Two for Tuesday: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller
Tuesday afternoon, sunny and very windy, 61 degrees.
Today I’m tackling two people as opposed to two poems or two passages, and in so doing, I realize fully that I am barely moving beyond the surface layer of two very complex individuals. It is not hard to find a plethora of books and essays about the life and works of Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803–April 27, 1882), the so-called “Sage of Concord,” and while available research on Margaret Fuller (May 23, 1810– July 19, 1850) has not been as prolific as that on Emerson, the last 40 years have seen a resurgence in interest on the feminist icon.
Fuller, a well-known name in Women’s Studies, died tragically at the age of only 40. However, Fuller was noted for her groundbreaking achievements, including being the first female American foreign correspondent, as well as the first female combat reporter, as well as being first woman to attend Emerson’s all-male Transcendental Club. In 2013 Judith Thurman reviewed Megan Marshall’s biography on Fuller in an article titled “An Unfinished Woman,” which you can find here.
I recently read an article on Brain Pickings by Maria Popova called “The Conflicted Love Letters of Emerson and Fuller.” Admittedly, I am not an Emersonian scholar, knowing only the basics—a la Wikipedia—about the American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet; the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century is often attributed to Emerson. I also know little about Emerson’s relationship with Fuller, who was once considered the “best read woman in America.” Fuller was a prominent female intellectual renowned for her literary criticism and feminist writing, most notable of which was her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century, published in 1845, which advocated more independence for woman and broader lives beyond the traditional hearth and home.
“Ask me what I think of you & me, — & I am put to confusion.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, from a letter to Margaret Fuller
The article led me to peruse some of Emerson’s journal entries, such as some from the 1840s in which he reacts to the paradoxical nature of his relationship with Fuller. One entry is quoted in the Brain Pickings’ article:
You would have me love you. What shall I love? Your body? The supposition disgusts you. What you have thought & said? Well, whilst you were thinking & saying them, but not now. I see no possibility of loving any thing but what now is, & is becoming; your courage, your enterprize, your budding affection, your opening thought, your prayer, I can love—but what else? (September 26, 1840)
More from Emerson’s journal:
. . . When I write a letter to any one whom I love I have no lack of words or thoughts: I am wiser than myself & read my paper with the pleasure of one who receives a letter, but what I write to fill up the gaps of a chapter is hard & cold, is grammar & logic; there is no magic in it; I do not wish to see it again. Settle with yourself your accusations of me. If I do not please you, ask me not to please you, but please yourself. What you call my indolence, nature does not accuse; the twinkling leaves, the sailing fleets of waterflies, the deep sky like me well enough and know me for their own . . . You do not know me If my debts, as they threaten, should consume what money I have, I should live just as I do now. (October 7, 1840)
I do not give you my time, but I give you that which I have put my time into, namely my letter or my poem, the expression of my opinion, or better yet which in solitude I have learned to do. (October 1840)
For her part, Fuller opined regarding their relationship: more than friends, but exactly what, neither could discern:
We are to be much to one another. How often have I left you despairing and forlorn. How often have I said, this light will never understand my fire; this clear eye will never discern the law by which I am filling my circle; this simple force will never interpret my need to manifold being.
I think that what I and others find most relatable in their relationship is its very duality, the “emotional confusion” that abounded in their intimacy.
Music by Pomplamoose, featuring Sarah Dugas, “Sweet Dreams + Seven Nation Army”
“Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
After watching hours of programming on the incident in Colorado, I am actually too numb to write about this latest instance of inexplicable violence. It’s all just too much, so I’ve copped out and borrowed from someone else . . .
“It’s a lot easier to say when something ended rather than when it began. Most of us can recognize the end from a mile away, but the beginning always slips up on us, lulling us into thinking what we’re living through is yet another moment, in yet another day.”
~ Steve Yarbrough, Safe from the Neighbors (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010)
“Change, when it comes, cracks everything open.” ~ Dorothy Allison
Wednesday afternoon. Sunny and warm, mid 70’s.
I had a very weird spike in my stats yesterday, with over 1300 hits in one day. I have no idea as to why.
So . . . the past three days have been so incredibly stressful that I couldn’t sit still long enough to write, so I immersed myself in chores long overdue: cleaning out the Rodeo completely, cleaning the leather seats, putting protectant on the dash, cleaning the windows, using a wisk broom to clean up most of the stuff on the carpeting, scrubbing (really scrubbing) the wheel rims.
Of course I overdid it, leaving my back screaming at me, and having sore muscles in places that I had forgotten I had muscles. But at least I was able to sleep.
The cause of my misery? Corey forgot his Merchant Mariner’s Document. Very important. Late Sunday/early Monday he called me very upset because they were threatening to put him off the ship. On Monday, I called around and no one overnights to Lithuania, the fastest would be Wednesday sometime, no guaranteed delivery time. So I decided to use UPS as I thought that it might be cheaper than Fed Ex. I never even thought of the USPS; isn’t that terrible?
Okay, this next part is my own stupidity: Who knew that you were supposed to lie about the value of the items that you’re shipping overseas? I didn’t. As a result, the package, which weighed 1.6 pounds, cost $233 to send two-day to Lithuania; add to that the number of phone calls that Corey has made at roughly $4/minute, and the bills just keep expanding. I beat myself up pretty bad over shipping error, but at least I knew that Corey would have what he needed well before the anticipated Saturday departure date for the Ship.
“What is there then that can be taken as true? Perhaps only this one thing, that nothing at all is certain.” ~ René Descartes
Corey called me yesterday while I was at ODU waiting for Brett. I was in the middle of cleaning the car, and he told me that he was sitting in a hotel. They had put him off the ship and given him a ticket home. What???
He told them that the package was due to arrive on Wednesday, only not actually, as the tracking showed that there had been an unexplained delay . . . I got in touch with the captain, who said to send him the tracking number and he would take care of it. Did taking care of it mean that they would let Corey wait, or did it mean that they were sending him home anyway, and they would reroute the package? Sending him home will cost the company another $1300; even I can see that they would save money by putting him in a hotel for possibly another night, but no. What the hell?
I have no idea.
So the last I heard, Corey was due home at 11:27 tonight. I’ve been unable to get in touch with him, with anyone, so I don’t know if he’s on an airplane halfway across the Atlantic, or if he’s sitting in a hotel in Lithuania. I don’t know anything except that if he is indeed on an airplane flying over the Atlantic, then when he arrives, he is in going to be in bad shape.
I don’t know how it is that we went over our checklists so many times, and neither of us remembered the damned MMD. How did that happen? Why did that happen? Are we cursed?
“We are less permanent than thought” ~ Basil Bunting, from “Villon”
Was it too much to hope that our luck had really changed, that we might actually be making headway towards getting back on a normal path? I suppose so.
I broke out in hives on both Sunday and Monday nights. That hasn’t happened in a long time. And in spite of my attempts, I don’t think there’s enough manual labor in the world—little of which I am capable of performing, I have to add—that would tamp this stress and worry. And trust me when I say that this is not helping with my attempts to cut most of the sugar from my diet. On Monday morning around 8 when I got up to let the dogs out, I found myself standing in front of the fridge with a fork, eating Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake straight from the box (thanks, Mom).
To be honest, I feel quite like an old watch spring that has been too tightly wound, as if at any second the winding will stop and I will spring backwards and kind of bob back and forth. And while I have slept from exhaustion, the dreams have been bad. Take last night, I dreamt that one of my former students had put a hit out on me, and several different people were making attempts to fulfill the contract, not just one contract killer, but three. All of this happened at the local grade school. Guns were involved. It was not pretty.
“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
So that’s life at the moment. Too full, too intense, too much on the razor’s edge. Fast or feast, but not like this. Not like this. I should be reveling in the warmer weather and the sunshine. I should be appreciating the fresh air that I’m pushing into my lungs and savoring the feeling of having a vehicle that is sort of mine, again.
But I cannot, and that sucks.
Eamonn just called, and he won’t be home for a while, so I don’t have to rush through this post as I had originally thought. So in a lame attempt to try to still the madness of my mind, I thought that I would just throw out some randomness:
What is going on with all of these words on Tumblr, WordPress, and wherever else that are highlighted all by themselves? Who asked for you Enhance, anyway? It’s like fairies are dusting everything with link dust, and I don’t like it. Let me add my own links and emphasis, thank you.
Is my hair thinning? I don’t want to be one of those old ladies whose parts are about an inch wide. Yuck.
The soundtrack from A Knight’s Tale is awesome, and I had forgotten that tidbit until I unearthed the CD recently: “Low Rider” and other classics.
Alexis called me last night to complain that she had to buy a bra as big as her head because of her expanding chest size. She wanted to know if I got that big when I was pregnant. Nope, not even close, and truly thankful for that. I hate to wear a bra. I gave them up in the 8th grade, and concede only when going to work, which is not any more.
I still haven’t done the taxes or FAFSAs. Had planned to do so this Sunday, but well, you know where that went.
I used to give up chocolate for Lent, not for religious reasons, but because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I never once made it all the way through.
Did you know there is a show on SciFi called “Face Off”? It features contestants who want to make it big in character special effects. They do things like prosthetics, masks, latex, body paint, whatever. I mention this only because I caught a few minutes of one episode solely because of one of the judges. I couldn’t change the channel because this guy looked like he was wearing some kind of special effects make-up, but turns out it was just his face. Weird.
“You hold a grudge for years.
With such heaviness, how can you be modest?
With such attachments, do you expect to arrive anywhere?” ~ Rumi
Here is some more nothing fluff:
Today I used my last $10 to put gas in the Rodeo. I got exactly 2.7 gallons. What the hell? The gauge didn’t budge. Okay, maybe it budged a millimeter, but definitely not more.
My ex takes up way too much space in my dreams; admittedly, the dreams in which he appears are almost always violent, but still . . .
I probably read more poetry now on a regular basis than I did while I was an undergrad, grad, or instructor. I find that a bit odd.
Man I hate Fox Noise.
Eamonn wants to move to France. Brett wants to move to New Zealand or Australia. I want to move to Ireland. Alexis wants to move into a house. Corey does not want to move. This scenario could become problematic at some point.
I wonder if published and/or famous writers are as tortured as those of us who remain wannabes? I wonder if Tolkien ever sat around thinking, “What’s the point? No one is going to read this anyway.”
I wonder when I’ll get motivated enough to get off my ass and do something.
Did I mention that I hate everything?
I think I’ll go take a muscle relaxer and take the dog for a walk—no worries, they affect me not at all other than to make the spasms stop, so I won’t be walking into street signs; that’s the kind of thing that I do all by myself, without any pharmaceuticals.
Seemed like a good day for black and white, especially the “Not for Human Consumption” sign. Kind of like my mood and this post.
More later. Peace.
Music by Cary Brothers, “Take Your Time” (this might be a repeat, oh well . . .)
When I woke up I was in a forest. The dark
seemed natural, the sky through the pine trees
thick with many lights.
I knew nothing; I could do nothing but see.
And as I watched, all the lights of heaven
faded to make a single thing, a fire
burning through the cool firs.
Then it wasn’t possible any longer
to stare at heaven and not be destroyed.
Are there souls that need
death’s presence, as I require protection?
I think if I speak long enough
I will answer that question, I will see
whatever they see, a ladder
reaching through the firs, whatever
calls them to exchange their lives—
Think what I understand already.
I woke up ignorant in a forest;
only a moment ago, I didn’t know my voice
if one were given to me
would be so full of grief, my sentences
like cries strung together.
I didn’t even know I felt grief
until that word came, until I felt
rain streaming from me.
“Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
For our anniversary, Corey surprised me with tickets to the Apocalyptica show at the Norva on Wednesday night. We first discovered this Finnish group several years ago, and I had told Corey that if they ever came here, I wanted to see them.
Surprise for me . . .
Brett and his girlfriend Emilie went with us to the show; it was Brett’s first concert. It was a wonderful show. The Norva is not a big venue, so I didn’t have that whole crowd anxiety thing going, and Corey and I managed to grab two stools to sit on. The two warm-up bands were not bad. The first one was head-banging (my favorite . . .), but I didn’t mind them too much. The second band, 710, is a group of local boys, and they were pretty good as well. I love to hear an electric guitar played well.
But the headliner was the whipped cream on the sundae for me. I love these guys—their music is awesome, and they are so wonderful to look at, I must admit. But the things they can do with a cello . . . absolutely amazing. I’m including two videos: The first one I’ve posted before, and it’s older, but my favorite, “Nothing Else Matters,” and the second one is “Hall of the Mountain King,’ by Edvard Grieg, which they played as their final encore. Even if you don’t like them, you should watch the second one just to see how fast Perttu flies on his 19th century instrument. It is perfection in action.
I wish that I had thought to bring my camera so that I could have recorded. Corey got a few pics with his phone, but the sound is awful. A few people have posted YouTube vids of a few songs (search Apocalyptica at the Norva on YouTube if you are interested).
Enjoy. More later. Peace.
(Background: Apocalyptica is a cello rock band from Helsinki, Finland. The band, which was originally a Metallica tribute band, is composed of classically trained cellists Eicca Toppinen, who founded Apolyptica in 1993, Paavo Lötjönen, and Perttu Kivilaakso. All three are graduates of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Drummer Mikko Sirén joined the band full time in 2005.)