Date of publication: 2017-08-27 00:50
To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense (Self-Reliance)
Where some might see a contradiction in Emerson’s views on reading, he saw a creative tension. Most media was dross: at best a waste of the time that could have been better spent sucking out the marrow of life firsthand, and at worst a mental clog that clouded one’s deeper instincts and conformed one’s original impulses to society’s most banal denominator. But, there were a few books that rewarded the effort in reading — that left a man better able to understand himself, and what he wished to do in the world.
A great person does not have to think consistently from one day to the next. This remark comes from the essay “ Self-Reliance ” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson does not explain the difference between foolish and wise consistency.
Emerson x7569 s early preaching had often touched on the personal nature of spirituality. Now he found kindred spirits in a circle of writers and thinkers who lived in Concord, including Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau and Amos Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May Alcott).
These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in a conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.
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While reading could be a passive pursuit, it could also increase one’s capacity for action by providing inspiration and building up a storehouse of knowledge to draw upon in better recognizing opportunities and making decisions.
Emerson’s third rule for books — “Never read any but what you like” — may seem overly parochial, or even lazy. Shouldn’t we all aim to be Renaissance men?
“learn how to tell from the beginnings of the chapters and from glimpses of the sentences whether you need to read them entirely through. So, turn page after page, keeping the writer 8767 s thought before you, but not tarrying with him, until he has brought you to the thing you are in search of then dwell with him, if so be he has what you want. But recollect you read only to start your own team.”