intellectual vanities… about close to everything

Essays. Erste Reihe. (Taschenbuch) Ralph W. Emerson: Essays. Erste Reihe.

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Essays. Erste Reihe. (Taschenbuch) ralph_waldo_emerson1.jpg
von Ralph W. Emerson (Autor)

Something between Plotinus and Nietzsche, Wilde and Gracian. Painfully idealistic and ruthlessly egoistical – growing pathetic quickly, while lacking Wilde’s wit about it all. Too bad!

On the other hand-side, he wrote at a time when America was in danger to be completely Americanised and somehow tried to mobilise the reality of the heart against a reality of the machine. Out of real life he tried to develop a higher and richer outlook on the world. This is, perhaps, something that makes him worth reading — his unique physiognomy. He is American writing for a nation of self-made men, a philosopher of the New World. He looks at every issue with the healthy, straightforward view of a man who is not intimidated by a sage tradition and someone who thinks for the young.

Anyway, whether or not agreeing with everything that Emerson says, and I’m not sure I do, most people would agree that he is seeking truth and that our world would be a much better place if everyone tried as hard as he did to make it a better place.



Every reform was once a private opinion.



A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.


I hope in these days we have heard the last of conformity and consistency. Let the words be gazetted and ridiculous henceforward.

Language is fossil poetry.



In a virtuous action, I properly am; in a virtuous act, I add to the world; I plant into deserts conquered from Chaos and Nothing, and see the darkness receding on the limits of the horizon.Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins.

Power ceases in the instant of repose; it resides in the moment of transition from a past to a new state, in the shooting of the gulf, in the darting to an aim.



Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.

The angels are so enamored of the language that is spoken in heaven, that they will not distort their lips with the hissing and unmusical dialects of men, but speak their own, whether there be any who understand it or not.

I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.


Flowers and fruits are always fit presents; flowers, because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all of the utilities of the world. These gay natures contrast with the somewhat stern countenance of ordinary nature: they are like music heard out of a work-house.

Murder in the murderer is no such ruinous thought as poets and romancers will have it; it does not unsettle him, or fright him from his ordinary notice of trifles: it is an act quite easy to be contemplated, but in its sequel, it turns out to be a horrible jangle and confounding of all relations. As men’s prayers are a disease of the will so are their creeds a disease of the intellect.


Magic and all that is ascribed to it is a deep presentiment of the powers of science.

Our life is not so much threatened as our perception. Ghostlike we glide through nature, and should not know our place again.

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.


In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed.

Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.




Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.



Written by huehueteotl

May 18, 2007 at 10:04 pm

Posted in Movies/Books, Music

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