My Emersonian moment ends with a keynote of my fascination with child growth. Eventually, everything I have online will try to come together as a singular venture.
Emerson relates to a sense of positive freedom that’s especially American, distinct from the prevalently negative freedom of European thought. Emerson felt this difference (indicated at one point in the review, in PDF linked from my posting). It was a difference mentioned recently by Andrew Delbanco, in The Real American Dream. Europe’s modernity was premised on a negative sense of freedom, relative to centuries of domination. America is premised on a positive sense of freedom.
A friend recently quoted to me the east European writer E.M. Cioran, evidently saying somewhere “He who doesn’t envy the vegetable has missed the human drama.” The quote consistently turns up a little differently on the Web: “He who has never envied the vegetable has missed the human drama.” One may have singular feeling for the vegetable, or one may sometimes have felt one way, other times another. Anyway, we’re part of nature, thus also capable of an essentialist lack of pretense, like a child—the younger, the more biologically natural one’s expressibility. Yet, being especially human involves our specifically human “nature.”
Anyway, Cioran’s quip seems pessimistic, if not typically European. I find a picture of Cioran at his Wikipedia page. There, he looks like he hasn’t found
the lightness of being in Paris (eros of the surreal, etc.).
I don’t envy the vegetable so much as want to personify it (humanize it), as if poetic license belongs to our nature. We may bend into our garden where
the vegetation speaks to one’s serenity.
I recently read recount of the contemplative joy that Rousseau recounts—in old age, I should imagine—about his journeys out to exuberantly catalog all the diversity of life.
There’s the poet Stanley Kunitz, nearly 100, watching the garden grow
(you may already know).
At my touch the wild
braid of creation
I can scarcely wait til tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day.