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Playing Transcendentalism

May 15, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Dear readers,

Hullo!  How are things in reading stuff on the internet land?  Things are going okay here in writing stuff on the internet land.  Speaking of reading stuff on the internet land, check out this list of common misconceptions on wikipedia.  It's super interesting.  You may have already looked at this if you follow xkcd and read this comic.

Oranges and roomies
Here's me and my roomie, Bacon, after one of the performances of The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail.  Photo taken by Andrew's friend Troy.  The oranges were given to the cast by our fantastic director Lee Conrads. 

So The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail went up not quite two weeks ago, and it was quite a success!  I'll admit I was skeptical of the show at first; there are some sort of funny choices that the playwrights made that I don't totally agree with.  Also, I remember disliking the small amount of Transcendentalist writing that I had read in high school.  But sophomore year of high school was a long time ago, and I've certainly changed a lot in the meantime.  I actually found a lot to relate to in the romantic rants of Emerson and Thoreau.  While I don't necessarily agree with all the ideas they espouse, and I think that Thoreau was a little too naive in his self-perception, I really felt a kinship with their desires to be innocent and unique.  As a participant in higher education I often feel pressures to always be more intellectual and academic.  I feel as though I must be fully educated on every conceivable issue in order to be a responsible human being.  I think a big part of this results from the proliferation of media, particularly on the internet, which allows for anyone to research any topic at any given time.  Of course, "anyone" and "any topic" actually means only the people who have internet access and leisure time, and whose government doesn't censor the majority of interesting information.  I guess what I'm saying is that people throughout history have had worthwhile lives with much more narrow ranges of experience and thought than we hold as ideal.  While I don't advocate throwing away intellectual growing opportunities, I think that we should think critically before assuming that everyone should know and care about everything.  I think that sort of burden and pressure would prevent me from doing anything productive.  And probably, more importantly, I don't think it's really possible. 

I'm starting to feel a bit of Deja Vu.  Perhaps I already talked about this issue.  But anyway, I brought it up because that was one of the main things that I latched onto about the Transcendentalists; they really pushed for everyone to be different and to acquire different experiences and to care about different matters.  They sought to escape the media's promulgation of its socially homogenizing version of reality and to engage with life on one's own terms.

Of course there are issues with their ideals.  No matter how hard you try, you can't escape some sort of societal influence, so pretending that you have none can make you dangerously naive.  But it felt rewarding to inhabit those characters for the duration of the show, and to not have to worry about always being one level of critical analysis above yourself.  At some point, you have to apply your beliefs to the actual ways that you treat yourself and others, and I find that in those moments, you can't resort to meta-theory to protect your ideas in the way that you can when you're sitting by yourself and philosophizing.

Not sure how much sense I'm making at this point...  There's been an illness circulating about campus, and I'm pretty under the weather right now.

I can't think of anything else to say right now except that there was an outdoor screening of the Muppets and it lived up to all my hopes and dreams, and I'm looking forward to the musical, the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which opens on Thursday!  That is all for now.




  • May 17 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Hi, I just want to tell you that I love your "going in circles". It's a really good work!

    Thanks a lot for such a nice work! 

  • May 17 2012 at 4:52 pm
    Jon Kittaka

    Hi Silvia, thanks so much!  I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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