A Reading in Emerson
by Branka Arsic
$49.95 List Price
Fresh from having resigned his pulpit in the Second Unitarian Church, and after briefly considering becoming a botanist, Ralph Waldo Emerson decided to try his hand at philosophy. His 1836 pamphlet, Nature, contains a theory of history, an ethics, a philosophy of language, and an aesthetics. The system, if we can call it that, is a sort of Orphic pantheism. Among its teachings are that nature is a hieroglyph of our minds, that there exists an "occult relation between man and the vegetable," and that we "expand and live in the warm day, like corn and melons." The book hits its psychedelic zenith when we hear of the egoless ecstasy the philosopher feels after stepping over a snow puddle, during which he becomes a "transparent eyeball."
In giving up Nature's recondite grandeur for the moodier medium of the essay,
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