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Conventional society will hake it hard for you if you do. But you should have the integrity and courage to be ... freakin' ... Whitman! Leaves of Grass my ass! ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Pleasantville:

  • Pleasantville
  • Everyone has a unique self, a nature.
  • You should discover who you are, what that self
    is like.
  • You should have be who you are
  • Conventional society will hake it hard for you
    if you do
  • But you should have the integrity and courage to
    be who you
  • are anyway
  • you shouldnt put the gray makeup back on
  • you shouldnt make deals about what colors youll
  • paint with
  • If you do have the courage to be who you are, it
    may be
  • Contagious. Society may change to conform to you.
  • These are powerful enduring ideas in our culture.
  • Where did they come from?

Traditionalism against which Romanticism
revolted 1. Puritanism 2. Work Ethic 3.
Gender traditionalism The Romantic revolt has
four main themes INTUITION Discover one's true
self EXPRESSIVISM Express your true self
INTEGRITY maintain your true self despite
difficulties PERSONAL IS POLITICAL change
society by changing yourself Coming events the
Beats, the Sixties, Punk
The traditional culture 1. Puritanism 2.
Protestant work ethic 3. Natural gender roles
  • Jonathan Edwards's fearsome "Sinners in the
    Hands of an Angry God". . . defined the role of
    the individual
  • 1. to subordinate itself to the doctrine of
    the community, to conform to the values of the
  • 2 to live for the future salvation not present
  • 3. To accept the authority of others as ones
    own truth

In modern usage, the word puritan is often used
as an informal pejorative for someone who has
strict views on sexual morality, disapproves of
recreation, and wishes to impose these beliefs on
others. None of these qualities were unique to
Puritanism or universally characteristic of the
Puritans themselves, whose moral views and
ascetic tendencies were no more extreme than many
other Protestant reformers of their time, and who
were relatively tolerant of other faiths at
least in England. The popular image is slightly
more accurate as a description of Puritans in
colonial America, who were among the most radical
Puritans and whose social experiment took the
form of a Calvinist theocracy.
In Puritan New England, the family was the
fundamental unit of society, the place where
Puritans rehearsed and perfected religious,
ethical, and social values and expectations of
the community at large. The English Puritan
William Gouge wrote a familie is a little
Church, and a little common-wealth, at least a
lively representation thereof, whereby triall
may be made of such as are fit for any place of
authoritie, or of subjection in Church or
commonwealth. Or rather it is as a schoole
wherein the first principles and grounds of
government and subjection are learned whereby
men are fitted to greater matters in Church or
common-wealth. Authority and obedience
characterized the relationship between Puritan
parents and their children. Proper love meant
proper discipline.
While both sexes carried the stain of original
sin, for a girl, original sin suggested more than
the roster of Puritan character flaws. Eves
corruption, in Puritan eyes, extended to all
women, and justified marginalizing them within
churches' hierarchical structures. An example is
the different ways that men and women were made
to express their conversion experiences. For full
membership, the Puritan church insisted not only
that its congregants lead godly lives and exhibit
a clear understanding of the main tenets of their
Christian faith, but they also must demonstrate
that they had experienced true evidence of the
workings of Gods grace in their souls. Only
those who gave a convincing account of such a
conversion could be admitted to full church
membership. Women were not permitted to speak in
church after 1636 (although they were allowed to
engage in religious discussions outside of it, in
various women-only meetings), thus could not
narrate their conversions.
Mill expressed the Puritan notion this way The
one great offense of man is self-will. All the
good of Which humanity is capable is comprised
in obedience. You have no choice thus you must
do and no otherwise. whatever is not a duty is
sin. Human nature being Radically corrupt,
there is no redemption for anyone Until human
nature is killed within him. --from On
Liberty, ch. 3
The Protestant work ethic the self-made man
1. Work hard do not waste time 2. Aim for
worldly successwealth 3. Delay gratification 4.
Be practical. 5. Take responsibility for oneself
rugged individualism
Ben Franklin popularized and epitomized the
legend of the Self-Made Man, and its corollary
idea that America was the Land of Opportunity,
where anyone who worked hard and used his (and
sometimes her) head could get ahead in the
world. Any boy could grow up to be President.
Anyone could make the climb from Rags to Riches.
Characteristically this climb was done alone,
one stood on one's own two feet, and lifted
oneself by the bootstraps. One's success (or
failure) depended on oneself and oneself only.
This typical American individualism is due
largely to Franklin as well. More than any other
single myth this idea that what America was about
was the prospect of individual prosperity and
wealth has governed our idea about who we are.
If anything this preoccupation with wealth has
intensified in the 200 years since Ben Franklin.
Wherever this ethos prevails, romanticism grows
in opposition..
The maxims of Franklins Poor Richards
Almanack celebrated the virtues of hard work,
sobriety, moderation, thrift and
It was a production ethic. The great virtues it
taught were industry, foresight, thrift and
personal initiative. The workman should be
industrious in order to produce more for his
employer he should look ahead to the future he
should save money in order to become a
capitalist himself Then he should exercise
personal initiative and found new factories
where other workmen would toil industriously, and
save, and become capitalists in their turn.
In a famous lecture of the late 19c called "the
Gospel of Wealth" Baptist minister Russell
Crowell said Never in the history of the world
did a poor man without capital have such an
opportunity to get rich quickly and honestly as
he has now. I say that you ought to get rich and
it is your duty to get rich. How many of my pious
brethren say to me, "Do you, a Christian
minister, spend your time going up and down the
country advising young people to get rich, to
get money?"Yes, of course I do." They say Isn't
that awful! Why don't you preach the gospel
instead of preaching about man's making money?"
Because to make money honestly is to preach the
De Tocqueville reported at about this time The
American is devoured by the longing to make his
fortune it is the unique passion of his life
he has. . . no inveterate habits, no spirit of
routine he is the daily witness of the swiftest
changes of fortune, and is less afraid than any
other inhabitant of the globe to risk what he
has gained in the hope of a better future, for
he knows that he can without trouble create new
resources again...Everybody here wants to grow
rich and rise in the world, and there is no one
but believes in his power to succeed in that.
Democracy in America 2 vols 1835, 1840
Toward the end of the 19th century the name
Horatio Alger became synonymous with the idea of
Rags-to-Riches anyone no matter how poor
could rise to wealth and success in America.
Frances Trollope reported in the early 19c
on Some of the results of the combination of
the Puritan ethic and Franklins maxims, which
Included a penny saved is a penny earned. I
never saw a population so totally divested of
gayety. They have no fetes, no fairs, no
merrimaking, no music in the streets...If they
see a comedy or a farce, they may laugh at it,
but they can do very well without it and the
consciousness of the number of cents that must
be paid to enter a theater, I am very sure turns
more steps from its door than any religious
Edward Said says of his Palestinian father living
in Cairo My father was ruled by the practice of
self-making... he came to represent...rationalisti
c discipline and repressed emotions, and all
this had impinged on me my whole life...In me
remains his relentless insistence on doing
something useful, getting things done, never
giving up, more or less all the time. I have no
concept of leisure or relaxation, and more
particularly, no sense of cumulative
Rugged individualism The belief that all
individuals, or nearly all individuals, can
succeed on their own and that government help
for people should be minimal. --The New
Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition.
1. Women as lesser men 2. Difference 3. Separate
Gender traditionalism
pre-industrial society set definite standards of
gender . . . There was no sense of evolution in
gender relationships. They seemed fixed by God
and by history. . . Most people Believed that men
and women had unalterable God-given roles. Model
1 Puritanism The relation of women to men was
frequently explained on the Model of the Great
Chain of Being, with woman appearing as A sort of
inferior man, with similar but lesser abilities
and Qualities. Women were also seen as innately
evil, on the model Of Eve tempting men into sin
by their sexuality. Model 2 Difference Toward
the end of the 18th century, understandings of
gender Shifted, sharply, to stress the difference
between men and Women. . . . Because of womans
God-given innate sexual Essence, she had a
uniquely feminine nature
By the end of the 19th century this had become
Model 3 separate spheres Men and women each
had their own natural sphere where they were
properly dominant. Mens sphere was the public
World of work and politics. Womens sphere was
the private Sphere of the home and
family. Women (and men) who tried to rebel
against these natural roles were condemned as
unnatural,not true women and so on.
(No Transcript)
Traditional Wisdom
  • Live for the future (sacred or secular) delay
  • Subordinate oneself to ones community
  • Women are different than men and should stay in
    their proper place
  • Accept the authority of others as ones own
  • Aim for worldly successwealth
  • Work hard do not waste time nose to the
  • grindstone
  • 6. Be practical, not a dreamer Rationalistic
  • 7. Repress emotions they are not useful
  • 8. Repress ones nature it is corrupt
  • 9. Take responsibility for oneself rugged

Major figures in the 19th century Romantic
movement Known as Transcendentalism Ralph
Waldo Emerson Henry David Thoreau Margaret
Fuller Walt Whitman
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1802-1882) Trust thyself
every heart vibrates to that iron string.
Born in Boston, son of a Unitarian minister.
Graduated Harvard at age 18. First a
schoolmaster, then a Unitarian minister. Left the
ministry because of doubts about Communion.
Moved to Concord Mass 1835. Founded
Transcendental Club. Nature published 1836.
Writer/Lecturer, famous orator, abolitionist
Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862
Born Concord Mass. Would have Graduated from
Harvard but refused to pay 5 for his diploma.
Schoolteacher, Dismissed for not spanking his
pupils. Mostly worked in family pencil
factory. Naturalist, advocate of simple living,
tax resister author of Walden Civil
Disobedience, fervent abolitionist. Lived in
Cambridge MA. Inspiration for Gandhi Martin
Luther King.
Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind
It is never too late to give up our prejudices.
No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can
be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes
or in silence passes by as true to-day may turn
out to be falsehood to-morrow --Thoreau, Walden
(No Transcript)
Margaret Fuller 1810-1850
First true advocate for womens rights. Learned
Latin at 5. Editor of The Dial. Wrote Woman in
the 19th Century. Literary critic for NY
Herald Tribune--1st female journalist on major
paper. Died when the boat carrying her back to
America from Europe sank. Great aunt of
Buckminster Fuller
What Woman needs is not as a woman to act or
rule, but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to
discern, as a soul to live freely and unimpeded.
Walt Whitman (1819-1892
Possibly greatest American poet. Wrote Leaves of
Grass. Born in Brooklyn. NY newspaperman. Nursed
wounded during Civil War wrote Specimen
Days. Outraged Victorian America with his open
sexuality in his poems and even more so by the
homoeroticism they expressed. Perhaps best known
for Oh Captain! My Captain! expressing
his grief at the death of Lincoln.
After you have exhausted what there is in
business, politics, conviviality, and so on -
have found that none of these finally satisfy, or
permanently wear - what remains? Nature remains.
Homer Simpson, after discovering that a grave his
father told him was his dead mother's was
actually that of Whitman, says, along with
intermittent kicks to the gravestone, "Damn you
Walt Whitman! I hate you Walt freakin'
Whitman! Leaves of Grass my ass!")
  • "it was as a revolutionary that Whitman began his
    work and a revolutionary he remained to the
    end...It was this revolutionary spirit that made
    him the friend of all rebellious souls past and
    present...Conventional law and order he frankly
    despised and those individuals who sought their
    own law and followed it awoke his admiration.
    Thoreau's "lawlessness" delighted him-"his going
    his own absolute road let hell blaze all it
    chooses, It is a coward and a poltroon who
    accepts his law from others....

  • Among the characteristic attitudes of Romanticism
    were the following a deepened appreciation of
    the beauties of nature a general exaltation of
    emotion over reason and of the senses over
    intellect a turning in upon the self and a
    heightened examination of human personality and
    its moods and mental potentialities a
    preoccupation with the genius, the hero, and the
    exceptional figure in general, and a focus on his
    passions and inner struggles a new view of the
    artist as a supremely individual creator, whose
    creative spirit is more important than strict
    adherence to formal rules and traditional
    procedures an emphasis upon imagination as a
    gateway to transcendent experience and spiritual

I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of
the Heart's affections, and the truth of
Imagination.What the Imagination seizes as Beauty
must be truth--whether it existed before or
not,--for I have the same idea of all our
passions as of Love they are all, in their
sublime, creative of essential Beauty . . .. .
.The excellence of every art is its intensity,
capable of making all disagreeables evaporate
from their being in close relationship with
Beauty and Truth . . . several things dove-tailed
in my mind, and at once it struck me what quality
went to form a Man of Achievement, , especially
in Literature, and which Shakespear possessed so
enormously--I mean Negative Capability, that is,
when a man is capable of being in uncertainties,
mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching
after fact and reason. --Keats
  • Self-Discovery of ones true nature
  • Listen to the still small voice
  • Ignore conventional wisdom
  • 2. Authenticity Express ones true nature
  • be nonconformist
  • develop ones inborn abilities
  • 3. Integrity Have the courage to sustain
  • ones authenticity in the face of
  • difficulties and temptations.
  • 4. Change the world by personal example.

Part I Self-Discovery
  • Discover ones authentic nature
  • Listen to the still small voice
  • Ignore conventional wisdom
  • 2. Authenticity Express ones nature
  • be nonconformist
  • develop ones inborn abilities
  • 3. Integrity Have the courage to resist coercion
  • out of ones authentic life and seduction
  • back into a conventional life.
  • 4. Make social change by personal example

That taboo is there for Betty and Bill she is a
brave woman To defy it openly.
People have an inborn nature. That nature is
Pleasantville shows people finding their real
selves hidden under the conventional selves they
have adopted to fit the social conventions of
what boys girls, men women are supposed to
be. As they find themselves, they turn color.
One must discover ones true nature by listening
to ones intuition
The heart has its reasons of which reason
knows nothing. --Blaise Pascal
The voice of nature Emersons reasons for
listening to ones heart
  • Every natural process is a version of a
  • moral sentence. The moral law lies at the
  • centre of nature and radiates to the
    circumference. It is the pith and marrow of every
    substance, every relation, and every process. All
    things with which we deal, preach to us.

Nor can it be doubted that this moral sentiment
which thus scents the air, grows in the grain,
and impregnates the waters of the world, is
caught by man and sinks into his soul. The moral
influence of nature upon every individual is
that amount of truth which it illustrates to him.
Who can estimate this? Who can guess how much
firmness the sea-beaten rock has taught the
I hear and behold God in every object . . . Why
should I wish to see God better than this day? I
see something of God each hour of the twenty-four
. . . I find letters from God dropt in the
street And everyone is signed by Gods
name Whitman, Song of Myself
Normal truth is not your truth you are unique
It seems as if the Deity dressed each soul which
he sends into nature in certain virtues and
powers not communicable to other men, and
sending it to perform one more turn through the
circle of beings, wrote, "Not transferable" and
"Good for this trip only," on these garments of
the soul. Emerson "Uses of Great Men"
  • Because you have a unique nature,
  • the conventional truths will not be true
  • for you.You will have to find your own
  • way.

  • I have lived some thirty years on this planet,
    and I have yet to hear the first syllable of
    valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors.
    They have told me nothing, and probably cannot
    tell me anything to the purpose. Here is life, an
    experiment to a great extent untried by me but
    it does not avail me that they have tried it.
  • -Thoreau, Walden

  • The greater part of what my neighbors call good I
    believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of
    anything, it is very likely to be my good
    behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved
    so well?
  • -Thoreau, Walden

  • Would not genius be common as light if men
    trusted their higher selves?
  • Margaret Fuller

  • An answer in words is delusive it is really no
    answer to the questions you ask. Do not require a
    description of the countries towards which you
    sail. The description does not describe them to
    you, and to-morrow you arrive there, and know
    them by inhabiting them.
  • --Emerson

  • The inquiry leads us to that source, at once the
    essence of genius, the essence of virtue, and the
    essence of life, which we call Spontaneity or
    Instinct. We denote this primary wisdom as
    Intuition, whilst all later teachings are
    tuitions. In that deep force, the last fact
    behind which analysis cannot go, all things find
    their common origin.
  • -Emerson, Self-Reliance

The Transcendentalist vision the mind can
apprehend absolute spiritual truths directly
without having to go through the detour of the
senses, without the dictates of past authorities
and institutions, and without the plodding labor
of ratiocination.
From Immanuel Kant, the transcendentalists
borrowed A distinction between Understanding and
Understanding is the analytical, rational,
calculating side of the Mind. Its the Franklin
mind commonsensical, practical, realistic.
Its Yankee ingenuity the kind of intellect
used In business and trained in schools. Reason
is intuitive, wild, mystical. It forms larger
patterns of order out of the information gathered
by Understanding. It creates meaning out of data.
It needs wilderness and nature to be brought out
the busy-ness of commerce and cities and ordinary
life tends to drown it out.
Thus Thoreau retreats to Walden to seek truth
that eludes him in the city and among other
people. Nature in the sense of wilderness allows
Reason to make sense of things for him. It allows
his own Nature to speak, to suppress the ordinary
Understanding to reach for deeper meaning, a more
natural, more trustworthy, meaning. This
Understanding is trustworthy because the voice of
Nature is the voice of God. This inner sense is
ones unique genius. We all have it, we can
all discover it.
Listening to ones heart will Reveal ones true
nature. Intuition is the voice of
Nature Speaking in you. It is the still small
voice that Will reveal the truth to you.
  • "Talent thinks, genius sees.
  • -William Blake
  • For 18th-century English artist and poet William
    Blake, art was visionary, not intellectual. He
    believed that the arts offered insights into the
    metaphysical world and could potentially redeem a
    humanity fallen into materialism and doubt. His
    belief that imagination is the artist's critical
    filter indicated the dawn of Romanticism, but his
    peers failed to recognize his genius

By virtue of this inevitable nature, private
will is overpowered, and, maugre our efforts or
our imperfections, your genius will speak from
you, and mine from me. That which we are, we
shall teach, not voluntarily, but involuntarily.
Thoughts come into our minds by avenues which we
never left open, and thoughts go out of our
minds through avenues which we never voluntarily
opened. --Emerson
  • If we keep an open mind, too much is likely to
    fall into it.
  • --Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972),

Emerson, et. al. had no idea
  • Only the dreamer shall understand realities,
    though in truth his dreaming must be not out of
    proportion to his waking.
  • --Margaret Fuller

A sign that you need to seek your true self
is Alienation or Estrangement Im a
stranger in a strange land.
  • Signs that youre a stranger in a strange land
  • You dont know the rules
  • You dont speak the language
  • You dont feel at home
  • No one is like you
  • You are anxious

  • If youre actually in a strange land, this is
  • But if the strange land is your home, then you
    are alienated, estranged.
  • If the people who are closest to you, family,
    friends. .. Seem like strangers to you
  • If they seem to be playing a game whose rules you
    dont know
  • Or you know the rules but dont feel comfortable
    playing by them
  • You suffer anxiety (angst) just from normal

  • Alienation or estrangement is thus
  • When your nature doesnt fit
  • the scripts provided by your society

  • Jim stark is alienated.
  • He cant find any role models, any scripts that
    suit him
  • He doesnt feel at home with other kids hes not
    a greaser or a popular kid.
  • He cant see a role for him in the adult world
    either his fathers script is not for him.

  • This estrangement is the cause of the anguish Jim
    is in for most of the film.
  • Ambiguity of the film does Jim conform at the
    end, when he embraces his parents? Has he decided
    that its too hard being an outsider, an alien,
    and that hell do his best to fit in?
  • Or does he remain a rebel?

(No Transcript)
Having discovered ones true self by Listening
to ones intuition which is the voice of Nature
inside one and by Avoiding the traps set by
conventional wisdom One must now Express that
true self in ones life and Protect it from
social pressures
Thoreaus retreat to Walden and other things
Romanics Say may give the impression that one
first discovers Who one is, by retreating from
the hurly-burly of everyday Life into nature,
And there is that strain One discovers who
one is by inner communion, by retreat from others
and from society. There is a hint of this view
in Rebel when Jim, Judy Plato retreat to the
abandoned house and fantasize about alternative
family scripts. But
In another view Discovery and expression are
not sequential. One doesnt first, conclusively
and once and for all, discover who one is and
then express that nature in ones life.
Discovery of ones true nature will continue to
occur As one expresses that nature in ones life.
Expression Is part of discovery and discovery is
part of expression. Jim Stark e.g. is expressing
who he is even though he doesnt yet know who he
is. The only way he can find out who he is is by
attempting to live as authentically as he can.
1. Discover ones authentic nature Listen to the
still small voice Ignore conventional wisdom
Part 2 Authenticity.
  • 2. Authenticity
  • express ones nature
  • develop ones inborn abilities

3. Integrity Have the courage to resist coercion
out of ones authentic life and seduction back
into a conventional life. 4. The personal is
political change the world by Changing yourself.
What Woman needs is not as a woman to act or
rule, but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to
discern, as a soul to live freely and
unimpeded.Men think that nothing is so much to
be dreaded for a woman as originality of thought
or character. --Margaret Fuller
most of Walt Whitmans "Song of Myself" has to
do not with the self searching for a final
identity but with the self escaping a series of
identities which threaten to destroy its lively
and various spontaneity
Once one has discovered ones true nature or
self, one must express that self in ones
entire way of life and work
Gandhi said Thoreau taught nothing that he was
not prepared to practice in himself.
The end of man. . . Is the highest and most
harmonious development of his powers to a
complete and consistent whole. . . For this there
are two requisites, freedom, and a variety of
situations and from the union of these
arise individual vigor and manifold diversity
which combine themselves in originality -Wilhe
lm von Humboldt (as paraphrased by J.S. Mill
In the long run, men hit only what they aim at.
Therefore though they should fail immediately,
they had better aim at something
high. --Thoreau
The most important thing in life is to develop
the talents Nature gave you- whatever they may be.
Very early, I knew that the only object in life
was to grow. -Margaret Fuller
That Envy is ignorance imitation is suicide
that he must Take himself for better or worse as
his portion. . . A friend suggested, But these
impulses may come from below,not from above. I
replied, They do not seem to me to be such, but
if I am the devils child, I will live then from
the devil. -Emerson, Self-Reliance
I went to the woods because I wished to live
deliberately, To front only the essential facts
of life, and see if I could Not learn what it had
to teach, and not, when it came Time to die,
discover that I had not lived. I did not wish To
live what was not life, living is so dear, nor
did I wish To practice resignation, unless it was
quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck
out all the marrow of life. . . To drive life
into a corner and reduce it to its lowest Terms,
and if it proved to be mean, why then to get The
whole and genuine meanness of it. --Thoreau,
It is a vulgar error that love, a love, to woman
is her whole existence she is born for Truth and
Love in their universal energy. ---Margaret
  • Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. .
  • nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of
  • own mind.
  • I have my own stern claims . . . If anyone
  • imagines that this law is lax, let him keep
  • its commandment one day.
  • --Emerson

In every work of genius we
recognize our own rejected thoughts they come
back to us with a certain alienated majesty.
Great works of art have no more affecting lesson
for us than this. They teach us to abide by our
spontaneous impression with good-humoured
inflexibility, then most when the cry of voices
is on the other side. Else tomorrow a stranger
will say with masterly good sense precisely what
we have thought and felt all the time, and we
shall be forced to take with same our opinion
from another. --Emerson
  • Those who seem overladen with electricity
    frighten those around them,
  • --Margaret Fuller

  • Be suspicious of conventional wisdom
  • It will mislead you about how you should live
  • It will blind you to your true and unique nature.
  • It will lead you into conventional scripts that
  • will not suit you
  • 4. These scripts will occupy your time and your
  • imagination, deafening you to your intuition,
  • stunting your imagination, preventing you
  • from imagining alternatives to the status quo.
  • 5. It will put your mind in a straitjacket,
  • you from seeing things that do not fit those
  • views.

It is never too late to give up our prejudices.
No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can
be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes
or in silence passes by as true to-day may turn
out to be falsehood to-morrow --Thoreau, Walden
  • You shall not look through my eyes either, nor
    take things from me,
  • You shall listen to all sides and filter them
    from your self.
  • Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

If you follow conventional paths, You will lose
touch with your intuition Your imagination will
To dream magnificently is not a gift given to
all men, and even for those who possess it, it
runs a strong risk of being progressively
diminished by the ever-growing dissipation of
modern life and by the restlessness engendered
by material progress. The ability to dream is a
divine and mysterious ability because it is
through dreams that man communicates with the
shadowy world which surrounds him. But this
power needs solitude to develop freely the more
one concentrates, the more one is likely to dream
fully, deeply. --Charles Baudelaire
Conventional views will lead you away from the
  • Men have looked away from themselves, and at
    things, so long that they have come to esteem
    ...the religious, learned, and civil
    institutions, as guards of property...They
    measure their esteem of each other, by what each
    has, and not by what each is. But a cultivated
    man becomes ashamed of his property, ashamed of
    what he has, out of new respect for his being.
  • --Emerson

  • The Pleasantville rebels have to learn the truth
    originally from an outsider. There is no wisdom
    in Pleasantville that will tell them.
  • Jim Stark cannot find out who he is by asking his
    father or mother or even the friendly policeman.

It is astonishing what force, purity, and wisdom
it requires for a human being to keep clear of
falsehoods. - Margaret Fuller
Live life to the full As if one could kill time
without injuring eternity -Thoreau, Walden
Be open Be sensual Be unafraid Seize the day
"I only regret, in my chilled old age, certain
occasions and possibilities I didnt embrace."
--Henry James to Hugh Walpole
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"Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the
son Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating,
drinking, and breeding No sentimentalist, no
stander above men and women or apart from them
Whitman was most emphatic in rejecting the
Puritan view that the body was corrupt and its
urges to be suppressed Loafe with me on the
grass, loose the stop from your throat, Not
words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or
lecture, not even the best, Only the lull I
like, the hum of your valved voice. I mind how
once we lay such a transparent summer
morning, How you settled your head athwart my
hips and gently turn'd over upon me, And parted
the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your
tongue to my bare-stript heart, And reach'd till
you felt my beard, and reach'd till you held my
feet. --Song of Myself
I believe in the flesh and the appetites Seeing,
hearing, feeling are miracles, And each part and
tag of me is a miracle. Divine am I inside and
out, And I make holy whatever I touch. .
. --Whitman, Song of Myself
But sex alone is not worth celebrating. Without
some genuine Connection, some engagement of the
heart, it can be alienating
Oh, I dont think your father would ever do
anything like that, dear
The Puritan view, firmly rejected by Whitman
One thing only Margaret Fuller demanded of all
her friends-that they should have some
extraordinary generous seeking that they should
not be satisfied with the common routine of life,
that they should aspire to something higher,
better, holier, than they had now attained.
Where this element of aspiration existed, she
demanded no originality of intellect, no
greatness of soul. If these were found, well
but she could love, tenderly and truly, where
they were not. She never formed a friendship
until she had seen and known this germ of good,
and afterwards judged conduct by this. To this
germ of good, to this highest law of each
individual, she held them true.
Dont postpone living now for the sake of some
future goal. Seize the day Gather ye
rosebuds while ye may. Dont be cautious live
in the moment.

Its nature is satisfied and it satisfies nature
in all moments alike. There is no time to it.
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. --Emerson, Self-Reliance
Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, encouraging his
followers not to worry about their worldly
needs Why take ye thought for raiment?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow
they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I
say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.
Men for the sake of getting a living forget to
live. --Margaret Fuller
Success in dealing with the world as it is
inevitably diminishes the ability to imagine it
as it might be. --Thomas Carlyle
Ordinary work suppresses individuality
?For more on this theme, see any Dilbert cartoon
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  • Thoreau claimed that there was no
  • time when he was at Walden Pond.
  • His days at Walden are such that he
  • can sit rapt in a revery, amidst the pines...
  • in undisturbed solitude and stillness...
  • his time there is not segmented into
  • hours and fretted by the ticking of a
  • clock. he said that he grew like corn
  • by sitting on his doorstep from dawn
  • to noon, too busy to engage in work of
  • head or hand

  • And this natural unclocked time is not "idleness"
    in the sense that the men of the village, the Ben
    Franklins would understand it, and condemn it
    for being so. It is rather the best possible use
    of time. It's one's own time, unsold to anyone
    else, undevoted to the chores of the world, it's
    a sacred chunk of one's life, which is nothing
    but time, so one better be careful how one spends
  • Thoreau, walden

Part 3 Integrity
  • Discover ones nature
  • Listen to the still small voice
  • Ignore conventional wisdom
  • 2. Express ones nature
  • be nonconformist
  • Develop ones inborn abilities

3. Have the integrity to resist coercion out of
ones authentic life and seduction back into a
conventional life.
4. The personal is political change the world by
changing yourself
  • One option when one is alienated is to
  • Conform
  • To pick a script and follow it anyway, regardless
    of the fact that it crimps you
  • This is what most people do, say Romantics.
  • Thoreau the mass of men lead lives of quiet

  • But it is not what Romantics recommend.
  • If there is no script that fits you in your
    society, then create a new script that does fit
  • Be a nonconformist

  • Degrees of conformity
  • Compromising conformity get a day job but try
    to be yourself at other times (Sunday painters
  • Inevitabilist conformity you might as well b/c
    society will win in the end and youll save
    yourself a lot of trouble.
  • Developmental conformity rebellion is just a
    stage that one goes through then one grows up
    and conforms

  • Positive conformity Society provides adequate
    scripts rebellion is willful deviance.
  • Repressive conformity Puritanism. e.g.
  • The natural self is corrupt and evil and should
    be crushed. Conformity is a positive good

Elaine facing a choice between safe normality and
risky love.
Conformity suppresses what is natural in us. Fear
of being different can lead us right back into
the closet.
  • "It is the best part of the man, I sometimes
    think, that revolts most against his being the
    minister" Emerson wrote as a young minister
    himself in January 1831when he was 29, "His good
    revolts from official goodness. . .We. . . fall
    into institutions already made and have to
    accommodate ourselves to them to be useful at
    all, and this accommodation is, I say, a loss of
    so much integrity. . . and power.
  • There will soon be no more priests. A superior
    breed shall take their place. A new order shall
    arise . . . And every man shall be his own
  • ---Walt Whitman

Difficulties in authenticity expressivism self-dev
elopment integrity
  • It takes strength of character.
  • Freedom is frightening fear may make one run
    back to the closet
  • The outcome is unknown, the future uncertain
  • Conventional society will attempt to
  • punish you.

Nations, like families, have great men only in
spite of themselves. They do everything in
their power not to have any. And therefore, the
great man, in order to exist, must possess a
force of attack which is greater than the force
of resistance developed by millions of
people. --Charles Baudelaire
Freedom is frightening because no one can tell
you the way
  • There are no road maps, no well-trodden paths to
    follow, no scripts.
  • One has to make it up as one goes, with only
    ones instincts to follow
  • No one will be able to give you advice.
  • You will be uncertain and anxious without others
    like you to give you reassurance

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For the ease and pleasure of treading the old
road, accepting the fashions, the education, the
religion of society, he takes the cross of
making his own, and, of course, the
self-accusation, the faint heart, the frequent
uncertainty and loss of time, which are the
nettles and tangling vines in the way of the
self-relying and self-directed and the state of
virtual hostility in which he seems to stand to
society, and especially to educated society. For
all this loss and scorn, what offset? He is to
find consolation in exercising the highest
functions of human nature.
  • For nonconformity, the world whips you with
    its displeasure.
  • -Emerson

  • One may suffer
  • Unpopularity
  • Ridicule
  • Loss of career
  • Loss of friends
  • Social oppression
  • Poverty
  • Even death

America is no place for an artist to be an
artist is to be a moral leper, an economic
misfit, a social liability. A corn-fed hog
enjoys a better life than a creative writer,
painter, or musician.-Henry Miller, The
Air-Conditioned Nightmare p. 16
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Attempting to rape Betty
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McMurphy gets shock treatment
Part 4 Politics
  • Discover ones nature
  • Listen to the still small voice
  • Ignore conventional wisdom
  • 2. Express ones nature
  • be nonconformist
  • Develop ones inborn abilities

3. Have the integrity to resist coercion out of
ones authentic life and seduction back into a
conventional life.
4. The personal is political change the world
by changing yourself
Good men must not obey the law too
well. -Emerson, On Politics
Whilst I do what is fit for me, and abstain from
what is unfit, my neighbor and I shall often
agree in our means, and work together for a time
to one end. But whenever I find my dominion over
myself not sufficient for me, and undertake the
direction of him also, I overstep the truth, and
come into false relations to him. I may have so
much more skill or strength than he, that he
cannot express adequately his sense of wrong,
but it is a lie, and hurts like a lie both him
and me. Love and nature cannot maintain the
assumption it must be executed by a practical
lie, namely, by force. This undertaking for
another, is the blunder which stands in colossal
ugliness in the governments of the world.
-Emerson, On Politics
the State must follow, and not lead the character
and progress of the citizen . . . they only who
build on Ideas, build for eternity and that the
form of government which prevails, is the
expression of what cultivation exists in the
population which permits it. The law is only a
memorandum. We are superstitious, and esteem the
statute somewhat so much life as it has in the
character of living men, is its force. The
statute stands there to say, yesterday we agreed
so and so, but how feel ye this article today?
-Emerson, On Politics
What the tender poetic youth dreams, and prays,
and paints today, but shuns the ridicule of
saying aloud, shall presently be the resolutions
of public bodies, then shall be carried as
grievance and bill of rights through conflict and
war, and then shall be triumphant law and
establishment for a hundred years, until it gives
place, in turn, to new prayers and pictures.
-Emerson On Politics
"Cautious, careful people always casting about to
preserve their reputation or social standards
never can bring about reform. Those who are
really in earnest are willing to be anything or
nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly
and privately, in season and out, avow their
sympathies with despised ideas and their
advocates, and bear the consequences." Susan B.
1. Ones worth is inborn it is not measured by
ones social status or wealth or race or
gender. 2. We all have a Natural genius, we are
all worthwhile. No one exists simply to serve
someone else. 3. Insist that your life matters
and is not to be lightly thrown away or wasted.
The influence of Kant Act always in such a way
as to treat others never as a means only but
always as an end in themselves. One must never
use someone as if they didnt matter. Everyones
purposes matter one must always take account of
those purposes when one acts. Never treat a
person as a thing. The Golden Rule Do unto
others as you would have Others do unto you.
"The day will come when men will recognize woman
as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in
councils of the nation. Then, and not until then,
will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal
union between the sexes that shall result in the
highest development of the race." Susan B.
Fuller called for complete equality between males
and females, and compared the struggle for
women's rights with the abolition movement. She
insisted that all professions be opened to women
and contended that women should not be forced to
submit to the men in their lives husbands,
fathers, or brothers. The book was highly
controversial in its time critics believed
Fuller's notions would destroy the stability and
sanctity of the home. Some objections were lodged
on religious grounds as her ideas were
considered contrary to the divine order. I am
the poet of the woman the same as the man, And I
say it is as great to be a woman as to be a
man, And I say there is nothing greater than the
mother of men. -Whitman, Song of Myself
Whitmans poetry was the first to celebrate
ordinary men Women, and ordinary life, rather
than classical themes I saw the marriage of the
trapper in the open air in the far west, the
bride was a red girl, Her father and his friends
sat near cross-legged and dumbly smoking, they
had moccasins to their feet and large thick
blankets hanging from their shoulders, On a bank
lounged the trapper, he was drest mostly in
skins, his luxuriant beard and curls protected
his neck, he held his bride by the hand, She had
long eyelashes, her head was bare, her coarse
straight locks descended upon her voluptuous
limbs and reach'd to her feet.
Do you know so much that you call the meanest
ignorant? Do you suppose you have a right to a
good sight, and he or she has no right to a
sight? Do you think matter has cohered
together From its diffuse float, and the soils on
the Surface, and water runs, and vegetation
sprouts For you only and not for him and
her? --Whitman, I Sing the Body Electric
I know that all the men ever born are also my
brothers, And the women my sisters and lovers.
The grass. . . is a uniform hieroglyphic, And it
means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and
narrow Zones, Growing among black folks as among
white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I
give them the same, I receive them the same.
What is commonest, cheapest, easiest, nearest,
is Me --Whitman, Song of Myself
This is the meal equally set, this the meat for
natural hunger, It is for the wicked just same as
the righteous, I make appointments with all, I
will not have a single person slighted or left
away, The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby
invited, The heavy-lipp'd slave is invited, the
venerealee is invited There shall be no
difference between them and the rest.
--Whitman, Song of Myself
No greater men are now than ever were. A singular
Equality may be observed between the great men of
the first and of the last ages. Kingdom and
lordship, power and estate, are a gaudier
vocabulary than private John and Edward in a
small house and common days work but the things
of life are the same to both -Emerson,
A note on freedom
The meaning of the word freedom has undergone
an evolution in American history. In the early
days of the Republic when Americans said we are
a free people they meant that they were a
sovereign nation, no Longer under the dominion
of England. They meant independence Later the
word came to have a primarily domestic
usage Americans boasted of their freedom meaning
that they were politically free. They voted,
they decided what policies would be. This became
associated with democracy. Americans were free
because they lived in a democracy
Under the influence of Romanticism free came to
have a third meaning to be able to live as one
wanted, free from the requirement to live as
others lived, free from the requirement that
they live according to the morality of their
communities. John Stuart Mill expressed this
new sense in his classic work On Liberty
All good things which exist are the fruits of
originality. Eccentricity has always abounded
when and where strength of character had
abounded and the amount of eccentricity in a
society has generally been proportional to the
amount of genius, mental vigor, and courage which
it contained. I am not aware that any community
has a right to force another to be civilized.
If mankind minus one were of one opinion, then
mankind is no more justified in silencing the one
than the one - if he had the power - would be
justified in silencing mankind. The despotism of
custom is everywhere the standing hindrance to
human advancement. -John Stuart Mill
Protection therefore against the tyranny of
the magistrate is not enoughthere needs
protection also against the tyranny of the
prevailing opinion and feeling against the
tendency of society to impose, by means other
than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices
as rules of conduct on those who dissent from
them, to fetter the development, and if possible,
prevent the formation of, any individuality not
in harmony with its ways, and compel all
characters to fashion themselves upon the model
of its own. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859
In On Liberty Mill proposed a rule for the
acceptability of government and social action
that has since become the standard around which
Romantics rally The sole end for which mankind
are warranted, individually or collectively, In
interfering with the liberty of action of any of
their number, is self- protection.The only
purpose for which power can be rightfully
exercised over any member of a civilized
community, against his will, is to prevent harm
to others.
This means that we cannot coerce or compel
anyone To act a certain way just because we think
it is Morally correct or respectable or
normal. People are free to live as they wish as
long as their Actions dont directly harm someone
else. They may be unconventional, offensive,
eccentric, Weird, rude, and even immoral in the
eyes of others, But they have a right to be so
without interference From others. And if people
find their behavior unacceptable, they Are free
to try to persuade the weirdos to change Their
ways but they may not compel them to do so.
Mill continues Human liberty requires liberty
of conscience. . . Liberty of thought and
feeling absolute freedom of opinion and
aentiment on all subjects. . .the principle
requires liberty of tastes and pursuits of
framing the plan of our life to suit our own
characterof doing as we like, subject to such
consequences as may follow without impediment
from our fellow creatures, so long as what we do
does not harm them, even though they should think
our conduct foolish, perverse, or wrong.. . The
only freedom which deserves the name is that
of pursuing our own good in our own way so long
as we do not attempt to deprive others of
theirs, or impede their efforts to attain it.
Mill uses a quote from Wilhelm von Humboldt As
the epigram for his book The grand leading
principle . . . is the absolute and essential
importance of human development in its richest
Emerson agrees Whilst I do what is fit for me,
and abstain from what is unfit, my neighbor and I
shall often agree in our means, and work together
for a time to one end. But whenever I find my
dominion over myself not sufficient for me, and
undertake the direction of him also, I overstep
the truth, and come into false relations to him.
I may have so much more skill or strength than
he, that he cannot express adequately his sense
of wrong, but it is a lie, and hurts like a lie
both him and me. Love and nature cannot maintain
the assumption it must be executed by a
practical lie, namely, by force. This undertaking
for another, is the blunder which stands in
colossal ugliness in the governments of the
world. It is the same thing in numbers, as in a
pair, only not quite so intelligible. I can see
well enough a great difference between my setting
myself down to a self-control, and my going to
make somebody else act after my views but when a
quarter of the human race assume to tell me what
I must do, I may be too much disturbed by the
circumstances to see so clearly the absurdity of
their command. Therefore, all public ends look
vague and quixotic beside private ones
It was Mill, himself a very proper Victorian
English gentleman, who put forth the idea that a
society needed to encourage eccentrics because,
he said, they are a laboratory for social
experimentation. It is they who try things out
that should not be first tried on a large-scale,
things that most of us would be unwilling or
afraid to try. We all benefit, Mill argues,
because we can learn from these experiments, and
then incorporate whatever works and avoid
whatever doesnt. Let those hippies experiment
with free love-- if all goes well, perhaps
we can loosen the conven- tional rules about
courtship to allow pre-marital sex and living
together before marriage.
Every law, every convention or rule of art that
prevents self-expression or the full enjoyment
of the moment should be shattered and
abolished. Puritanism is the great enemy. The
crusade against puritanism is the only crusade
with which free individuals are justified In
allying themselves Malcolm Cowley (1898-1989),
literary critic
Anti-authoritarian in religion, in politics, in
education, across the board Anti-Puritan
freedom to enjoy ones self, to enjoy free
sexualiity, to enjoy drugs. . . Freedom to
explore alternative lifestyles, to be eccentric,
to be nonconformist
What Woman needs is not as a woman to act or
rule, but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to
discern, as a soul to live freely and
unimpeded.Men think that nothing is so much to
be dreaded for a woman as originality of thought
or character. --Margaret Fuller
It should be remarked that, as the principle of
liberty is better understood, and more nobly
interpreted, a broader protest is made in behalf
of women. As men become aware that few have had
a fair chance, they are inclined to say that no
women have had a fair chance. --Margaret
I give the sign of democracy, By God! I will
accept nothing which all cannot have their
counterpart of on the same terms. --Whitman,
Song of Myself
I have urged on woman independence of man, not
that I do not think the sexes mutually needed by
one another, but because in woman this fact has
led to an excessive devotion, which has cooled
love, degraded marriage and prevented it her sex
from being what it should be to itself or the
other. I wish woman to live, first for God's
sake. Then she will not take what is not fit for
her from a sense of weakness and poverty. Then if
she finds what she needs in man embodied, she
will know how to love and be worthy of being
loved. --Margaret Fuller
"I cannot witness