I Become The American Scholar, The Poet.
The american scholar inherently understands there is no end. May this knowledge be both the devil and the angel on their shoulder.
For the instinct of the american scholar is to experience all, evaluate old, and create new. Emerson himself said, “The American scholar grudges every opportunity of action past by, as a loss of power.”
The visceral american scholar will find themselves with an intimate knowledge of society that compounded can incite such a distaste they may be derailed from their pursuance of purpose.
So interrogative of society, it is overwhelming.
I am hamstrung.
Struggling as I read through the commencement speeches of Emerson and Terry Tempest Williams.
Several samples committed to me immense stimulation.
Awash in the questions that do, indeed, Williams, keep me awake at night.
In reading these I am thrown into my life’s work.
But for homework, I must write.
So, yes, Emerson, here I am reading with the intention to write.
And yes, Emerson, as I am “braced by labor and invention” the words I read carry much more weight.
I read here of american scholars.
And here, I identify.
The world of any moment is the merest appearance. Some great decorum, some fetish of a government, some ephemeral trade, or war, or man, is cried up by half mankind and cried down by the other half, as if all depended on this particular up or down. The odds are that the whole question is not worth the poorest thought which the scholar has lost in listening to the controversy… In silence, in steadiness, in severe abstraction, let him hold by himself; add observation to observation, patient of neglect, patient of reproach; and bide his own time, — happy enough, if he can satisfy himself alone, that this day he has seen something truly. Success treads on every right step. For the instinct is sure, that prompts him to tell his brother what he thinks. He then learns, that in going down into the secrets of his own mind, he has descended into the secrets of all minds. (American Scholar 1837)
You were not interested in ideas or language that polarized people: Christianity vs. Islam; Republicans vs. Democrats; wilderness vs. development. You wanted to talk about alternatives, solutions, how to speak a language that opens hearts rather than closes them. You were acutely aware of the complexities and hesitant to take sides before considering all the evidence before you… an educated mind is an empathetic mind. (University of Utah 2003 Commencement Address by Terry Tempest Williams)
In these speeches I come upon solace.
Meanwhile the embers of my being stirred.
I am the American Scholar.
The scholar of Emerson.
And I am white middle class woman.
But still, these words inspire.
In darkness, an epiphany.
And when things don’t go as planned, patience and perseverance are required. Trust. Stay open. Suddenly, a surprise appears. Something you never could have imagined. (University of Utah 2003 Commencement Address by Terry Tempest Williams)
These convocation speeches, a remedy.
So much of the literature I read, remedies.
Because these words are emblematic of who I am.
I am american scholar.
I am philosopher.
I am responsive citizen, Williams.
I am Man Thinking, Emerson.
Is it true?
Shall it be upon us intellectuals to continue to read; to be inspired?
To write; create?
And will I contribute to the next chapter of the American Scholar’s biography?
Or to the next celebration for the survival of literature?
Yes, Williams, something in me has been set in motion.
No, there is no end for the american academic, what an encumbrance!
But there are infinite new beginnings.
And yes, Williams, this is the gift of education.
“The American scholar – The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson.” Complete Works of RWE. The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson – RWE.org, 19 Dec. 2004. Web. Feb. 2017. http://www.rwe.org/the-american-scholar/
“University of Utah 2003 commencement address by Terry Tempest Williams.” archive.unews.utah.edu. 2003. Web. Feb. 2017. http://archive.unews.utah.edu/news_releases/university-of-utah-2003-commencement-address-by-terry-tempest-williams/