Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Reynolds, David S.
Beneath the American Renaissance
I actually did begin my dissertation before leaving graduate school, believe it or not. It was going to focus on American poets writing prose about history, with chapters on Olson, Emerson, Whitman, Susan Howe and William Carlos Williams. I wrote the Olson chapter and I was at work on the Emerson chapter when I decided to move in a different direction with my life. Thus, I must have purchased this while I was working on the Emerson chapter.
Emerson is such a blank wall in my mind. I read all of his writings, several critical works, and a biography. Yet, when I think of Emerson the ideas that become images in my mind tend toward a blankness I can't quite explain. It's not that I don't remember what I read, but that what I read does not lend itself to the kind of enduring image creation typical of most writers I've spent a lot of time with.
Oddly, the one image that pops into my head right now is of John Travolta in "perfect." He plays a hip Rolling Stone journalist writing an article about the exercise craze. In one scene he quotes "Self-Reliance" to Jamie Lee Curtis, an aerobics intructor, and suggests that the angle of his article will be that the new emphasis on fitness in American is actually a flowering of Emerson's thought.
Hmmm. Is this self-reliance? Or just a crotch-shot?