Archive for the 'Lectures' Category

The world is nothing, the man is all…

The world is nothing, the man is all; in yourself is the law of all nature, and you know not yet how a globule of sap ascends; in yourself slumbers the whole of Reason; it is for you to know all, it is for you to dare all.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
The American Scholar

Posted in: Lectures on December 4, 2010 | No Comments »
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Books are the best of things…

Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use? What is the one end, which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire. I had better never see a book, than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead of a system. The one thing in the world, of value, is the active soul. This every man is entitled to; this every man contains within him, although, in almost all men, obstructed, and as yet unborn. The soul active sees absolute truth; and utters truth, or creates. In this action, it is genius; not the privilege of here and there a favorite, but the sound estate of every man. In its essence, it is progressive. The book, the college, the school of art, the institution of any kind, stop with some past utterance of genius. This is good, say they, — let us hold by this. They pin me down. They look backward and not forward. But genius looks forward: the eyes of man are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead: man hopes: genius creates. Whatever talents may be, if the man create not, the pure efflux of the Deity is not his; — cinders and smoke there may be, but not yet flame. There are creative manners, there are creative actions, and creative words; manners, actions, words, that is, indicative of no custom or authority, but springing spontaneous from the mind’s own sense of good and fair.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
The American Scholar

Posted in: Lectures on December 4, 2010 | No Comments »
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If it were only for a vocabulary…

If it were only for a vocabulary, the scholar would be covetous of action. Life is our dictionary. Years are well spent in country labors; in town, — in the insight into trades and manufactures; in frank intercourse with many men and women; in science; in art; to the one end of mastering in all their facts a language by which to illustrate and embody our perceptions. I learn immediately from any speaker how much he has already lived, through the poverty or the splendor of his speech.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
The American Scholar

Posted in: Lectures on December 4, 2010 | No Comments »
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There is then creative reading as well as creative writing

There is then creative reading as well as creative writing. When the mind is braced by labor and invention, the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous with manifold allusion. Every sentence is doubly significant, and the sense of our author is as broad as the world. We then see, what is always true, that, as the seer’s hour of vision is short and rare among heavy days and months, so is its record, perchance, the least part of his volume. The discerning will read, in his Plato or Shakspeare, only that least part, — only the authentic utterances of the oracle; — all the rest he rejects, were it never so many times Plato’s and Shakspeare’s.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
The American Scholar

Posted in: Lectures on December 4, 2010 | No Comments »
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…roadready to plunge in immensity…

As the wandering sea-bird which, crossing the ocean, alights on some rock or islet to rest for a moment its wings, and to look back on the wilderness of waves behind and forward to the wilderness of waters before, so stand we perched on this rock or shoal of time, arrived out of the immensity of the Past and roadready to plunge in immensity again.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Introductory lecture to Emerson’s The Present Age lecture series, given on December 4, 1839, at the Masonic Temple, Boston. The Early Lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:200.

Emerson gave a revised version of this lecture under the name The Spirit of the Times on February 15, 1848, at the same location. The Later Lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1:124.

Posted in: Lectures on September 6, 2010 | No Comments »
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