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The Society of Televised Emotions

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The Society of Televised Emotions

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s transcendental ideals in the 19th century were radical, yet not sensationalistic. Much of his essays and poems were proclamations on how humans needed to commune with the natural world. Emerson’s ideals of embracing nature with both arms had been diluted in the current day to viewing nature with a remote control on an animal show on television. Nowadays in the 21st century, humans have become accustomed to quantifying personal values through detached experiences. Emerson’s expounding on the ideals of nature being synonymous with the human ego may seem like the quaint sentiments of aging hippie flower child today, but he came from an academic and deeply religious background. Despite claims that Emerson’s ideals may seem incompatible with today’s values, Emerson’s teachings are every bit as constructive today, if not more so.

More than 140 years to this day, discussions and arguments continue about the purity and validity of Emerson’s ideals as interpreted by devotees and practitioners. Book reviewer Heikki Kovalainen criticizes author John Lysaker’s novel Emerson and Self-Culture for borrowing another author, Cavell’s thoughts and ideas. However, both of

their writings are based off the basic ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson. This seems very ironic and very un-Emerson, in that the authors borrow ideas from each other as

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consensus, a practice that Emerson discouraged. The reviewer made light of this in a facetious undertone. (535)

The American transcendental movement traced its roots to the Unitarian Church, a liberal Christian church which was dominant in Boston, Massachusetts. Instead of focusing on the stressing of obedience in Calvinism, Unitarianism stre...

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Emerson, Ralph W. "Self-Reliance." A World of Ideas. By Lee A. Jacobus. 8th ed. Boston, New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010. 259-67. Print.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. "Culture." Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York: Modern Library, 2000. 642-59. Print.

Finseth, Ph.D., Ian F. "American Transcendentalism." The Thoreau Reader. Web. 02 Mar. 2010. .

Kovalainen, Heikki A. "Emerson and Self-Culture." Charles S. Peirce Society 44.3 (Summer 2008): 534-40. Print.

Patterson, Arthur P. "Hippies, Hindus and Transcendentalists." Watershed Online: Passionate Discipleship. Web. 02 Mar. 2010. .

Oliver, Mary. "Introduction." The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. By Ralph Waldo Emerson and Brooks Atkinson. New York: Modern Library, 2000. Xi-Xvii. Print.
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