The American Scholar (1837) by Ralph Waldo Emerson is an oration he delivered to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge on August 31, 1837. The oration was later published in book form and you can read the formal speech for free [here at this link].
The oration (or essay, depending on how one perceives it) reads like a modern-day account of today’s society being too busy for reading (listening to audio books doesn’t count), too busy for writing (writing blogs might count), and too busy for serious scholarly reflection (but Joe Rogan does have highly interesting intellects on his world-famous podcast to help you if you’re too busy).
Emerson laments in the speech’s introduction: “Thus far, our holiday has been simply a friendly sign of the survival of the love of letters amongst a people too busy to give to letters any more. As such, it is precious as the sign of an indestructible instinct” (p 1).
Emerson, as though commenting on today’s liberal-minded academics in the American academia, explains how in the “degenerate state” of the scholar (much like what’s found among many academics today in America) the scholar becomes nothing more than someone who idly and indolently repeats what’s passed among like-minded colleagues rather than thinking for the Self and for the Truth.
Emerson blasts such scholars who choose to adopt a victim mentality because it warps their frame of mind and their cognitive abilities when seeking the Truth and Reality of any given topic or situation. These kind of “degenerate scholars” can no longer think for themselves but are told what to think and what to say based on the moods and whims of an era.
Emerson extrapolates on how the true scholar is the designated intellect of society, and that, in the scholar’s true and correct state of being, the scholar is “Man Thinking” [or “Woman Thinking”], but in the “degenerate state” the untrue and incorrect scholar is forced by society to adopt and preach falsehoods (basic peer pressure at work with jobs and salaries on the line), becoming a “mere thinker” who is nothing more than a “parrot of other men’s thinking” (p 2).
In his speech at Cambridge, Emerson details three key influences (or educational aspects) upon the American Scholar, which are (a) Nature; (b) Books (or the Past); and, (c) Experience (or Action).
Emerson explains how Nature is the counterpart to the Human Soul, the Yin & Yang to one another. Nature, according to Emerson, is one of the keys to better understanding the Self in a finite local order or in an infinite cosmic order.
As a healthy reminder for today’s social-media-stinted-controlled audience, when the Mind & Soul begin to understand and respect the heavy spiritual influences a scholar (or anyone for that matter) are going to encounter throughout life, the scholar is going to grow, to evolve, to advance to a higher state of being (doubtful that’s going to happen when your face is glued to a screen — even Joe Rogan admits that he’s most centered when he’s hiking on a distant-secluded mountain). Accepting this inner awakening leads to true freedom.
Emerson says to the wide-eyed audience sitting in rapt attention, “When he has learned to worship the soul, and to see that the natural philosophy that now is, is only the first gropings of its gigantic hand, he shall look forward to an ever-expanding knowledge as to a becoming creator. He shall see, that nature is the opposite of the soul, answering to it part for part. One is seal, and one is print. Its beauty is the beauty of his own mind. Its laws are the laws of his own mind. Nature then becomes to him the measure of his attainments. So much of nature as he is ignorant of, so much of his own mind does he not yet possess. And, in fine, the ancient precept, ‘Know thyself,’ and the modern precept, ‘Study nature,’ become at last one maxim” (p 3).
Emerson begins this section by stating that another significant influence on the American Scholar is the “mind of the Past,” but since this is a vastly ambiguous topic, Emerson focuses solely on books since “books are the best type of the influence of the past” (p 3).
Emerson, in this section, does have some vital advice for writers, young and old, when writers are considering what to write, what aspects and topics are essential for writers to focus on.
“Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding. The books of an older period will not fit this” (p 3).
Emerson calls on writers and scholars, then and now, to focus on writing books for the people of that time period about topics sensitive to that generation. The truly great writers are able to do this by writing timeless books that encapsulate and transform the Past and the Present into a book that becomes beneficial and timely for future generations.
“Help must come from the bosom alone. The scholar is that man who must take up into himself all the ability of the time, all the contributions of the past, all the hopes of the future” (p 11).
Emerson also further provides sage advice for young minds when considering their own belief systems being shaped by preestablished dogmas rather than their own intellectual understandings. The Liberal Hivemind is primarily based on such a principle as having individuals accept and follow any given preordained dogma; rather moral or immoral, rather factual or a flat out lie, the Liberal Hivemind cares not. The Liberal Hivemind cares only for slaves, both of the mind and of the body (and the global population witnessed this very state & the inherent essence of slavery over the last few years from 2020 to 2022 with the masses being inextricably coerced to do and to say what the Liberal Hivemind demanded, despite now most everything being proven false, untrue, wrong).
Emerson tells the young minds of his time at Cambridge, “Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views, which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given, forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries, when they wrote these books. Hence, instead of Man Thinking, we have the bookworm. Hence, the book-learned class, who value books, as such; not as related to nature and the human constitution, but as making a sort of Third Estate with the world and the soul. Hence, the restorers of readings, the emendators, the bibliomaniacs of all degrees. Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst” (pgs 3-4).
Emerson is true & correct — a divine Man Thinking, as he is.
Even as this reflective essay is being researched & written, in today’s American society (and also in the social culture of Canada) there are children books graphically and specifically showing and detailing to children with young-innocent minds mature heterosexual and homosexual sex acts displayed on large colorful pages explicit-detailed-graphic images & worded statements that involve fellatio, vaginal and anal sex acts, all simulating sex (i.e., pornography, regardless if it’s in a cartoonish or written format: “He reached his hand down and pulled out my dick. He quickly went to giving head,” page 266 of the book) for children in books (for as young as kindergarteners) now found in schools and libraries — proclaiming Emerson’s prophetic words to be True & Authentic that when books are “abused” they are “among the worst” of things created by humankind.
Let’s be abundantly and divinely clear on this serious issue: No child should ever be exposed to such horrid pornography as this — regardless of the Liberal Hivemind’s intention to educate and promote their own twisted desires for pedophilia. No, it is not perfectly normal.
And this leads Emerson to explain the meaning of the term “Active Soul” to his Cambridge audience, a term which is largely absent from contemporary American society.
“The one thing in the world, of value, is the active soul… 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… The book, the college, the school of art, the institution of any kind, stop with some past utterances of genius… 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” (p 4).
Seemingly reading the minds of today’s American scholars and the methods of American universities (most often both are enslaved & coerced by the Liberal Hivemind), Emerson once again lays claim to the higher standards and designated roles of what an education (regardless of the level) should and should not include — and, as Emerson concludes this section, he provides a warning if ever America forgets his words; a warning which appears all to clearly to have come to fruition.
“Colleges, in like manner, have their indispensable office, — to teach elements. But they can only highly serve us, when they aim not to drill, but to create; when they gather from far every ray of various genius to their hospitable halls, and, by the concentrated fires, set the hearts of their youth on flame. Thought and knowledge are natures in which apparatus and pretension avail nothing… Forget this, and our American colleges will recede in their public importance, whilst they grow richer every year” (p 5).
“Only so much do I know, as I have lived. Instantly we know whose words are loaded with life, and whose not” (p 5).
Here, Emerson explains how experience or action are the “pearls and rubies” to the scholar’s discourse and the “raw material out of which the intellect moulds her splendid products” (p 6). Experience is what’s required for the American Scholar to become a full man or woman with full ripe thoughts of truth, and “inaction” is “cowardice” (p 5). Most scholars have little experience in the real world outside of their university offices filled with archaic books and essays as they grind away writing grant proposals (slaves to the process) to win money for their respected universities instead of spending their cognitive energies in the true-worthy-heroic efforts of creation as higher purpose, and Emerson says as much when he fortifies such timeless thoughts into sounded words of insight, “he who has put forth his total strength in fit actions, has the richest return of wisdom” (p 6).
“Life is our dictionary,” continues Emerson, “When the artist has exhausted his materials, when the fancy no longer paints, when thoughts are no longer apprehended, and books are a weariness, — he has always the resource to live. Character is higher than intellect” (p 6).
Let’s read that again: “Character is higher than intellect,” and yet, many scholars in today’s America are blindly restrained inside the Liberal Hivemind and cannot fathom the meaning nor the importance of such a clear statement, because they are bound by the immoral, dishonest, and corrupt (traits of the Intellect); they are not bound by the moral, honest, and ethical (traits of Character).
If the American Scholar acts accordingly to his “Character” over his “intellect,” and gives powerful credence to Experience and Action, the American Scholar becomes an incorruptible agent of Truth, Justice, Fairness, Knowledge, Wisdom, Clarity, Honesty, and Goodness — all keys to forming a sound & concrete communal Reality and destroying the mad delusions of a deceitful Illusion.
“Those ‘far from fame,’ who dwell and act with him, will feel the force of his constitution in the doings and passages of the day better than it can be measured by any public and designed display. Time shall teach him, that the scholar loses no hour which the man lives” (p 7).
Emerson’s education (or influences) upon the American Scholar concludes here with Nature, Books, and Experience (or Action). He continues to speak, at length, on the Duties of the scholar, or “Man Thinking.”
Once again, Emerson speaks as though he stands before an audience of many contemporary American Scholars of the Liberal Hivemind, who would likely ignore his words and tweet requests to have him canceled, silenced, and censored. And yet, he stands and speaks, unafraid and unconcerned with how the audience, or history, will respect his message.
Emerson tells the audience in no uncertain terms that the American Scholar “must relinquish display and immediate fame” in order to remain authentic and uncorrupted (p 7).
Emerson continues to explain what is further required: “In the long period of his preparation, he must betray often an ignorance and shiftlessness in popular arts, incurring the disdain of the able who shoulder him aside… he must accept, — how often! poverty and solitude. For the ease and pleasure of treading the old road, accepting the fashions, the education, the religion of society, he takes the cross of making his own, and, of course, the self-accusation, the faint heart, the frequent uncertainty and loss of time, which are the nettles and tangling vines in the way of the self-relying and self-directed; and the state of virtual hostility in which he seems to stand to society, and especially to educated educated society… He is the world’s eye. He is the world’s heart… and whatsoever new verdict Reason from her inviolable seat pronounces on the passing men and events of today, — this he shall hear and promulgate. These being his functions, it becomes him to feel all confidence in himself, and to defer never to the popular cry. He and he only knows the world. The world of any moment is the merest appearance… He then learns, that in going down into the secrets of his own mind, he has descended into the secrets of all minds… the deeper he dives into his privatest, secretes presentiment, to his wonder he finds, this is the most acceptable, most public, and universally true. The people delight in it; the better part of every man feels, This is my music; this is myself” (pgs 7-8).
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 Father’s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), The Mystic’s 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).
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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~ 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.”
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“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.”
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.”
American Novelist CG FEWSTON
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Nico Murillo Bio ~ Americans & Texans for Safe Access ~ Medical Cannabis