Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Pre-Emerson Show

Hi.  Remember me?  First, a little housekeeping on the cusp of the early spring recently portended by a New England rodent.  At long last I will admit publicly that circumstance and my heavily neurotic inability to cope with same has left me in a pronounced case of the mean reds over the past year.  I had recently noticed on my medical insurance package that I can be reimbursed up to a certain amount for psychotherapy!  Which appealed to me greatly until I realized that the certain amount would only cover about six weeks of talking.

Long time readers may have noticed the evolution of this blog into pure literary criticism with occasional interior decorating updates.  This is largely, not to pick at scabs, due to a group of fundamentalist religious fanatics whose principle applied doctrinal quirk is vicious behavior, who Laurie and I ran afoul of about a year ago.  Subsequently, I deemed it prudent to grow stingy with personal details in my online life.  Also, my current work hours make writing, socializing, and anything aside from animal survival, difficult.

Recently, I've noticed the virtual and vacant leather couch potential of my blog.  I have also been turning over in my head for some month the words of a friend of mine who suggested I write whatever I feel like in spite of anticipated peril.  Add to that my recent ear-bending toward the Transcendentalists and the Quakers and you've got a characteristically circumlocutory way of warning you that sometime in the very near future it is my intention to write a bit about religion on this blog.  Specifically, sorting through the rubble of my own.

So, I'll be brutally honest and admit that in most of these books in the Harvard Classics series there is a point where I'm sold.  Before that point, in my head I'm usually struggling with maintaining interest, I read very slowly because I'm not yet hooked and am still frittering away my reading hours reading Beartato comics until I hit the hook.  After I find that point, however, I am hooked and begin devouring the book (not literally.)  With Ralph Waldo Emerson, this came with this quote, which was what I was meaning to post in the first place.
"Let me admonish you, first of all, to go alone; to refuse the good models, even those which are sacred in the imagination of men, and dare to love God without mediator or veil. Friends enough you shall find who will hold up to your emulation Wesleys and Oberlins, Saints and Prophets. Thank God for these good men, but say, `I also am a man.' Imitation cannot go above its model. The imitator dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity. The inventor did it, because it was natural to him, and so in him it has a charm. In the imitator, something else is natural, and he bereaves himself of his own beauty, to come short of another man's. 
"Yourself a newborn bard of the Holy Ghost, — cast behind you all conformity, and acquaint men at first hand with Deity. Look to it first and only, that fashion, custom, authority, pleasure, and money, are nothing to you, — are not bandages over your eyes, that you cannot see, — but live with the privilege of the immeasurable mind. Not too anxious to visit periodically all families and each family in your parish connection, — when you meet one of these men or women, be to them a divine man; be to them thought and virtue; let their timid aspirations find in you a friend; let their trampled instincts be genially tempted out in your atmosphere; let their doubts know that you have doubted, and their wonder feel that you have wondered. By trusting your own heart, you shall gain more confidence in other men. For all our penny-wisdom, for all our soul-destroying slavery to habit, it is not to be doubted, that all men have sublime thoughts; that all men value the few real hours of life; they love to be heard; they love to be caught up into the vision of principles. We mark with light in the memory the few interviews we have had, in the dreary years of routine and of sin, with souls that made our souls wiser; that spoke what we thought; that told us what we knew; that gave us leave to be what we inly were. Discharge to men the priestly office, and, present or absent, you shall be followed with their love as by an angel." 
More soon.


  1. Paul, I think that you should write as you please on religion. Sorry to hear of your problems with "literalists" one of the great plagues/poxes of our time. What form has their harassment taken, as it has not been evident on your blog which I have been enjoying from time to time? I'm supposing that it all started with the publicity which you received from

  2. "six weeks of talking"! Why, Man, you can do a great deal of talking in six weeks. Nearly three decades ago I had a "single hour of talking" and it turned my life into a whole new blessed direction.

    P.S. I am now happily reading the "Journal of John Woolman". And completed the fiction "The Happy Boy" which I liked very much!

  3. Ellis, I'm working on the post and it should be up within the next few days. I'm not sure I still want to delve into specific details of the events of the past year in such a public venue. But I am on Facebook and Twitter and always like new friends and am willing to chat. Your assumption is correct although the rabbit hole went far deeper than I ever would have imagined when I talked to Lynn Harris. Here on the blog I plan on writing more about where I find myself at the moment in, to employ a turgid and prosaic term, "My Path."

    Judy, Yes, accuracy would have dictated I say "six hours of talking spread over six weeks" but I abridged the thought for the sake of being euphonious. Laurie is also currently happily reading Woolman. I adored his work and now consider him one of my role models in my faith!