluent interest in reading. Throughout my middle school years, I detested reading because of the books that we were forced to read; they were well below my level, so I lost my previous enthusiasm. In ninth grade, we would have reading time. At first, I was reluctant, but so was my teacher on allowing us to give up. I stumbled upon Looking for Alaska. This book remains a cherished favorite of mine. Not only was it appealing to my age, but the protagonist, my kindred spirit. I have taken so much from this book that it is unimaginable to not have read. My favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut’s literature was mentioned frequently in the book, and described so sublime that I had to read his works. Instantly I was hooked, and am so grateful to uncover such a good read. That book allowed me to discover so much amazing literature that it is improbable to elaborate further.

“At singing time she said I sang too loud. At counting time she said I left out sixteen. Who needs sixteen? I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
Although I had no problem reading, my oratory skills were remote. My shy nature kept me from advancing in this area. To this day, I have a problem with public speaking; shaking, sweating, stuttering. My writing skills are also an area in which I have lacked. I hadn’t come to this realization until high school, particularly my junior year. My amazing writing teacher offered constructive and sometimes harsh criticism. This criticism allowed me to grow as a writer. For the class we kept composition notebooks for our writing assignments. I enjoyed this assignment because I had always been reluctant to write as I didn’t hold much confidence, and this forced me to write. The assignment allowed me to express myself, and helped me learn to analyze what I read; a much needed skill for college. When I began my first comp book, my thoughts were scattered, I lacked an intelligent vocabulary and my sentences were simpler. Now, just over a year later, my writing maintains some structure, and I have learned to use a variety of sentences, and have gained a much needed vocabulary.
“Siddhartha reveals a strong notion, in which he must gain experience himself in order to find his Self.”
Over the past twelve years I have gained an unaccountable amount of knowledge, but there is always room for improvement. Personal goals that I have set for myself over the years regarding literacy include; finishing my life’s library, further enlarging my vocabulary (without the use of a thesaurus,) improving oratory skills, becoming fluent in a second language, and correct grammar usage.
My life’s library is a notion put forward by Alaska. It is literally my own personal library, full of many great books, those I have read numerous times and those I have yet to read. I began this goal in ninth grade, and have come far by adopting old books; being put to good use. I may never fully attain this goal as I come to the realization as I will never own all of the ‘great’ novels the world has to offer, but I’m sure I’ll be satisfied at the end.
“It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that…even in Australia.”
I hope to continue my journey with literacy for the rest of my educational career. College is just months away and I’m sure that I’ll face many of the similar struggles that I have throughout my schooling. I’m confident that I can overcome these, just as I have in the past. I’m coming to a close of this chapter of my life, with great happenings upon the horizon. It has been a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day. I have heard that some days are like that… even in Florida.

World Lit Two: The River Speaks Om

Siddhartha, a spiritual pilgrim, is consumed by his quest for spiritual enlightenment. This quest leads him to experience many different ways of life. Siddhartha’s relentless soul allows him to fail many times, and to continue on until he is able to reach his ultimate goal: transcendent understanding. On the many paths that Siddhartha journeys, he comes upon a river. The river proves importance throughout the novel. The symbol of the river is one of eternal life. The river is continuous representing the cycle of life, as well as the cycle of Samsara.
Siddhartha comes upon the river several times throughout the novel, and each time that he approaches the river, he views it in a different light. Every encounter that Siddhartha has with the river signifies a new period in the man's life.
In the beginning of the novel, Siddhartha was very much involved with the river. He lives "in the sunshine of the river bank by the boats." The exposure to the river as a young man was the foundation of the message sent to Siddhartha by the river; the unity of all things.
Siddhartha, born the son of a wealthy Brahmin, leaves this life to join the Samanas. He departs after he believes that he has attained all of the knowledge that his father can provide. The questions he has about his existence cannot be answered among the Brahmins. With the Samanas, he learns how to free himself from the traditional trappings of life, and loses his desire for property, clothing, sexuality, and all sustenance except that required to live. Dissatisfied with the teachings of the Samanas, Siddhartha realizes that the faith in Buddhism cannot provide him with the answers to existence that he yearns for. Siddhartha reveals a strong notion, in which he must gain experience himself in order to find his Self.
Beginning his search for the meaning of life, he embarks on a journey to a new life, free from meditation and spiritual quests. Along this journey, Siddhartha encounters a friendly ferryman, content with his simple life. The ferryman leads Siddhartha across the river, onto his new life. The ferryman proves important as the novel progresses, since he has attained enlightenment. While taking Siddhartha across the river he speaks that one can learn much from a river, "I love it above everything. I have often listened to it, gazed at it, and I have always learned something from it." This conversation between the ferryman and Siddhartha shows foreshadowing in the novel, for later Siddhartha will return to the river, as a student. “I have learned that from the river too; everything comes back. You too, Samana, will come back." The ferryman also tells of the symbolism of the river, in which the river symbolizes the cycle of life, and the concept of the passage of time. The ferryman's wise words are not heard by Siddhartha yet, as he will realize, "one cannot learn wisdom from words." Siddhartha's initial encounter with the ferryman at the river proves importance as it separates the two sides of Siddhartha's persona. One side of the river is his spiritual side, with Govinda, the Brahmins, and the Samanas. The other side is his life of materialism, and his sensual side with Kamala, and Kamaswami. The middle of the river symbolizes the intermediary between the two extreme sides of Siddhartha's personality.

Many teachers of wisdom appear in the novel, but each fails to lead him to enlightenment. The ferryman, however, shows Siddhartha how to find enlightenment within oneself. When Siddhartha first approaches the river, he views it simply as a beautiful obstacle in w ay of his new life. The river symbolizes the path to enlightenment for Siddhartha. The ferryman points Siddhartha in the right direction, acting as an intermediate between Siddhartha, and his final instructor, the river.
"For a long time Siddhartha had lived the life o f the world without belonging to it. His senses, which he h ad deadened during his ardent Samana years, were again awakened." The transition into the world of materialism has transformed Siddhartha; the world around him has seeped into his soul, "made it heavy, made it tired, and sent it to sleep." This transition awakened his senses, they learned a great deal, experienced a great deal. During the years Siddhartha spent with Kamala in the world of materialism, he grew tired. "The bright and clear inward voice that had once awakened in him and had always guided him in his finest hours had become silent." Realizing that the reliance he has with the material world and material good is deteriorating his true Self, Siddhartha goes to the river to gain solace. "It seemed to him that he had spent a life in a worthless and senseless manner; he retained nothing vital, nothing in any way precious or worthwhile. He stood alone, like a shipwrecked man on the shore.”
Returning to the river for a second time, Siddhartha immersed in the water, hears a sound. The river, a symbol as life itself, provides knowledge without words. "It was one word, one syllable;" the holy Om. Hearing the sound of Om, Siddhartha's slumbering soul suddenly became awakened. The sounds that the river produces, suggests the sounds of all things living. The sound saves Siddhartha from his previous materialistic life, from his desires of modem conveniences and pleasure. Encountering the river, Siddhartha experiences a renewal on life. The river provides him with rebirth, "The past now seemed to him to be covered with a veil, extremely remote, very unimportant. At the moment of his return to consciousness his previous life seemed to him like a remote reincarnation, like an earlier birth of his present self. "
The river symbolizing the path to enlightenment for Siddhartha awakened him to a newfound happiness which he had yet to experience. "Never had a river attracted him so much as this one. Never had he found the voice and appearance of flowing water so beautiful. It seemed to him that the river had something special to tell him, something which he did not know, something which still awaited him... The new Siddhartha felt a deep love for this flowing water and decided that he would not leave it again so quickly." The change that has overcome Siddhartha signals a new beginning for him, and ultimately the last journey he will ever go upon. Hearing the river’s voice, he makes a decision to stay near, to observe the river, and to attain its wisdom. It seems to him that whoever understood this river and its secrets would understand much more, many secrets, all secrets. He goes to find the ferryman he once crossed paths with, to start him new life from there, as he did before. Siddhartha believed that the wise ferryman would provide him with the many answers of this river.
Encountering the ferryman many years later, the ferryman recognizes Siddhartha as the young Samana he was once. Recounting that he knew Siddhartha would return again, he introduces himself as Vasudeva, and invites him to stay near the river. Siddhartha gracefully accepted the offer, a change has come over him. Siddhartha has not come to the river as a mere passerby as before, he no longer views the river as an obstacle. Confessing to Vasudeva the voice he had heard from the river, Vasudeva guides Siddhartha to learn from the river as he had, "You will learn it, but not from me. The river has taught me to listen; you will learn from it, too. The river knows everything; one can learn everything from it. You have already learned from the river that it is good to strive downwards, to sink, to seek the depths." Studying the river for many years, Vasudeva helps Siddhartha how to learn from the river. Vasudeva, although not a direct teacher for Siddhartha, proves an external guide. He never confides in him the secrets of the river, but instead guides him on how to attain these. "He learned more from the river than Vasudeva could ever teach him. He learned from it continually. Above all, he learned how to listen, to listen with a still heart, with a waiting, open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgment, without opinions
In deep contemplation of the river, Siddhartha learns the concept of time; that there is no such thing as time. The river symbolizes the passage of time. The flow of the river, as well as the fact that the water is perpetually returning suggests the nature of time. "The river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the pas t, nor the shadow of the future." This discovery had a profound impact on Siddhartha, and he reviewed his life as a river, continually renewing, in which "nothing was, and nothing will be, everything has reality and presence." Siddhartha learns that all forms of life are interconnected in a cycle without beginning or end. Birth and death are all part of a timeless unity. Everything that Siddhartha has experienced thus far; joy, sorrow, life, death, good, evil are all part of the whole and are necessary for him to understand the true meaning of life.
The river is undoubtedly the single most important symbol in the novel, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. Throughout the novel the river signifies a new period in Siddhartha's great life journey, symbolizing life itself, the passage of time, and the ultimate path to enlightenment. The river proves to be the intermediate between the two types of lifestyles Siddhartha pursues in his quest for enlightenment, as he goes back and forth across the river to each separate side. The river also symbolizes rebirth as Siddhartha's spirit is renewed as h e returns to the river for solace. Through the river, Siddhartha was able to achieve his ultimate goal, transcendent understanding of his Self.

World Literature One

Stage directions are a crucial component in plays as a literary technique used to give effect to the literary work in various aspects. Henrik Ibsen in A Doll House and Ariel Dorfmann in Death and the Maiden, both utilize stage directions to personify the women protagonists in their plays. Both authors use stage directions to support their overall themes, to add characterization to the women protagonists, to help structure the play using the varying stage directions, and the development of the plot and main women characters using stage directions within the plays.
A theme present with in Death and the Maiden similar to that of A Doll House is emotional freedom. The stage writing freedom that is present within Death and the Maiden reflects this theme of emotional freedom. This theme is noticed though dialogue, as well as stage directions. Ariel Dorfmann used similar techniques with stage directions in his Death and the Maiden. Unlike Ibsen's, Dorfmann does not use as rigid, very detailed stage directions. Instead, the stage directions are loose and add a sense of ambiguity. This allows the audience more freedom to interpret the characters personalities. In Act one of Death and the Maiden, an entire scene consists of stage directions. The scene is crucial to the play as it alludes to the evasive, unforthcoming attitude of Paulina. Dorfmann uses this scene to reinforce the secretiveness of Paulina's personality, "By the light of the moon she can be seen going to the drawer and taking out the gun, and some vague articles of clothing which appear to be stockings." This scene occurs in dim lighting, if not in complete darkness, which adds to the sense of ambiguity, also in complete silence except for a muffled sound of a cry. This scene is a turning point in the plot of the play, in which the audience is able to view Paulina dragging Roberto's limb body onto the stage, "Paulina leaves the house. We hear the sound of Roberto's car. When the car's headlights are turned on, they sweep the scene and that stark brutal shot of light clearly reveals Roberto Miranda tied with ropes to one of the c hairs, totally unconscious, and with his mouth gagged. The car leaves darkness."
Ibsen and Dorfmann use stage directions with particular detail to add characterization to the two strong female figures in the plays. Through this characterization the authors were able to achieve particular emotion, depth, and tone in the plays making the characters more real. This type of characterization allows the audience insight into the personality of the strong female figures, as well as allowing a certain sense of ambiguity. As mentioned previously, Nora's personality in A Doll House is both childlike and secretive. , especially towards her husband Torvald, reflecting their family values. By simply hearing the dialogue, the audience may be able to understand the personality of Nora, but the added gestures in stage directions help to give the audience a full description of Nora's true personality, and this understanding adds much meaning to the play that would have been lost. In A Doll House, actions within the stage directions show Nora being childlike and very secretive, as mentioned before. Nora is observed eating macaroons while Torvald is not present on stage, and in a hurried manner. In the stage directions, the audience is about to visualize how Nora is bothered by her "big secret," after Krogstad visits her for the first time. The stage directions play a large role in displaying Nora's anxiety. An example of this from the play is in one scene when Nora, trying to distract herself from her own thoughts, begins to embroider, but quickly throws the embroidery down and begins to move around frivolously. "She sits down on the couch, picks up apiece o f embroidery, makes a few stitches then stops. Throws the embroidery down and calls out."
In the play Death and the Maiden, the personality of Paulina comes to light through stage directions. In the opening act of the play, Paulina is introduced as sitting in a chair on the terrace of her beach house, at midnight. When a strange car approaches, Paulina hurriedly stands up, still hidden in the shadows and gets a gun. This description of the darkness and the gun allows the audience to begin to see that Paulina is paranoid, secretive, and possibly violent, all without her ever having said a word aloud.
In both plays, the length of the stage directions is noticeable. Ibsen uses many stage directions to help guide his play. Ibsen shows his style with this play, adding very detail and rigid stage direction^. The rigidness of the stage directions reflects upon Nora and Torvald's relationship. Through the play, the relationship of the two is one of m aster and pet. Torvald holds complete control of the naive Nor a, with her childlike personality. Torvald guides Nora in everything that she must do, as if Nora is a pet, or subservient to him.
Dorfmanns’ minimalism of stage directions rely heavily on sound clues rather than on sets shows his peculiar style, and allows for immense stage freedom. The sounds and lighting present in the play allow for an open stage, as well as for an open interpretation by the audience. An example of this is utilized in Act one scene three, "In half light... .We hear a confusing, muffled sound, followed by a sort of cry. Then silence." This bit of stage direction reinforces Dorfmann's style of ambiguity, and allows the audience to relate to real people and problems and to try to transmit the author's intentions through their emotions in order to engage the audience mentally.
Stage directions add to a play in numerous ways. During a play, like any other literary work, events generally happen over a certain period of time; hours, days, or even weeks. With a play consisting of only dialogue between characters, an understanding in an elapse in time is virtually impossible. The play A Doll House is over a few days, and this time period is made known throughout the stage directions. The Torvald's are celebrating Christmas, and in their culture, the celeb ration of Christmas continues for a few days. This celebration is known of not through the dialogue, but rather through directions and movements in the setting within the stage directions.
In the play Death and the Maiden, the stage directions are a crucial component to the understanding of an elapse in time within the play. In Death and the Maiden, the entire play is set over a two day period, with the exception to the ending. For this play, not having stage directions would completely diminish the value and understanding of the play, as well as an entire scene. In Act one scene three, the entire scene consists of only stage directions. In this scene, Paulina is described vividly to the audience as taking action, "In the half light we see her come out of the room. She goes back to her own bedroom door. She opens it, takes a key from the inside of the door, and locks it. She returns to the spare bedroom. We see her dragging something in, which resembles a body but we can't be sure. As the scene continues, it can be seen that it is a body." This bit of stage direction gives insight into Paulina's personality and grabs the reader's attention. Without the use of this stage direction, the reader would be clueless as to what had happened over night, and how Roberto had gotten tied up, as scene four opens up.
In both literary works, the plots development is crucial to the overall understanding of the play and the characters', whom the lives the play centers around. For both plays, the development of plot is not nearly as important as the development of the women protagonists within the play. Ibsen's Nora is developed from a child like girl, a possession of her husband, to an independent worn an. This progression happens slowly with the development of the plot as Nora's personality diminishes during the play. Emotionally abundant, the frivolous macaroon eater of Act One is spontaneous, playful affectionate and quite versatile in play acting for her sexist counterpart. Nora, as she emerges as the end of the play, has become extremely rigid, and quite rational, much like Torvald. This change in the women protagonist of Ibsen's literary work dramatically stunned the audience with a switch of roles in a dominantly patriarch society. Significantly, Nora used a term of finance when she and Torvald have their first and last serious discussion. "This is a settling of accounts."
Similarly, Dorfmann’s protagonist Paulina undergoes an important transformation throughout the play. Dorfmann develops Paulina's character by presenting her with weaknesses, seen throughout the play with her secretive, elusive actions. Just as the plot develops, Paulina's persona does, too. Dorfmann lifts her fa├žade with her domineering nature and through this uncovers her secret of Dr. Miranda, and her plot to avenge herself from her previous torture. This major change of Paulina's character appears in Act one scene three when she makes her initial action of revenge, all of which is done in silence in the middle of the night.
Stage directions are a crucial component within the plays of A Doll House, and Death and the Maiden. Both authors utilize stage directions to successfully personify the women protagonists in their plays, to support their overall themes, to add characterization to the women protagonists, to help structure the play using the varying stage directions, and the development of the plot and main women characters using stage directions within the plays.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cowboy Dan

Cowboy Dan

True love at first sight,
Five years go fast
But the days go so slow.

With Bright Eyes
He sparkles, shimmers, shines
His clothes reflected light –
All right.

You were my Indian summer
In the middle of fucking winter—
Just the smell could make me fall.

I fell and I needed a roadmap,
If you go straight long enough
You’ll end up where you were.

Sitting in your car with nothing,
I miss you when you’re around
Filling jars of silence –
You’ll get nowhere.

An absence of dark
But the light still ain’t there.
I don’t feel at all like I fall –
Everything that keeps me together
Is falling apart, you can’t
Look in on one way eyes.
Dreams stained my memories.

Oh noose, tied myself in
Tied myself too tight.
There are some things that I wish
I could forget, but I can’t.

Broken hearts want broken necks,
Pulled the scab off of regrets.
It’s the end of the discussions
That just go round & round.

I’ve said what I’ve said
You know what I mean but –
I still can’t focus on anything.
Karma’s payment.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Slightly updated Extended Essay


‘Why should “Walden,” by Henry David Thoreau, be considered as the epitome of transcendental literature?’

To answer this question, this paper explores the idea of transcendentalism put forth in “Walden,” by Thoreau. “Walden” is the major source for this paper.
The paper outlines the transcendentalists’ core beliefs on religion, philosophy, and literature of their society. The paper outlines how Thoreau addresses each of these core beliefs in his work, “Walden.”
Also, in the paper, other transcendentalists’ literary works are examined, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott and Walt Whitman. These works were examined the contrast how other transcendentalist writers utilize the ideas of Transcendentalism.
Sources that are used in this paper to evaluate Emerson’s beliefs were mainly his essay “Nature,” and scholarly works evaluating his works’.
Sources that are used in this paper pertaining to Alcott and other transcendentalists come from academic works evaluating their beliefs and contributions to the transcendental movement.
Word Count: 152

American transcendentalism is a movement that began in the early nineteenth century in the New England region of America. Transcendentalism is a change in a group of ideas in religion, philosophy, literature, and culture. A Transcendentalist core belief is to achieve an ideal spiritual state, which “transcends” the physical and empirical being. This state can only be achieved, or realized by the individual’s own intuitions, rather than through the doctrines of established religion. Transcendentalism was one of the key ideas of the American Romantic Movement. (source) The movement of American transcendentalism began, initially, as a state of protest against the general state of culture and society. A particular target of this protest was the state of intellectualism of Harvard, and the doctrines of the Unitarian church, taught at Harvard Divinity School. (source)
Henry David Thoreau is regarded today as being, one of the major transcendentalists in the movement. While working with longtime companion Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau began on his first experiment to achieve the transcendental state. Thoreau’s experiment was one of simple living, which would span over two years and two months, and would result in one of his most famous literary work, Walden. He began this experiment on July 4, 1845. (Walden 62) He moved into a small, self-built house on the land owned by Emerson, a second – growth forest around the shores of Walden Pond. This house was not in the wilderness, which Thoreau specifically states in Walden, but at the edge of town, only 1.5 miles from his family home. (Walden 7) His experience at Walden Pond was to isolate himself away from the disturbances of society in order to gain a more objective understanding of it. Simple living and self sufficiency were the goals in which Thoreau hoped to achieve at Walden Pond. This project was solely inspired by the transcendentalist movement.
Thoreau recorded his experiences at Walden Pond in his book Walden. Walden, is from Thoreau’s personal point of view, recounting his two year, two month stay at Walden Pond. Thoreau compresses that time into a single calendar year, using the passage of four seasons to symbolize human development. Walden is part memoir and part spiritual quest taken on by Thoreau. (Walden 61)
Thoreau utilizes the ideas of transcendentalism through his book Walden in the four aspects of the transcendentalist’s core belief. He addresses religion, literature, culture and philosophy in this book, which can be easily identified through the eighteen organized chapters of Walden. Thoreau’s recount of his experiences at Walden is addressed separately in each chapter. Although the events follow a season cycle, the chapters follow the specific area over the two years spent there. (Walden 61)
Religion has been the foundation of man’s search for spiritual identity, for defining good and evil, and for instituting universal harmony and balance. Transcendentalism was a religion, a radical religion that utilized nature as its house of worship, glorified god as its deity, and had disciples and prophets such as Thoreau, Emerson, Alcott and Whitman.
The transcendental movement signified a change in the traditional religion of the Unitarian Church of Massachusetts. This new religion had its own commandments of higher life, and its own concept of the divine. The radical philosophy of the transcendentalists connected human beings to a philosophy that would spiritually empower humans by making them instruments and leaders of their church. They were governed by god, and their spirituality was defined by intuition, and molded by the beauty of nature. Their church was the raw wilderness, god was their preacher, and their dogma was truth and righteousness. The followers of this transcendental movement were the spirit and conscience of every virtuous man, and their goal was one of conformity to moral law, a disregard for materialism, and deluding progress, aversion for power and expediency, to seek rugged individualism and freedom from conventionality, to fuse nature and god.
The divine authority that the transcendentalists refer to is not separate from man. The divine presence manifests itself in nature, in the soul of man, in the mentality of man, and consequently, in the actions of man. According to transcendental belief, every human being has the capacity to possess the heavenly manifestation of god, and therefore all of god’s goodness, wisdom and power. Separate from traditional religion at the time, transcendentalism establishes precedence by acknowledging a god that is internal, rather than external. Each man could search within himself, his heart, mind, and soul to discover the powers of the creator.
The transcendental movement could be argued that it itself was an entirely new religion in the Massachusetts area in the nineteenth century. This is supported by having “possessed a personalized system grounded in a belief in god, and had a cause that was pursued with zeal and conscientious devotion by its followers.” (Religion, West’s Encyclopedia of American Law)
Transcendentalism was an unchained organization of cohorts and worshippers, its adherents were committed to the values of freedom, individualism, truth, intellectual inquiry into the self, moral law and the communion of man, nature and god.
Henry Thoreau utilizes this belief of a new religion within the transcendental movement in his novel Walden. He first mentions the religious philosophy of transcendentalism in the second chapter of Walden, Where I Live and What I Lived For. This religion is presented as a personal search for meaning, in which “god himself culminates in the present moment,” and for which the “chief end of man” is not a heavenly reward for glorifying god. (Walden 66)
The chapter “Economy” illustrates the spiritual benefits of living a simplified lifestyle. In it Thoreau explains the four necessities of life (food, shelter, clothing and fuel), and how he has achieved them. This first chapter of the book is to solely introduce his experiment and intentions, and how he went about the experiment, giving specific detail to the audience. Thoreau believes that this retreat to nature will allow him to live, and to grow spiritually.
Thoreau tosses the idea of buying a farm around in this chapter, in the end he decides against the idea saying that it is better to remain uncommitted. “But I would say to my fellows once for all, as long as possible live free and uncommitted. It makes but little difference whether you are committed to a farm or the county jail.” (Walden pg 61) This reference to Thoreau’s resistance to commitment goes into his, and the transcendentalists’ philosophy of living a simplistic life without any permanent ties, and with a complete devotion to nature and the search for thy self. This quote from Thoreau’s resistance to Civil Government, relating any responsibility to being held down by the government, in this case, the farm he is discussing is a responsibility to tax collectors.
As mentioned before, Thoreau went to the Pond at Walden to live. “I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.” With this, Thoreau is saying that he went to live at Walden to experience a simplified life, in which he wished to gain a fuller understanding of life itself, in the purest form of raw nature. Although he went to live secluded, he did not wish to resign from everyday life, but to rather live further away to gain a better understanding of it. He goes to experience it himself, whether life there proves to be mean or sublime. He identifies his experiment as a religious journey, in which “god himself culminates in the present moment,” and for which the “chief end of man” is not a heavenly reward for glorifying god. (Walden 66)
Before Thoreau ends this chapter, he goes back to identify the transcendental religious belief of reaching god through nature. “In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime. But all these times and places and occasions are now and here. God himself culminates in the present moment. We are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us.” (Walden 70)
Ralph Waldo Emerson approaches the idea of Transcendentalism in many of the same ways as Thoreau. Emerson transcendentalism is a belief in a higher reality than found in sense experience or in a higher knowledge than achieved by human reason. Transcendentalism upholds the goodness of humanity, the glories of nature, and the importance of free individual expression. Transcendentalism also holds that material objects do not have any real existence of their own. Rather, these objects are diffused aspects of God. In this way, Emerson is somewhat of a pantheist, holding the belief that everything is god.
In “Nature” Emerson considers the over arching need to discover and develop a relationship with nature and God. Emerson also explains that the human sense of beauty depends on seeing things in relation to the “perfect whole”. (Transcendentalism Legacy, 9)
Emerson’s transcendental beliefs are most evident in his essays. In Emerson’s essays, he stresses his beliefs in individuality, and his strong connection with nature, beauty, and God. (Essential Transcendentalists, 53.)
While these beliefs are true to Thoreau as well, Emerson had never gone on to explore the depths of transcendentalism that comes with living in seclusion to the natural world. (Transcendentalism Legacy, 9)

The second chapter of Walden, Where I lived, what I lived for, is a chapter that utilizes the philosophy aspect of transcendentalism. In This chapter, Thoreau describes his cabin location, and mentions the motive for the experiment. Thoreau took up his abode at Walden pond to “live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not when I came to die discover that I had not lived.”(Walden 66) Thoreau believes that this retreat to nature will allow him to live, and to grow spiritually. He is living by the transcendentalist’s core belief in achieving the ideal spiritual state, which can only be realized by the individual’s own intuitions, and by personal experience.
He describes the winds which passed over the cabin as being, “such as sweep over the ridges of mountains, bearing the broken strains or celestial parts only, of terrestrial music.” He imparts philosophy and his knowledge of ancient Greeks in his description of the morning winds. “The morning wind forever blows, the poem of creation is uninterrupted; but few are the ears that hear it. Olympus is but the outside of the earth everywhere.” His philosophy is on his new, secluded abode at Walden, and the change in the sounds of the winds. This quote shows a transition within Thoreau, from his city life, to his pond life, and he has taken a notice to the tiniest differences, which are held close to nature. (Walden 62)
Thoreau does not take his new abode for granted. He tells the reader directly that this cabin is the “only house I had been the owner of before.” With that new abode, Thoreau points out; he has made progress towards settling in the world.
In the first days living in his new cabin, Thoreau takes notice to the natural beauty of his surroundings. “I did not need to go outdoors to take the air, for the atmosphere within had lost none of its freshness.” (Walden 62) This shows the transcendental philosophy taken on by Thoreau, on how in order to find your natural self and to be one with nature is the only way to find the divine within, and to connect yourself with nature and ultimately god.
In this chapter, Thoreau describes morning at Walden in a philosophic manner. “Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.” His early morning baths were taken in the pond, which Thoreau identifies as a ‘religious exercise’. His morning bath served to ‘renew himself completely each day; to do it again and again, and forever again.’ The morning, to Thoreau, ‘was the most memorable season of the day, the awakening hour.’ (Walden 64) Throughout this chapter, Thoreau gives his own philosophy in relation to the morning. Thoreau’s philosophy on morning is one of human rebirth and renewal. He believes that ‘all intelligences awake in the morning,’ and that ‘all memorable events transpire in the morning time, and in a morning atmosphere.’ (Walden 65) Thoreau’s belief of ‘awakening’ is not one of physical capabilities, but rather intellectual exertion, “To be awake is to be alive.” He stresses the importance of starting the day at dawn, “to learn to reawaken, and to keep ourselves awake by the infinite expectation of the dawn.” (Walden 65)
In the end of chapter two in Walden, Thoreau begins to describe the relationship between his humble abode, the early morning, and the search for religion. “The millions are awake enough for physical labor, but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred million live a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake.” (Walden 65) This quote also goes along with the transcendental philosophy that a man is closer to god when he has reached self actualization within himself, and that is balanced with nature and the search for religion.
For Emerson, his philosophy on Transcendentalism is outlined in his essay, “Nature.” Emerson is ultimately fascinated with the relation of the individual to the natural world. In “Nature” he described the feeling of unity with all beings, as he became “part or parcel of God.” Emerson feels that nature could take away egoism and repair all problems: “…In the woods we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life – no disgrace, no calamity (leaving me my eyes), which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground- my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space- all mean egoism vanishes…”(Essential Transcendentalists, 54) In those sentences Emerson is explaining that nature is so peaceful that you forget about everything else. That nothing can come between you and the natural world.

The literature movement in America in the early eighteenth century was influenced by the Romantic Movement happening in Western Europe. This movement was a complex, artistic, literary, and intellectual movement. It was partly a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the age of enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature and was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music and literature. The transcendental movement was directly influence by the Romanticism movement. Transcendentalist writers and their contemporaries signaled the emergence of a new national culture based on native materials, and they were a major part of the American Renaissance in literature. They advocated reforms in church, state, and society, contributing to the rise of free religion and the abolition movement and to the formation of various utopian communities, such as Brook Farm. Some of the best writings by minor Transcendentalists appeared in The Dial (1840–44), a literary magazine. (Transcendentalism, 4/29/09)
The Transcendental Movement dramatically shaped the direction of American literature, although perhaps not in the ways its adherents had imagined. Many writers were and still are inspired and taught by Emerson and Thoreau in particular, and struck out in new directions because of the literary and philosophical lessons they had learned. Walt Whitman was not the only writer to claim that he was "simmering, simmering, and simmering,” until reading Emerson brought him “to a boil." Emily Dickinson's poetic direction was quite different, but she too was a thoughtful reader of Emerson and Fuller. In his own way, even Frederick Douglass incorporated many lessons of transcendental thought from Emerson. (Transcendental Writers, 4/29/09)
One particular transcendental idea pertaining writing is their philosophy on writing and aesthetics’. Transcendental writers such as Henry Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson displayed aesthetics in their writing. Both writers were constantly seeking beauty, not only in term of nature but, also in terms of the individual spirit. While aesthetics can refer to any sense of beauty, it is often used in terms of literature. They wrote for anyone who was and is interested in the notion of transcendence, or the notion of using reason and intellect in order to go beyond the pre-existing limits of the world. When considering aesthetics, most people think of poetry, which often attempts to portray beauty --however pleasant or terrifying-- in some way or another. Although Emerson never wrote any substantial poetry, he is said to have influenced prominent poets such as Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman. When considering aesthetics, most people think of poetry, which often attempts to portray beauty --however pleasant or terrifying-- in some way or another. Overall, the major elements of aesthetics that we can attribute to the Transcendentalists include a new definition of the role of the poet and a different perspective of nature. The transcendentalists believed that the poet was representative of everyman or everywoman, but simultaneously different, in that he or she could observe the world, nature in particular, and express its beauty through his or her own verse. They believed that function was just as important, if not more so, as form, and that art lies in the process, or the experience, and not so much in the product. In fact, the Transcendentalists usually eskewed anything that was said to be definitive or all-encompassing. They believed in the circularity of ideas, in that as long as people are using their intellect, ideas are always evolving and never-ending. (Transcendental Writers, 4/29/09)

Evaluation and Conclusion;
In Walden’s final chapter, Thoreau sums up his stay at Walden Pond. He makes it abundantly clear to his audience that he is not fond of imitators. For Thoreau, transcendentalism is no pose. It is a genuine effort of practical imagination, a mode of living, the art of packing each moment with the utmost life. “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of the stars.” (Dreamer of Dreams, 241) Thoreau does not wish for anyone to take up the life in the woods, as he did, because his stay at the pond was purely a personal journey in which he strove to find himself. He believes that every man is different, and therefore must take separate, unique journeys to find themselves.
He stresses the many truths that he has come upon at his stay at the pond. He believes that in order to fully discover yourself, to be successful on your journey you must be self reliant, self actualizing, and self efficient. To be self reliant, he means that individuals are able to make their own decisions about which they truly are, and what they want to do with your life. To reach a self actualizing state, Thoreau suggests that the individual be able to actively seek their own direction and purpose and to be self efficient, he suggests to the individual to learn to do things for themselves.
Thoreau’s Walden is the transcendental book because in it, Thoreau addresses the four aspects of the transcendental philosophy and gives actual experience where he expresses these philosophies.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


A milange of broken circles
attaining modest, commonn decency.
Your subconscious mind
meandered to the coast.

You were hard to conjure,
unbearable to be with,
but easy to break, to break down.

Your lungs covered with tar;
a garden asphyxiating life,
spewing out your chest.
Your wounds, what a tangled mess!

With an impetuous movement,
I breathed you in.
My apprehension intensified,
emotionally incapacitated,
I feel infinite.
Infinitely melancholic,
mellow - choleric.

Your meek stare has always been
overused, disapproved, misabused.

You're the girl with the super pale skin,
and soft green eyes,
and it looks as though
you could have been happier in a different light.