Non-Fiction Pictures

Literary Ethics (1838) by Ralph Waldo Emerson & Conformity, False Consistency, & the Virgin Universe

“All literature is yet to be written.”

Literary Ethics (1838) by Ralph Waldo Emerson is an oration which he delivered before the Literary Societies of Dartmouth College on July 24, 1838 and the speech was subsequently published in book form that same year.

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The Address (in book form) is a brief & concise eighteen pages and can be found for free [Literary Ethics: here at this link in pdf].

A few other speech-essay-books by Emerson include “The American Scholar” (1837), “History” (1841), “Self-Reliance” (1841), and “The Over-Soul” (1841).

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Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet (1803-1882)

The main theme of Literary Ethics (address or essay — depending on how one perceives it) is an “Ode to the Perseverance of the Scholar.” The formal speech sounds more like a modern-day pep talk for academics who, then and now, must labor under the heavy weight of the world’s eyes while working all alone. Emerson calls for the Scholar to enjoy the hardships and take comfort (and joy, if possible) in the struggles a Scholar faces year in and year out.

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The three main sections in relation to the Scholar are (a) Resources of the Scholar (p 3), (b) the Intellect (or the Subject) of the Scholar (p 7), and (c) the Independence & Solitude of the Scholar (p 11).  

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Resources of the Scholar

In this first section, Emerson calls Plato, Shakespeare, and Milton “three irrefragable facts” who, including Spinoza & Plotinus, are the “immortal bards of philosophy” (p 5). These scholars and philosophers are used as the prime example for the Scholar to strive towards, reminding the Scholar of Today that each individual, then and now, is but a “successful diver in that sea whose floor of pearls is all your own” & that though these men, and others, are giants among their own right, it is the “impoverishing philosophy of ages [that] has laid stress on the distinctions of the individual, and not on the universal attributes of man” (p 5).

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So, it is up to every individual Scholar to be the “diver of pearls”, and to be such will divide them from all other types of individuals, then and now. Emerson connects this idea with a direct statement earlier in the lecture when he says pointblank, “Now that we are here, we will put our own interpretation on things, and our own things for interpretation… for me, things must take my scale, not I theirs” (p 4).

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The Scholar should “feel that he is new” and not simply a product of the past literatures and empires and churches which have long dictated society and culture. The Scholar is not “mortgaged to the opinions and usages of Europe, and Asia, and Egypt” and the Scholar must hold a “spiritual independence” which listens to the Inner Voice which whispers, “There is a better way than this indolent learning of another. Leave me alone; do not teach me out of Leibnitz or Schelling, and I shall find it all out myself” (pgs 3-4).

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The provocativeness and balanced nature of Emerson’s tone is seeking to explain and motivate to the Scholar (then and now) that, on the one hand, the Scholar of the Now should respect the scholars and philosophers (i.e., the Great Minds from Before) who in the past helped pave the way for Modern Thought, but, on the other hand, the Scholar of the Now should not be confined to these past-formed idealogues and philosophies.

The Scholar of the Now should seek his resources in the Ever-Living Present, to “draw out of the past, genuine life for the present hour” and when that is done, “through wisdom and justice” the Scholar of the Now “can put up [the] history books” (pgs 5-6).

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Intellect (or the Subject) of the Scholar

Emerson continues with his train of thought on the Scholar of the Now, and how the all-encompassing Nature can inspire and fortify the Scholar.

He urges the Scholar to see that “all literature is yet to be written” and that “Poetry has scarce chanted its first song” and that Nature is telling us each day that “the world is new, untried. Do not believe the past. I give you the universe a virgin to-day” (p 8). Translation: Emerson is saying that with each new sunrise the Universe all around us becomes a Virgin.

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In connection to these thoughts, see Emerson’s book-length essay called “Nature” (1836) which further highlights and illustrates a foundation of Transcendentalism which focuses on a non-traditional appreciation of Nature.

In Literary Ethics, Emerson makes it clear that people automatically “assume that all thought is already long ago adequately set down in books”, but this is not true, with Emerson describing this assumption as being “very shallow” (p 8).

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Emerson further details this thought by explaining that “works of the intellect are great only by comparison with each other; Ivanhoe and Waverley compared with Castle Radcliffe and the Porter novels; but nothing is great, — not mighty Homer and Milton, — beside the infinite Reason. It carries them away as a flood. They are as a sleep” (p 11).

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Emerson, a true Transcendentalist, seeks to urge others to understand that each individual should avoid conformity and false consistency (— much like how hoards & mobs of clueless people all across the world blindingly adhered, without question or challenge, to false-now-debunked narratives and embraced foolish-mindless conformity during these past strenuous and sad years of 2020 to 2022 —), and, instead, Emerson calls for each individual to follow one’s heart, to follow one’s instincts, to follow one’s own ideas, and to follow one’s own soul.

There’s no doubt in my mind that if Emerson were alive today in this Age of Social Media, Emerson would most certainly be quickly banned and censored for this kind of Rhetoric: to be at all times an Individual true to one’s Self, and not to be simply a mindless member of the Mob.

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Independence & Solitude of the Scholar

In that endeavor which Emerson has mapped for the Scholar, to be Independent, Self-Reliant, and ever True to the Soul, Emerson also makes it clear that to do so, to seek non-conformity, the Scholar of the Now is going to be alone, isolated, far removed from the maddening cries of the Mob. The Scholar must become “a solitary, laborious, modest, and charitable soul. He must embrace solitude as a bride” (p 11).

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Even back then, in 1838, Emerson understood how people lusted for fame, desired acclaim, and sought honors. Instead of desiring the cries of the crowd, the Scholar should go and cherish the Soul, to go and “expel companions”, to “set your habits to a life of solitude; then, will the faculties rise fair and full within, like forest trees and field flowers” (p 11).

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Much like today, many a scholar and writer go into High Society seeking that warm pat on the back or the noise of the applause from those who consider themselves far more in favor of conformity and false consistency (do as you’re told, even if it’s wrong — which is the very essence of being a slave — a slave to the Liberal Hive Mind). No! screams Emerson. It’s a far greater honor to speak the truth and to be censored than to be conformed to the Mindless Mob and silenced of your own free will. “Be content with a little light, so it be your own” (p 18).

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Don’t believe me? Then, listen carefully, here is Emerson in his own words:

“Silence, seclusion, austerity, may pierce deep into the grandeur and secret of our being, and so diving, bring up out of secular darkness, the sublimities of the moral constitution. How mean to go blazing, a gaudy butterfly, in fashionable or political saloons, the fool of society, the fool of notoriety, a topic for newspapers, a piece of the street, and forfeiting the real prerogative of the russet coat, the privacy, and the true and warm heart of the citizen! Fatal to the man of letters, fatal to man, is the lust of display” (p 13).

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Then what is the Scholar of the Now to do? Emerson also maps out the behaviors and actions of what makes a noble scholar or artist.

“Let him first learn the things. Let him not, too eager to grasp some badge of reward, omit the work to be done. Let him know, that, though the success of the market is in the reward, true success is the doing; that, in the private obedience to his mind; in the sedulous inquiry, day after day, year after year, to know how the thing stands… to make thought solid, and life wise” (p 15).

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“The good scholar will not refuse to bear the yoke in his youth; to know, if he can, the uttermost secret of toil and endurance… If he have this twofold goodness, — the drill and the inspiration, — then he has health; then he is a whole, and not a fragment; and the perfection of his endowment will appear in his composition. Indeed, this twofold merit characterizes ever the production of great masters” (p 16).

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“The man of genius should occupy the whole space between God or pure mind, and the multitude of uneducated men. He must draw from the infinite Reason, on one side; and he must penetrate into the heart and sense of the crowd, on the other. From one, he must draw his strength; to the other, he must owe his aim. The one yokes him to the real; the other, to the apparent. At one pole, is Reason; at the other, Common Sense” (p 16).

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“And out of this superior frankness and charity, you shall learn higher secrets of your nature, which gods will bend and aid you to communicate” (p 17).

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The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s a been member of the Hemingway Society, Americans for the Arts, PEN America, Club Med, & the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also a been Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London.

He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Fathers Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), The Mystics Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), Little Hometown, America (2020); A Time to Forget in East Berlin (2022), and Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being (2023).

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He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.

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BREW Book Excellence Award Winner

BREW Readers’ Choice Award Winner

“A spellbinding tale of love and espionage set under the looming shadow of the Berlin Wall in 1975… A mesmerising read full of charged eroticism.”

Ian Skewis, Associate Editor for Bloodhound Books, & author of best-selling novel A Murder of Crows (2017)  

“An engrossing story of clandestine espionage… a testament to the lifestyle encountered in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War.”

~ Lone Star Literary Life Magazine

“There is no better way for readers interested in Germany’s history and the dilemma and cultures of the two Berlins to absorb this information than in a novel such as this, which captures the microcosm of two individuals’ love, relationship, and options and expands them against the blossoming dilemmas of a nation divided.”

~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

A Time to Forget in East Berlin is a dream-like interlude of love and passion in the paranoid and violent life of a Cold War spy. The meticulous research is evident on every page, and Fewston’s elegant prose, reminiscent of novels from a bygone era, enhances the sensation that this is a book firmly rooted in another time.”

~ Matthew Harffy, prolific writer & best-selling historical fiction author of the “Bernicia Chronicles” series

“Vivid, nuanced, and poetic…”

“Fewston avoids familiar plot elements of espionage fiction, and he is excellent when it comes to emotional precision and form while crafting his varied cast of characters.”

“There’s a lot to absorb in this book of hefty psychological and philosophical observations and insights, but the reader who stays committed will be greatly rewarded.”

~ The Prairies Book Review

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“Readers of The Catcher in the Rye and similar stories will relish the astute, critical inspection of life that makes Little Hometown, America a compelling snapshot of contemporary American life and culture.”

“Fewston employs a literary device called a ‘frame narrative’ which may be less familiar to some, but allows for a picture-in-picture result (to use a photographic term). Snapshots of stories appear as parts of other stories, with the introductory story serving as a backdrop for a series of shorter stories that lead readers into each, dovetailing and connecting in intricate ways.”

~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“The American novelist CG FEWSTON tells a satisfying tale, bolstered by psychology and far-ranging philosophy, calling upon Joseph Campbell, J. D. Salinger, the King James Bible, and Othello.”

“In this way, the author lends intellectual heft to a family story, exploring the ‘purity’ of art, the ‘corrupting’ influences of publishing, the solitary artist, and the messy interconnectedness of human relationships.”

~ Lone Star Literary Life Magazine

GOLD Winner in the 2020 Human Relations Indie Book Awards for Contemporary Realistic Fiction

FINALIST in the SOUTHWEST REGIONAL FICTION category of the 14th Annual National Indie Excellence 2020 Awards (NIEA)

“Fewston’s lyrical, nostalgia-steeped story is told from the perspective of a 40-year-old man gazing back on events from his 1980s Texas childhood…. the narrator movingly conveys and interprets the greater meanings behind childhood memories.”

“The novel’s focus on formative childhood moments is familiar… the narrator’s lived experiences come across as wholly personal, deeply felt, and visceral.”

~ The BookLife Prize

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American Novelist CG FEWSTON


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This is my good friend, Nicolasa (Nico) Murillo, CRC, who is a professional chef & a wellness mentor. I’ve known her since childhood & I’m honored to share her story with you. In life, we all have ups & downs, some far more extreme than others. Much like in Canada, in America, the legalization of marijuana has become a national movement, which includes safe & legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use & research for all.

“This is a wellness movement,” Nico explains. The wellness movement is focused on three specific areas: information, encouragement, & accountability.

In these stressful & unprecedented times, it makes good sense to promote & encourage the state or condition of being in good physical & mental health.

To learn more you can visit: Americans For Safe Access & Texans for Safe Access, ASA (if you are in Texas).

The mission of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research.


TEXANS FOR SAFE ACCESS ~ share the mission of their national organization, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research, for all Texans.


Stay safe & stay happy. God bless.


Nico Murillo Bio ~ Americans & Texans for Safe Access ~ Medical Cannabis



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