Test #2 At-Home Essay
October 22, 2012
Emerson and Thoreau Transcendentalism Beliefs
Both Emerson and Thoreau use the images of eyes, vision, and perception to properly demonstrate their transcendentalist beliefs. Transcendentalism is defined as the “idea that our spirits have a deep connection with nature and our ideas transcend to the natural world.” By using the “transparent eyeball” and other uses of perception of the whole in nature in their works, both authors establish a strong belief of perception through transcendentalism within the natural world. Their works have many parallels between them regarding perception and ultimately the use of eyes.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was a very important author whose ideas were adopted and adapted almost immediately after his works came to light. First, in Emerson’s piece, Nature, he introduces the audience to an idea of a transparent eyeball. He states, “Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball. I am nothing. I see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.” (1112). The most influential line in this quote is “all mean egotism vanishes.” This exemplifies the idea that it is not a personal experience in which he is undergoing; it is, in fact, a spiritual involvement with the natural world. By using the impression of an eyeball, it shows that he sees all and is part of nature as a whole. “The ruin or the blank … is in our own eye. The axis of vision is not coincident with the axis of things, and so they appear not transparent but opaque. The reason why the world lacks unity is because man is disunited with himself.” (1133). While things in Nature should be seen as transparent, we view them as impervious, which affects our perception within. Emerson also states, “There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he...