Quote of the Day: Emerson on Genius

"In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance.

Some things you don’t learn until you leave your country. Emerson – who reads him these days?  But here in Germany, I was surprised to find a large contingent of German scholars who spend years poring through the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, apparently to their great satisfaciton. A few weeks ago, I saw a lecture by one German professor of American studies in which he claimed to show that almost every important idea Nietzsche had ever had, Emerson had had first.  Time to go back and read Emerson…

5 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: Emerson on Genius

  1. Kant had important ideas. Nietzsche had lame aphorisms.

    Nietzsche is the Rammstein of philosophy. He sells much better in America.

  2. “Rammstein,” hmm, I don’t quite get the analogy. Though Rammstein has integrated several styles in its music, and (I guess) Emerson did the same in his writings, using sources as varied as Montaigne and the Bhagavad Gita.

    I first started reading Emerson on recommendation of my former teacher Harold Bloom, whose “maps of misreading” have much to do with Emerson and Nietzsche; like you, I was surprised to find that Emerson is revered by German academics.

    I visited Emerson’s house in Concord, which I recommend. Behind it is a little trail that vanishes into the woods; it was the trail Emerson took to call on his friend Thoreau at Walden Pond, and it can still be followed for a ways.

  3. Honestly, for once, I don’t want to lure anyone to my poorly maintained blog, but this entry tells of what Rammstein is, and of what one of its thunderous thinkers, ugh, thinks. His musings on freedom say so much. Is this Emerson poorly understood? Did he (in)digest Nietzsche? Anyway – what, ach, I wonder, will a large contingent of German scholars think of it, and the general public? Moron, but endearing, you say? Right you are. But then, to give our leader his due, what might he just feel about it? He knows that religion is something that we are “born with,” and that religions are to be mocked full throttle, except, er, for some. Does this rival above mentioned thunderous thinkers’ stroke of genius, or doth it surpass? Whatsoever. In my post I’m taking a jab at Gregor Gysi, to whom, for once, I have to make heartfelt amends: here he tells of what he feels is the Left’s anti-, er, …Zionist true nature, and, for once (…dreimal ist Bremer Recht), he certainly is not expecting to profit from it anywhere – he won’t, not in his party nor elsewhere hereabouts.

    As we’re dispensing quoted words o’ wisdom today, here’s Dietrich Schwanitz‘ 2 cents:

    In der deutschen Linken “hat die Mentalität, die den deutschen Faschismus trug, zum Teil überlebt. Das wurde möglich durch das Wirken einer unbeaufsichtigten unterirdischen Theoriewaschanlage, die altes, kompromittiertes Ideengut durch Umetikettierung als links auswies und damit unschuldig machte. Aus lebensphilosophischer Kritik an mechanischer Zivilisation in der Perspektive organischer Natur wurde Ökoromantik und radikalisierter Rousseauismus; aus rechtem Antisemitismus wurde linker Antizionismus, und aus der anti-materialistischen Kulturkritik der Rechten wurde anti-kapitalistischer Anti-Amerikanismus der Linken.”

    Dietrich Schwanitz: Das Shylock-Syndrom oder Die Dramaturgie der Barbarei, Diana Verlag, München / Zürich 1998, p. 363

    “In der deutschen Linken?” The good professor of English studies seems that tad Germanocentric.

    I digressed, you say? I didn’t address our master’s point? Recklessly so? I smeared worthy causes? Stepped on toes I wouldn’t be worth to kiss? To forward an agenda? Foul and rotten to the core in the first place anyway, even if untouched by unsavoury puny me? Well, best freendes, to mollify this joyous blogs’ gentil rederes, lordinges and ladyes, allow to tel ye that at good last Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog, which happens to be a most wondirful thinge. Per his requeste, ich am oon to tooten his horne, to declaymen his werkes, ful of muchel labour and industry, to “beggares, leperes, or humorlesse rogues.” Which ich considere herewith done.

  4. Don, though thou art not to mingle thee and thou, where thou and thee match miss – alf shukran, ya sayyed, Iowahawk is outright wonderfabulous! Quoth one commenter: “Geoffrey Chaucer hath pympeslapp’d Archbishop Rowan Williams.” So side-splittingly true! Then again, do we need some bumbling Bishop to lecture us “[a]bout the cultur fabrick textured […] [w]ith rainbow threyds from everie nation,” so we need “presaerve [us] well social cohesion?”[1] Isn’t St Andrew doing his bit as best as he can (almost) daily? Amen. Aren’t we one tenderly tended lil’ flock?

    Anyway, praised be the day I discover’d this enchanted speck of virtual bliss, that brought me so much pain and, er, …yes actually, joy. First usaerklaert, which tipped me off of houseoffame, and now you link the corn crazed hawk, which I didn’t know before. Plus, we get all the brainy quotes we need. Bonanza! Yowza! All hail! It’s late, so I might as well quote Portnoys mistress again, who rightfully reminded us once, that one good deed deserves another (remember that?! Back in 69!) – so here, after crude redneck’d bull-baiting for our simple minded ilk, and this chav’s foolish ribaldry, neither a most toolrant Bishop nor the Mussel-man will approve of, let’s requite with some pious, social cohesive humour of the utmost finest – but beware: it’s so not funny. Let’s have Henryk M. Broder in Austrian Club 2 TV show, invited by former satirist turned box reporter and talk show host Werner Schneyder. Listen closely, as dirty Henryk is the only one who dares to actually crack a joke. For those not in the know, Mr Broder listened to the Bishop’s advice already.[2]

    1. …opry ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings and a Teuton gets to split a hair: shouldn’t cohaesion be more Chauceresque?
    2. welt.de/satire/article1735246/Henryk_M._Broder_konvertiert_zum_Islam.htm

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