I don’t really understand this line “That the colour-line a long as it exists there will white people will continue to be inferior and more dominant than those of colour.” There are also some spelling and grammatical errors in this post.
I agree with the sentiment though. It is sad that throughout history, it is white man who feels he is superior to anyone else. Its Ironical that a tan was sought after by many of the white people ( me included) because the darker skin represented health and vitality. There always has been a divide between not only white and black, but wherever the dominant race or religion sees someone who is different. I am sure it is fear of the unknown. White people, and other majorities need to educate themselves about other people, and not just say that “because there are more of us, we are right, and everyone else is wrong”. After all “we all bleed red”..
Category Archives: American Writing
The picture reminds me more of Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy than this Robert Frost poem. weird eh. the picture is of course very appropriate for the poem. The man in this poem had come out to kill himself and then decided against it. In Master and Man, Vasili killed himself by his mere stupidity. I have looked at the phenomena of deep snow… It acts as an absorber of sound…similar to soundproofing in a music studio. Much like space… in the snow, nobody can hear you scream.
Sarah that was a nice quick review of the two leaders in this field. I am just getting into the teachings of Thoreau. Very interesting. I am wondering about other leaders in this movement, or where the influences come from. I read about a lady in the movement last night. Also we need to remember that they were influenced by Swedenborg, whose teachings William Blake rejected.
I like Thoreau’s idea of living in the moment, which is what a lot of meditation is based around these days.
In our American Literature class, we have looked at Mark Twain as a person who can write from Experience and from the heart. He is able to sympathise and identify with the common man. Mark Twain had a family, which is not often written about.
Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) married Olivia Langdon in 1870. ‘Lily’ as she was known was a constant companion for her husband, accompanying him on lecture and book publishing tours. Lily often edited Twain’s work, sometimes somewhat critically.
The couple had 4 children, and while each gave them joy, they also brought heartache. None were without their troubles.
Langdon Clemens was the first born of the Clemens children. He was the only son. Langdon was born premature in 1870. It was a hard pregnancy for Olivia when she contracted Typhoid fever. While Mark Twain was busy writing witty stories and columns, he spent a lot of his time nursing both Olivia and Langdon. Olivia’s father Jervis died that same year. Langdon got a cold on one of the journeys in April 1871 and died after it developed into diphtheria. He died in 1872 aged just 19 months. Twain blamed himself for his son’s death.
Second born was Olivia Susan Clemens. Suzy was born in March 1872. She was a happy playful girl who at times became very deep in thought when trying to understand aspects of life and its struggles. While the family was overseas and Suzy at college, she contracted Meningitis and died at age 24.
This is the headstone of Suzy’s grave which is in the Clemens plot in Elmira New York, Composer Dan Forrest was searching for some lyrics to go with a song which he had written for a little girl’s funeral. He found this epitaph in the graveyard close to his home. Dan wrote Good Night Dear Heart from the words of Mark Twain.
Clara was the third of the Clemen’s children. She was born in 1874 and spent most of her early years being home-schooled as she travelled with her father. Clara was sent to boarding school in Berlin for later schooling. The whole family moved to Austria in 1896 so that Clara could study piano. Following her mother’s death in 1905 Clara had a nervous breakdown. in 1909, she married the Russian composer Ossip Gabrilowitsch. Her father died not long after that and Twain did not get to see his only grandchild, Nina who was born not long after. Clara was the only one of the Clemens children to live a long life, and she died aged 88 in 1962.
Jane (or Jean as she was nicknamed) Clemens was born in 1880. When 18 years old, she developed Epilepsy. Twain said of Jean, “There was never a kinder heart than Jean’s”. During her childhood, she gave most of her allowance to charities and had a heart for animals. Jean began two charities for the protection of animals and because of this love, her father had bought her a farm. Jean’s epilepsy was severe at times, causing her to have spells in sanatoriums for her recovery. She was never alone, and a trusted maid accompanied her on shopping trips and helped Jean with her daily needs. On Christmas Day 1909, she had a fit while in the bath and was drowned.
Twain was heartbroken. “She was all I had left, except Clara, who married Mr. Gabrilowitsch lately, and has just arrived in Europe.” Twain said to gathered journalists on the morning of her death. “My daughter was trimming the tree yesterday and I was helping her,” he said. “She was so anxious that the lads and lassies of the neighborhood should have a tree, so we brought this one in and began to trim it for them. Tomorrow there were to have trooped in to see the tree and to get presents from it”.
A life full of sorrow and grief. Mark Twain died just 4 months later, in April 1910 of a heart attack in Redding Connecticut. He was buried alongside the others in the family who had passed before in the family plot in Elmira.
Apologies with some of the typesetting. I bet Twain never had these problems.
Some of the websites visited:
Mark Twain has been called “the Father of American Literature” and his work Huckleberry Finn the Great American Novel.
Samuel Clements was his real name. He took the name Mark Twain after his time as a riverboat captain on the Mississippi river; Mark Twain meaning deep water, of a safe place to passage.
Mark Twain is taken, on face value, as a humourist. He was the master of colloquial language. This is what brought him success as a writer.
A lot of his writing comes from his own experiences. While looking at his biography, I was amazed at how much he did during his life. Twain tells us to write what we know. It is because twain had a lot of life experience that his writing could be so diverse and plentiful.
Twain knew what it was like to be poor, he knew what it was like to have plenty…and then to lose it all again. He started life as a poor boy who had to leave school at 10 to work in the mines. He made a lot of money with his works and with his lectures and essays. Twain was a master in the newspaper and magazine world while he was still working in the area. Then he lost it all when he invested in a printing or typesetting machine that was too complex to run.
Mark Twain became outspoken in his later years and spoke greatly against Imperialism. America was going to war with Spain to make the Phillipines an American territory. Twain thought at first that America was trying to liberate the Phillipines to create a new republic with their own government. It was when he discovered that the Phillipines were not to be free but come under the power of an Imperialist American government, he penned a short prose entitled The War Prayer.
This is a dramatised version of that short story.
Mark Twain was saying to us, to think before we act or even pray. For praying for victory in battle is to pray that some fellow humans lose, not only their battle, but their lives.
Twain accomplished something that I too wish to do with my writing. While my main mission remains the same… “to bring beauty to those who cannot see it for themselves”, I choose also to highlight the atrocities of war, of cruelty and injustice done to all people of the world, in hopes that by highlighting, people who in a position to stop the abhorrent acts committed against fellow human beings, may read my words and be persuaded to act.
Twain told us that in remaining silent, we perpetuate the lie that all is well. To ignore atrocities is to endorse them. Let us act with compassion towards our fellow humans. If we as single voices cannot cause change in the hearts of a regime who promotes injustice and inhumane acts, then we as a collective can do more by uniting our voices, in protest against those acts. We need to make our voices public.
Twain by writing the War Prayer was voicing his disgust at the senseless violence of war. By writing Huckleberry Finn, he was using sarcasm and irony to voice his opinion about slavery. The novel is in fact about freedom. Freedom not only of the slave Tom, but freedom for Huck, from people who would bind him, cause him to conform to society and their practices.
In every culture there seems to be an importance placed on music and dance. The music and dance of a culture tells stories of ancestors and events that have happened in the past. Passing on the dance and the song keeps the story alive. One is able to connect with the spiritual aspect of a culture by viewing or participating in the dance of that people.
For the Native American people, it was and still is important to keep the story of the Ghost dance at Wounded Knee in the hearts and minds of the generations to come. This story is similar to the end time prophecies in the bible. All the dead shall no longer be dead but we will be able to dance with them. There will be no more tears and crying, no wounded or sick. People will be happy and will have enough provisions. The buffalo will return, the white man will be no more.
It was the great native American dream. That the land would be restored to them, that the white men would leave and the animals would once again roam on the plains. This is the promise of times to come, not for now. If the native american were to hope for it in this current age, then I am afraid they will be a little disappointed. In fact, the white man has not finished taking land from the natives. President Donald Trump has allowed the Dakota access pipeline to go ahead, encroaching on Sioux land, and potentially poisoning the waterways that give the Sioux nations their drinking water.
For African people, and African American people, the dance is not something that they make up but one that is passed on from generations before. The dance is spiritual, embedded in them from birth. The moves are not new, they are ancient and have meaning.
Likewise, the Australian Aboriginal people have dance and music as part of their culture. They tell stories of events by portraying animals and other things in nature in the dancing. Literature for the native people groups around the world may not be a written language but a language, with stories, fiction and non-fiction being told in the dance. To the native people of these countries and more, dance is not something for entertainment but to pass on the knowledge of what came before. It is a spiritual connection with nature and with the ancestors.
The American writers who coined the term transcendentalism were of the belief that one has more to learn from one’s connection with the earth, and nature, than in schools or books. These writers were anti-establishment, and therefore anti capitalist in thought.
Studying Emerson’s “Nature” and “Self Reliance” reminded me of the following story. It is a story that asks the question: Why is money so important?
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
Our capitalist society builds the reliance on money. Where does it takes us. Jesus said “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but to lose his soul?” When we strive after money and things, we can sell our own soul. We can give up that which is important to us.
I can bring back here the question of if colonisation was good for the native people of a land. People seemed content with what they have, until they are told they can have more, better, faster, stronger things. How often do you update your mobile phone? Native people who are not westernised, are content until the west interferes.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson and Thoreau ask us to be individual. To have our own thoughts and ideas, to forget what has come before and reinvent new ways to do things. But is anything original anymore? Emerson and Thoreau were of the same school as Blake, Coleridge and Wordsworth before them. Blake became disillusioned with his mentor/pastor Swedenborg, but Emerson and Thoreau embraced the man’s teachings; primarily because Swedenborg was also against establishments, particularly organised religion.
We should all think for ourselves. If one is to follow Jesus, it should not because others have told you that is the correct things to do, but that you have a personal revelation; you discover for yourself that a Messiah is for you.
One person in Australian culture from the 80’s that was truly an individual who thought for himself was Mark (Jacko) Jackson.
Jacko called himself “A genuine original”. I am sure that nobody would argue with that.
This post is my attempt to put a little fun and interest into what is a dry topic in literature. I hope you have enjoyed it, and it has gone a little way to helping you understand transcendentalism.
I just had an epiphany myself. I have been doing the same thing. As a Gay man, I felt totally rejected by the Christian Church when I came out. Before coming out, I was denying who I was, while in church. I have been striving ever since to find a church that will compromise on the issue of homosexuality, or being accepting of gay people but conservative on other areas of teaching. I can stop searching. I will never find a perfect church, because while it may be perfect for me, it will be imperfect for others, or visa versa.
In the words of U2, I still haven’t found what I am looking for. But you know what, it doesn’t matter. I don’t need a church to justify my belief in God. The church says “follow the leader, follow the rules of those who have gone before. Thoreau says to travel the road less worn, to make your own way. Emerson says to be self – reliant, trusting your gut instinct, your intuition.
For those who are getting caught up in Gay Marriage debates around the world, I say, do not listen to the voices or politics to sway you into voting one way or another. Rely on your gut, and vote your own way no matter how the crowd is swayed. ( sorry to get political).
I hope this post has been informative, and insightful to you, Please leave a comment.
Each man must walk his own journey. One must not look merely at the teachings of the elders of before but be a leader of our own spiritual journey.