Monday, December 3, 2012

Emerson and Self Reliance

Please respond, individually, to the following prompts. These are extra points so you must be reflective and thoughtful. I expect at least a solid papragraph. When you are finished, please ask a question(s). As you are writing, make sure to use specifics from the text to back up your responses and to keep questioning, challenging other people's thinking. I would like your relfection to talk not only about the text, but its application to contemporary society.

Please write your favorite quote (or aphorism) from the essay "Self Reliance" and analyze its significance. (What intrigues you about Emerson's perspective of living? How do you embrace or challenge this notion? ) You can write more than one if you wish.

Also, if you accept the challenge, I would like you to discuss what you agree with and resist when it comes to Daniel Suelo's way of living (see article-"Moab Man...")? How might his life teach us about how we live today and what we focus on and consume ourselves with?


  1. "... independent, irresponsible, looking out from his corner on such people and faces as pass by..."

    This aphorism from Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self Reliance Essay, talks about how man will take a look at what surrounds him then blend in with the crowd. He judges them on merits, for example; good, bad, silly, interesting, or eloquent. This is the way of living most people go about, originality is very scarce in the modern day. People choose to align them self with movements instead of paving they're own path through the untamed wilderness of society.

    Daniel Suelo's way of living does quite impress a man surrounded by things I use for simple tasks. He has to spend hours getting water while my lazy self can just walk upstairs and sometimes I don't even want to do that. However, I don't see anything wrong with his way of living, but I don't think anyone else can take the approach he did without living life for awhile and being unsatisfied with what they see. Or a man with a wife and kids has to support his family, he can't go play wild boy out in the wilderness. Mr. Suelo's way of living is radical, yet unpractical for American Society to embrace with open arms.

  2. "There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance;"

    This aphorism from Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self Reliance Essay, describes how during every person's education that they dread the daily routine of going to school, learning and doing the same old work every day. It shows how people want to do more in life than the exact same thing that every other person is doing and to have a greater purpose in life. We want to life live different than others because it just seems like we on the earth with no purpose.It just shows how people want more from life than what everybody else is doing. Is is possible to get an education and not be in a daily routine?

    I think Daniel Suelo's is crazy. I know that i would never want to live that life. It just seems like it has no purpose living in a cave not doing anything. I want to have fun in life and enjoy it not life in a cave because it's easy to do. He does teach us to live life to a point of not relying on possessions, but i disagree because possessions can make life fun and worth living for. Not I know it's not good to rely life on these possessions but for many people they can bring us joy. For someone to get that new car that they want they are going to need to work for it and not be lazy. This is what makes humans great and this guy is lazy cause he has nothing to strive for. His life just seems like a waste and I think that he is crazy.

  3. "The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is that it scatters your force."

    I believe the aphorism is trying to say that if everybody uses products that make simple tasks a whole lot easier, it will make it harder for people to actually complete the simple task without those certain products. For example, with the use of computers, people are able to search certain topics very quickly. What happens when people need to do book research? You will actually have to search for the certain book you need.

  4. “Greatness is a property for which no man can receive credit too soon; it must be possessed long before it is acknowledged."
    I believe this is a good quote because it is very true when you think about it in the real world. It is saying that you have to wait out something before it turns into being something really great or even seen as being something good. For example if you invent something super great your not going to get credit right away you have to wait until more people here about your invention and then you will get credit for what you did.

  5. "To believe your own thoughts, to believe what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,-- that is genius."

    This quote is significant because he is promoting being an individual. Even though society is a part of culture, a society is made up of individual people. Its how these individuals interact with each other and how they work together that creates the functioning society. If you be yourself and promote what you believe in, then you will be your own person. One should avoid conformity, even though there are some things man cannot control. Dont let people's judgements affect your actions. That is what I believe the point of this message is.

  6. "Your genuine action will explain itself and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing."
    I love that quote. It speaks to the true essence of the human race. We don’t idolize those who wait for the day to change. We idolize those who dare to change the day themselves. Through their actions we see who they are and what they stand for. In addition to that, the more they do of such things the more humanity begins to understand them. Take for instance the actions of Martin Luther King Jr. He has a purpose behind his actions and while I did not seem to make sense at first, eventually his actions explained everything anyone ever needed to know about him and what he was doing. While on the other hand, we do not know much about those who supported him, for perhaps they did not have the courage to show genuine actions. While I understand that not everyone can be given equal attention without losing individuality, Martin Luther was the man who stepped forward with a purpose that guided his actions.
    My question would have to be: Do we as a society promote taking actions for what we believe in? Is this a good thing? Why or Why not?

  7. "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but your principles"

    I believe this quote is saying that when you make mistakes you have to live with them for the your life. You should think before you do and focus on what this is going to do for your future. To pursue this, you need to have solid morals and principles and you need to trust that you are doing what is best for you life and your life only. Emerson's perspective on life is very interesting. His views on self reliance are very broad and they can relate to anyone who reads them.
    - Why does our society worry so much about whats going on in other peoples lives? Have we become more invasive of people's personal aspects of their lives? If so, how?

    1. This is a great quote and I like your ideas about the future

  8. Daniel Suelo is a very interesting character. I honor him because he is wise with what he is doing. Although I do thinks its a little extreme. I agree that we don't need all of our possessions to live a happy life. I went on a backpacking trip this summer, and you can only take so much with you. So we didn't have any form of entertainment except for each other and the beauty of the mountains. So I can relate to him in that sort of manner, but I enjoy my movies, going out to eat and spending my money to have a little fun. And it doesn't consume me, but it can consume others. We have been burying ourselves with video games, internet and television that we have almost forgotten what it is like to not have those things in our life. I do agree with Daniel Suelo on having limited amounts of belongings but I believe money or some kind of currency has become an essential to living.

  9. My favorite quote is "It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." I like this quote because I feel like I can truly relate to it. To me it means that when among others you should be true to yourself. I think living in a cave is a pretty cool idea but I don't think someone should make a life of it. I would like to try something like that for maybe like a month.

  10. "Imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better or for worse as his portion" This quote is quite inspiring if you think about it. It starts off strong by saying imitation is suicide. I think one of the main reasons I like this quote so much is because it is open for interpretation. It is not telling you what’s up, it leaves you thinking. The way I take the quote "imitation is suicide" is by thinking of it on a personality standpoint. You cannot really be self-reliant if you are trying to be someone you are not. I think that the part wraps up the first ides nicely. It says "that he must take himself for better or for worse as his portion". Here, I interpret this as saying that the only way you can truly be self-reliant is if you accept yourself for who you are. It may sound a little cliché but I think that it is a very valid point. If you try and change who you are, you aren’t really being yourself are you? However, even though this is a very important quote, I think it is very hard to follow through with. Think about trends, all trends are is changing who you are. If we didn’t imitate, who knows how far back our civilization would be. We would not be able to advance. My point is being yourself is important to a point. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity because you are too stubborn to change.

    In regards to Suelo, I personally think that he is taking this whole thing a bit too far. I mean sure, it is nice to live in solitude for a bit. I went to Nicaragua this summer without electronics and it was one of the most freeing experiences of my life, just being with people down there and talking, but I could not live without my possessions. There is a fine line between living in solitude and resisting change. I think it would be an understatement to say he is flirting with it. Quite frankly, I don't agree with his way of life, but hey, whatever floats his boat.

    What does it take for someone to fully be self-reliant? I know this is pretty broad but I would love to see where this goes.

  11. The quote I like most was " With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do" I agree with that statement Emerson made because the fact that society creates consistencies in our daily life limits our potentials as an individual. Our creativity can't be maximized if we keep on doing the same thing over and over again. Inspiration and virtue are things that allow an individual to be great, and they are the things that shape an individual. You can't hope to be inspired and virtuous by doing the same thing over and over again, in my opinion I think that you should take a day off and be a different person in your society

  12. "There is a time in every man's education whe he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is sudicide."

    I believe Emerson was saying that if you envy someone else for something they have then you're considered ignorant. You don't know what it's like to be them or how having that certain thing affects their everyday life; be happy with what you have in a sense. The fact that he says imitation is suicide greatly speaks to me. I strongly believe that by going to school, or any monotonous activity everyday you really are following the footsteps of hundreds of thousands of other people on this earth. I use this to try and improve my life and tryn to improve the life of others.

    In the article Moab Man it seems people call him and leech and he's becoming hated and looked down upon. I didn't really understand this given the fact he's doin nothing but supporting himself on next to nothing. People can learn from him because he's only living off of the necessities, no iPad or iPhone or anything, just basic food and water supplies. Maybe not to this extent but maybe people could learn to cut down on cell phone usage and spend more time creating, being outdoors, just anything productive that can improve society