Monday, November 23, 2009

Aimless Reading: The E's, Part 8.1 (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


Selected Writings
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Emerson, Ralph Waldo
The Selected Writings
Of Ralph Waldo Emerson


I am sure I bought this in graduate school, possibly for a course with Susan Howe. That's all I remember. At some point I must have thrown out the dust jacket. I have a habit of doing that. I can't stand reading hardcover books with the dust jackets still on, so I usually take them off while I am reading. Nowadays, I keep the jackets in order to allow them to perform their function of protecting the books from dust, but there was a time in my reckless and carefree youth when I would take them off and throw them away, willy-nilly, without a thought for the future. In this case it provided for an interesting photo, as I had to shot the spine in order to reveal the title to the camera.

Inside the book I found a bookmark advertising a documentary film screening for "Crossing the Line/Sobrepasando la linea: A documentary by Bill Jungels following the struggle of workers in Mexico, the US and Canada against the negative results of free trade." It was a benefit showing at a place in Buffalo called, El Buen Amigo. I don't recall where I got that, either, and I don't think I saw the film.

The bookmark was between pages 184 and 185, marking a spot in the essay "Spiritual Laws" from the first series. I will take today's excerpt from page 184:

Human character evermore publishes itself. The most fugitive deed and word, the mere air of doing a thing, the intimated purpose, expresses character. If you act, you show character; if you sit still, if you sleep, you show it. You think, because you have spoken nothing when others spoke, and have given no opinion on the times, on the church, on slavery, on marriage, on socialism, on secret societies, on the college, on parties and persons, that your verdict is still expected with curiosity as a reserved wisdom. Far otherwise; your silence answers very loud. You have no oracle to utter, and your fellow-men have learned that you cannot help them; for, oracles speak. Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice?

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