Here and Now

    Before the days of reading My Sister’s Keeper and The Fault in Our Stars, I read another great book on the subject of teenage/young adolescent cancer. Before I Die by Jenny Downham was probably the first book I read in middle school that got me interested in reading. Was it possible for a book to be this interesting? Was it possible not to physically put it down? It was a true epiphany for me to read this book by Downham. She showed me that book can take you to another universe and back in just a hour.

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    Before I Die is about a teenager, Tessa, living with leukemia. She’s constantly in and out of the hospital and treatment. Tessa’s parents, who are divorced, both have different feelings about Tessa’s so-called bucket list she has put together to achieve before she dies. Tessa, on the other hand, and her best friend Zoey, try to get through Tessa’s list in a reasonable time. While entwined with her list, Tessa realizes that the simple things in life are what makes life worth living. This brings me to my connection to transcendentalism. Tessa, after a while, turns to focus on the present instead of the past or even the future. As a teenage girl dealing with cancer, she realizes that the present is what’s important and most beneficial.

     In one of the earlier parts of the novel, Downham writes, “It’s really going to happen. I really won’t ever go back to school. Not ever. I’ll never be famous or leave anything worthwhile behind. I’ll never go to college or have a job. I won’t see my brother grow up. I won’t travel, never earn money, never drive, never fall in love or leave home or get my own house. It’s really, really true. A thought stabs up, growing from my toes and ripping through me, until it stifles everything else and becomes the only thing I’m thinking. It fills me up like a silent scream.” Through time with her family and friends, Tessa learns that the past is not what’s important. She learns to cope with her ever changing feelings. Every breath she takes is leading up to her death, but then again, so is everyone else. The experience Tessa gains from her bucket list and befriending a boy named Adam was enough to keep her happy, forever.

     I strongly recommend reading this book. Actually, I strongly recommend reading anything Jenny Downham has written. Her writing style is just so captivating that, like me in middle school, you can’t put her book down. My Sister’s Keeper and The Fault in Our Stars are also good books about young people and the people around them, dealing with cancer.

Intuition

The first thing that comes to mind when I see or hear the word intuition is the separation of the brain. Do you trust your head? What about your heart? Can you trust them both at the same time?

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Anyways, one of the major tenets of transcendentalism is intuition. By Dictionary.com’s standards, intuition is: “direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension.” People alike don’t need fancy books or laws to tell them what is morally right or wrong. Believing in yourself is as important as anything else in this world.

While I was browsing the internet, I came across a very interesting picture (seen below) about intuition created by Paul Foreman. Intuition is the centerpiece and branches off into “brain”, “heart”, “higher”, “insight”, “in-tuition” and “cloud.” Foreman calls the drawing a mind map. Each branch talks about a certain topic. The first branch to the left, “brain”, strictly sticks to “left brained” kind of thinking. The next branch is heart, which is a big part of intuition. The phrase “listen to your heart” comes right from this branch. Foreman states the 4 R’s of the heart: right, real, reality, and reason. Each one of these “R’s” comes into play with intuition. After heart, is higher, where Foreman refers to a higher knowledge, something more in depth than the brain. He includes conscious and limitless to exemplify the greater and almost supernatural intuition present. Insight is next and has branches for inspiration and awareness. Second to last in Foreman’s illustration is in-tuition. Here you can develop and evolve the knowledge you already have. Lastly, Foreman writes clouds as another branch of intuition.  Foreman draws arrows to show his cloud stands for seeing beyond opinions, logic and facts.

I thought this illustration would be a good break from my usual posts. The more I look at Foreman’s mind map, the more it grows on me. I think it was a great idea for him to express his ideas relating to intuition in a different style. This just goes to show you that Transcendentalism is still very much alive in modern day art, and thinking.
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A Subject I Can’t Ignore

Okay, you’ve got me. I can’t ignore my passionate feelings anymore. I’ve been assigned to this blog for a couple weeks now and haven’t written about him. I wouldn’t be who I truly am if I didn’t write this post. What am I talking about? My obsession with Edgar Allan Poe, of course!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Who do you think you are? Edgar Allan Poe wasn’t a part of the transcendentalist movement. He was basically the complete opposite!” Yes, you bring up a valid argument my friend, but this post is not about me trying to persuade you that Poe was a part of the movement. The thing is, I couldn’t really call this cluster of posts, videos, pictures and other sorts without including Poe. Therefore, I’m not going to waste your time trying to convince the thing between your ears that Poe was a transcendentalist. Instead, I’m going to share a connection I made between Poe’s writing and Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The first time reading an excerpt from Emerson’s Nature, was in my English class last week. While we were “spirit reading” (apparently that’s all the “rage” in English classes nowadays) I decided to write down little blurbs from the story that spoke to me or just sounded cool. At the top of my list was “I become a transparent eyeball-I am nothing; I see all.” This was a very interesting sentence by my standards. Later, thinking about what it actually meant, I came up with the following: this “person” is capable of watching, but not influencing events. He can reflect upon a situation but does not voice his opinion. He is just a transparent eyeball. Whether that interpretation is correct or not, is up to you. Anyways, this blurb got me to thinking (which is something I rarely do effectively) about Poe and his use of eyes.
I needed to write at least one post about Poe and this was the only connection I could come up with. If you have ever read a piece of Poe’s works, you know that he incorporates Gothic elements and focuses on certain objects. In Poe’s Tell Tale Heart, the narrator is not able to get rid of the “evil eye” without killing the old man. The eye symbolizes the man’s identity and can’t be taken from his body without killing him. In Poe’s short story Ligeia (which was turned into a very “interesting” movie in 2009) there is another fixation on eyes as well. The narrator is incapable to see past Ligeia’s dark and Gothic eyes.
This post really didn’t go anywhere towards transcendentalism but I’d like to point out that Emerson’s eyeball is a window in which someone can look at others. Poe’s eyes are a way to peer into other’s minds. Each writer’s use of eyes have similar meanings and are symbolic elements shared between Emerson and Poe.Image

Thoughts over the Weekend

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Over the weekend, I was contemplating what to write about for my next post. I couldn’t decide whether to write about another song (I just love music in general) or to branch off to a different kind of art. After thinking for a while, I decided to shake things up a bit and write about something other than a song. Sadly, I couldn’t think of something off the top of my head. One day while I was in my room I decided to play some music from my old player which includes a radio, CD player and cassette player. I pressed play, not knowing what cassette was in the player, and “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” from The Lion King started to play. The idea struck me like a lightning bolt; I could write about Mufasa’s king speech to Simba. I don’t know why I remembered so clearly this part of the Disney movie, but I did, and it worked out.
Once Simba wakes his father, Mufasa, up, they head outside to talk about Simba’s future jobs as king. Mufasa says, “A king’s time as ruler rises and falls like the sun. One day, Simba, the sun will set on my time here and will rise with you as the new king. Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.” Simba responds with “But Dad, don’t we eat the antelope?” I do get the sense of Transcendentalism here, but it shines more when Mufasa continues and says, “Simba, let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass. And the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.” My English teacher recently gave my class a paper with a list of major tenets of Transcendentalism. One of the tenets was the super similar relationship between nature and God. What struck me during this part of the movie was the strong belief Mufasa had in nature. The fact that man (or in this case “lion”) is ageless in nature shines through during Mufasa’s speech. Nature never really dies and because man is a part of nature, neither will he.

 

If you want to watch this wonderful Disney scene, click here.

Transcendentalism through Music

Today, in my English class, we watched a video about Ralph Waldo Emerson and Transcendentalism. My background knowledge of Transcendentalism before the video consisted of becoming close to God, nature and following your gut. Oddly enough, while watching the video, my mind was stuck on the section talking about Ellen Emerson, Ralph’s first wife. After Ellen’s death, Emerson left his job, home and belongings behind for Europe. Europe gave Emerson the time to stray away from his past.

While listening the narrator talk about Ellen’s death, my mind came upon a song I had been listening to on the way to school in the morning called “Truce.” A band by the name of Twenty One Pilots sings the song. Transcendentalism contains the idea of nature playing a huge role in our lives. The lines “Now the night is coming to an end. The sun will rise, and we will try again” exemplifies the connection we have with nature. The night turns into day and we receive another chance to do something. As for my connection to the song through Ellen’s death, which comes in during another verse that says, “You will die, but now your life is free.” In my opinion, when I hear this verse, I think of death as just one stage in life. The song is saying, “your life is free” and will continue even after you die.

If you want to check out the rest of the song, (it’s pretty short) click on Truce in the post.

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Welcome to my blog! Here, on this wondrous page, I’ll be writing about Transcendentalism through popular culture. This is an assignment created by my English teacher to connect Transcendentalism to everyday life. I hope to accomplish this and much more on my blog.

Enjoy!

“Without ambiti…