So, this is the penultimate day of the 30DBC, if you have been reading all – or heck, most – of my posts for this challenge so far, I thank you for following along. Even more so if you’ve also been following Rhey of Sunshine‘s blog.
Today’s challenge is on the book I liked that everyone else hated. Personally, I don’t think this scenario exists. Unless you did like Twilight. Otherwise, it’s pretty much impossible for everyone to hate a certain book. There will always be the classic book camp and there will always be the teen novel camp, and those in between, and one may hate the other but mutual hate does not really exist. And if it did, there is a strong likelihood that I hated that book to, so that’s pretty much a moot point.
So the closest situation I could think of in which there was a text I liked but everyone seemed to hate is …
Self Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Okay, so let me begin with my story: It was the first year in uni and we had to read Emerson’s essays early in the semester for one week for my American Literature course. And, like the diligent student I am, I read them, specifically “Self-Reliance”, “Circles” (by accident, even though it wasn’t on the reading list but it was so good), “The Poet” and “History”, and I just remembered being sent into a transcendentalist journey.
The essays are like 19th century self-help or self-exploration articles. They spoke of living in the moment, being satisified with the person you are and to not be over-involved in the concerns of society but instead to be appreciative of what is around you.
And then I had to go for the lecture that week to discuss it, and I was so excited to discuss the philosophy behind it – and, to my utter astonishment, it seemed like everyone there just absolutely hated it.
They could not read past half a page, they did not understand anything Emerson was saying, they did not like the fact that there really was a clear argument to his essays (although that is not what essays are always about!) or they just did not like transcendentalism as a whole. And I could not understand it – who could not agree with what Emerson says? Even in the most superficial sense of his words?
Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say “I think,” “I am,” but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance and Other Essays
To me, there are so many passages quotable from Emerson’s essays and so many concepts to reflect upon. But, I can, to some extent, understand their qualms with his writing. Emerson does not write in the most direct manner – sometimes you lose the point in his speech – you forget what exactly he is trying to say, he crafts sentences in squiggles rather than straight lines.
But isn’t that the point of it? It’s to not to be concerned with what has passed or what is in the future, but to live in the words themselves.
I would recommend anyone to try reading one of Emerson’s essays (Here, let me provide a link) – sit down in a comfortable place, preferably near a window that looks out at some greenery, and with a nice warm cup of coffee and tea, and just read. They aren’t long, and they don’t take long to read (they take longer to think about), and they are a goldmine of beautiful quotes and reflections.
So, I’ll catch you guys tomorrow for the finale – the last challenge of the 30 Day Book Challenge.
Till next time!