On Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “The American Scholar” lecture (1837) and his essays “Self-Reliance” and “Circles” (1841).
How should we live? Emerson thinks that conformity, which includes most of what passes for ethics, jobs, and scholarship, makes us less than truly human. Be true to yourself! But since we’re all ever-changing, that’s a moving target, right? But Emerson thinks that when you get really truly honest about what you think and feel, it turns out that you’ve tapped into something universal, something beyond just you, something eternal.
But don’t expect Emerson to really explain that part; the upshot of these essays is primarily social, not religious, much less metaphysical. Trust yourself, stop bullshitting, stop living according to others’ expectations! Mark, Wes, and Dylan argue over whether this is tired cliche or acutely perceptive, and whether Emerson’s poetic language provides helps or distracts. Read more about the topic and get the essays.
End song: “Idiot, Listen” by Mark Lint, recorded mostly in 1997, newly completed and mixed.
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The picture is by Corey Mohler for PEL.