Dante’s got me thinking more about the afterlife, and remembering now what those old American writers from yesterday believed about it, there might be something to this
souls descend into bodies, while others transcend the material world.
The standard belief is there is “nothing” before and after life. That is to say, people don’t tend to conclude on that belief independently. It’s a collective consensus that no one really examines.
As weird as it is to think, people were reading Hindu texts in the US only a couple decades after the Revolutionary War, and the forgotten sage of this now fallen nation was influenced by them as a child. You can’t imagine someone like George Washington reading those kinds of texts, right? Just want to point out that some were on that level of awareness during that general time. Hinduism is only one of Emerson’s many influences though, other strains of mysticism too are prominent in his thought.
Speaking of waking up, Emerson saw evolution as potentially taking place individually as well as historically
Emerson’s description of how a celestial fire falls from heaven and eventually learns to realize itself in the emergent complexity of material consciousness, which evolves from a preconscious state to the self-reflexivity of poetic creativity.
That is NOT the direction of the present phase of the cycle.
I’m writing this as part of the broader theme of the possible refoundation of the country using materials from its own tradition. Historiographical reinterpretations of major events is one way to do that, and rediscovering the real meaning of our great writers is another.
The Maoist erasure of history tends to make one feel like one is living in an eternal present. The reality is that we’re a cohesive Self through history and we only got here step by step, generation to generation. And it’s possible to go back and wonder if we went in the wrong direction somewhere. Because it’s arguably fair to say that the present order is an “exploited Emersonianism”. That in fact might describe the person reading this so well that they wouldn’t even be able to interpret its meaning correctly. That’s why you have to go back to the beginning, the different beginnings, the paradigm-shifts in consciousness, to understand your own self.
The poet thereby “uses his eyes” to follow the soul’s journey through successive forms and, in doing so, “flows with the flowing of nature”. Perceiving not simply one vantage point, but with “all eyes”
You probably think of buckle shoes or something when you imagine that time. There was a belief among many of the cognoscenti in reincarnation, somewhere between the literal and the figurative
tended to view it “as a literary conceit first and as a doctrine second,” although he was “always seeking to express it in Western terms.”
Emerson, you would not be happy with where the soul is in its journey now!
Is it rude to say that there’s something palpably “ghetto” about the personal temperament of Harris? Biden is actually the perfect face for where the American soul is in its journey through history. It’s an old man with dementia that doesn’t remember its own history. It’s in part self-imposed because it’s “violence” against others to remember it. The eternal present is all that exists today, and every day is a reenactment of the Civil Rights Movement. That is the beginning and end of history in the minds of most people, whether right or left.
Interpret as emotions, that gets to the reality of the situation. People get depressed if someone is not captivated by the sublimity of the Civil Rights Movement. It gives them such hope in themselves, and that hope gives them enthusiasm about being alive. So history, and the questioning of history, is fundamentally connected with emotional states. It’s good to have self-awareness about this because some emotions are just that- emotions, and it’s possible to refine some into reason.
Do you want to know what’s reasonable to me? Synthesizing the different selves of American history. Emerson himself was an abolitionist. What we have today is abolitionism and no Emerson. Among other things, he represents self-cultivation. Not only do we reincarnate throughout history, not only do we reincarnate after our individual death, we also reincarnate while living. You decide who you are, you can be reborn as something closer to your higher self. That is far-removed from the standard of today which perpetually demands that selves are accepted for what they are, with no reference to anything higher. Technically, this belief in reincarnation in multiple senses is as American as apple pie. No one knows that because it is erased, the national higher self is erased.
Emerson probably didn’t expect his own writings to be used for this purpose by selves living over a century later
The individual must make himself the fully self-conscious record of history by using his or her own subjective perception as a receptive and constitutive power… Each active reading reorganizes all the manifold elements of history and gives them a new, contemporary variation
We like to pretend history began in 1945, and in the 50s and 60s during the Civil Rights Movement, when we miss out on so many other reincarnations of the collective self from before those times. The Self today does not integrate all of the past, it only uses limited fragments. Thus it can only hope to reincarnate next as something lesser than it otherwise might if it had added more “eyes”. Its current eyes are blind to those other eyes. Too many tears burn in them, it can only see the most recent events, the most recent selves, and can’t learn from any of the others that preceded them.