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The Conduct of Life - IV. Culture by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The Conduct of Life - IV. Culture by Ralph Waldo Emerson - Page Text Content

BC: By: Jennifer M. Cortez 2008

FC: The Conduct of Life IV. Culture Ralph Waldo Emerson

1: The word of ambition at the present day is Culture. Whilst all the world is in pursuit of power, and of wealth as a means of power, culture corrects the theory of success. A man is the prisoner of his power.

3: It is said, no man can write but one book; and if a man have a defect, it is apt to leave its impression on all his performances.

4: One of its annoying forms, is a craving for sympathy. The sufferers parade their miseries, tear the lint from their bruises, reveal their indictable crimes, that you may pity them. They like sickness, because physical pain will extort some show of interest from the bystanders, as we have seen children, who, finding themselves of no account when grown people come in, will cough till they choke, to draw attention.

7: This goitre of egotism is so frequent among notable persons, that we must infer some strong necessity in nature which it subserves; such as we see in the sexual attraction. The preservation of the species was a point of strong necessity, that Nature has secured it at all hazards by immensely overloading the passion, at the risk of perpetual crime and disorder. So egotism has its root in the cardinal necessity by which each individual persists to be what he is.

8: Politics is an after-work, a poor patching. We are always a little late. The evil is done, the law is passed, and we begin the up-hill agitation for repeal of that of which we ought to have prevented the enacting.

9: Books, as containing the finest records of human wit, must always enter into our notion of culture.

11: You send your child to the schoolmaster, but 'tis the schoolboys who educate him. You send him to the Latin class, but much of his tuition comes, on his way to school, from the shop-windows. You like the strict rules and the long terms; and he finds his best leading in a by-way of his own, and refuses any companions but of his choosing. He hates grammar and Gradus, and loves guns, fishing-rods, horses, and boats. Well, the boy is right; and you are not fit to direct his bringing up, if your theory leaves out his gymnastic training. Archery, cricket, gun and fishing-rod, horse and boat, are all educators, liberalizers; and so are dancing, dress, and the street-talk; and, --provided only the boy has resources, and is of noble and ingenuous strain,--these will not serve him less than the books.

13: He that does not fill a place at home, cannot abroad. He only goes there to hide his insignifiance in a larger crowd.

14: Moreover, there is in every constitution a certain solstice, when the stars stand still in our inward firmament, and when there is required some foreign force, some diversion or alterative to prevent stagnation. And, as a medical remedy, travel seems one of the best.

16: Boys and girls who have been brought up with well-informed and superior people, show in their manners an inestimable grace.

19: Whilst we want cities as the centres where the best things are found, cities degrade us by magnifying tribes. The countrymen finds the town a chop-house, a barber's shop. He has lost the lines of grandeur of the horizon, hills and plains, and with them, sobriety and elevation. He has come among a supple, glib-tongued tribe, who live for show, servile to public opinion. Life is dragged down to a fracas of pitiful cares and disasters.

21: There is a great deal of self-denial and manliness in poor and middle-class houses, in town and country, that has not got into literature, and never will, but that keeps the earth sweet; that saves on superfluites, and spends on essentials; that goes rusty, and educates the boy; that sells the horse, but builds the school; works early and late, takes two looms in the factory, three looms, six looms, but pays off the mortgage on the paternal farm, and then goes back cheerfully to work again.

22: "In the morning, --solitude:" said Pythagoras: that Nature may speak to the imagination, as she does never in company, and that her favorite may make acquaintance with those divine strengths which disclose themselves to serious and abstracted thought.

25: A man known to us only as a celebrity in politics or in trade, gains largely in our esteem if we discover that he has some intellectual taste or skill; as when we learn of Lord Fairfax, the Long Parliament's general, his passion for antiquarian studies; or of the French regicide Carnot, his sublime genius in mathematics; or of a living banker, his success in poetry; or of a partisan journalist, his devotion to ornithology.

26: Even a high dome, and the expansive interior of a cathedral, have a sensible effect on manners. I have heard that stiff people lose something of their awkwardness under high ceilings, and in spacious halls. I think, sculpture and painting have an effect to teach us manners, and abolish hurry.

29: He who aims high, must dread an easy home and popular manners. Heaven sometimes hedges a rare character about with ungainliness and odium, as the burr that protects the fruit.

30: The longer we live, the more we must endure the elementary existence of men and women; and every brave heart must treat society as a child, and never allow it to dictate.

33: The measure of a master is his success in bringing men round to his opinion twenty years later.

34: The fossil strata show us that Nature began with rudimental forms, rose to the more complex, as fast as the earth was fit for their dwelling-place; and that the lower perish, as the higher appear.

35: Very few of our race can be said to be yet finished men.

36: If Love, red Love, with tears and joy; if Want with his scourge; if War with his cannonade; if Christianity with its charity; if Trade with its money; if Art with its portfolios; if Science with her telegraphs through the deeps of space and time; can set his dull nerves throbbing, and by loud taps on the tough chrysalis, can break its walls, and let the new creature emerge erect and free,--make way, and sing paean!

38: Pictures Cover: Ralph Waldo Emerson from http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1007/1346796749_78ff362d6b_m.jpg Page 1: Tabloids from http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/tabloid-6.jpg Page 2: Lewinsky and Clinton from http://dube.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/lewinsky.jpg Page 5: Britney Spears from http://bp2.blogger.com/_cXQsun30_7s/Rwzr1SUXXMI/AAAAAAAAB5s?YSbWI34K8Bk/s20/britney-spears-bald-400a030207.jpg Page 6: Hillary Clinton from http://rbvergara.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/hillary-clinton-pointing2.jpg?w=344&h=344

39: Pictures (cont'd) Page 8: Patriot Act from http://informedvoters.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/bush_patriot_act.jpg Page 9: Norman Rockwell from http://www.normanrockwell.com/images/themed_galleries/children/A270.jpg Page 10: Fraternity from http://www.hope.edu/student/organizations/greek/fraternities/centurian/img/informal_sm.jpg Page 12: Lee Harvey Oswald from http://www/galerize.com?Clones?US_Nazi_Movement_JFK.html Page 15: Sabrina movie from http://www.impawards.com/1995/posters/sabrina.jpg

40: Pictures (cont'd) Page 17: Princess Diana from http://realmusicpeople.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/blog9-princess-diana.jpg Page 18: Hollywood from http://geno.com.sapo.pt/coisasblog/2006.03.05.hollywood.sign.sized.jpg Page 20: Steelworkers from http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/04/20/weekinreview/20uchi.xlarge1.jpg Page 23: Yoga from http://www.metrotransport.com.au/Images/yoga_sil.jpg Page 24: Ronald Reagan from http://content8.flixster.com/photo/11/08/27/11082762_gal.jpg

41: Pictures (cont'd) Page 27: Sistine Chapel from http://www.artofmassdestruction.com/Resource/SistineChapel.jpg Page 28: General Patton from http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-E-Supreme/img/USA-E-Supreme-p205a.jpg Page 31: Ghandi from http://www.myhero.com/images/guest/g18533/hero18092/g18533_u14995_Ghandi-chillin_.jpg Page 32: Dr. Martin Luther King from http://hiphappy.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/martin-luther-king-2.jpg Page 34-35: Evolution of Man from http://www.naute.com/images/evolutionofman.jpg

42: Pictures (cont'd) Page 37: Monarch butterfly in flight from http://images.pictopis.com.edgesuite.et/perl/get_image?provider_id=759&md=2008-03-14%2012:05:11&ptp_photo_id=3865432&size=420x275_mb

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  • Title: The Conduct of Life - IV. Culture by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • My take on Emerson's Culture Essay
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  • Published: over 10 years ago