Friday, August 29, 2014

Bullying Emerson - Ralph Waldo Needed It Early and Often


Ralph Waldo Emerson would have had a traumatic childhood had he grown up on the south side of Chicago. Hell, everyone who grew up on the south side had a traumatic childhood.

Catholic kids were taught stuff like this -
Fecerunt itaque ciuitates duas amores duo, terrenam scilicet amor sui usque ad contemptum Dei, caelestem uero amor Dei usque ad contemptum sui - (Two cities have two loves: the earthly by the love of self , even to the contempt of God, the heavenly by the love of God unto the contempt of the self) St. Augustine from City of God
Therefore, there can only be One Big Shot. That will not fly in Waldo's world, clever chiasmus, or not Man trumps God always and everywhere to the Captain Obvious and Moses the Law Giver of the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Congress of American Death to Israel Committees - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson would have had a horrible time had his early childhood development taken place in eight years on the hoof of the 1950's and the shank of the Age of Aquarius at 1821 W. 80th Street. We would have bullied Emerson unmercifully, not because of his name, his income, his atheism-Lite, and certainly not because of his academic achievements.

We would have taken young Ralph Waldo to task for 'acting like a big shot.'

In the words of Billy Cullina - " He wasn't acting."

South siders* and Catholic schoolyard survivors do not -

  • Cut in line no matter how long the queue at restuarants, theatres, ot funeral homes
  • Snap fingers to get the attention of waitresses, waiters, sommeliers, papparazzi, ward-healers or any working member of the American service industry
  • Say " Do You Have Any Idea to Whom You Are Ignoring?"
  • Mention Any Award Received
  • Take Praise Very Well
  • Act in Any Way Like a Politican, unless one happens to be one and that is why Confession is so important to us

Pretense is the Original Sin in my shrinking parochial world. The world of the Catholic American is getting to be as comfortable as spun glass Jockeys, or the ticking clock sounding for a Chaldean Christian .  American Pretension begins with 19th Transcendentalism which, begat Abolition, Prohibition, Abortion and NPR.

Transcendentalism is set of contrarian opinions disguised as logic.  Come to a conclusion by any means or measure and you win.  You are the smartest gal, guy, or Non-Euclidian enthusiast  in the room.
RWE -I protest!
Me -Against what?
RWE- What do you got?

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, George Ripley, Theodore Parker and until he snapped out of it Orestes Brownson were a band of Yankee Brothers and Unitarian ministers who came up with Transcendentalism which rejected Locke, Berkley, Hume, Spinoza and other 18th Century thinkers who refused to believe that they themselves came up with the Rules and how to boil the penultimate egg.

These lads were very Enthusiastic about themselves and managed to maintain what passes for American Thought right up to this very minute.

Now, had Ralph Waldo been a contemporary of mine, he might not have attended a Roman Catholic grammar school.  After Vatican II had done it's business, yes, that could have taken place; but, I seriously doubt if the son of a Unitarian preacher man could have enrolled, much less matriculated from a Catholic school within the Papacies of Pius XII, or St. John XXIII.  Pope Paul VI would have nodded Ralph aboard, but by then he'd be in middle school.

There was a fine Lutheran K-8 at 83rd & Paulina, Timothy Lutheran, but that faith is almost as Papist as High Church Episcopalian.  Nope.  Ralph Waldo would have attended Clara Barton Elementary, still extant at 7650 S. Wolcott.

Ralph Waldo would have more than likely attended Clara Barton Elementary. There, he would have been schooled by disciples of John Dewey, who was only slightly less pretentious than Ralph Waldo and his boon chum Dave Thoreau.

Emerson, Ralph, Waldo Emerson for some silly reason is one of the most quoted Americans.  Emerson is nothing if not trite, but nowhere near as trite as Henry David Thoreau.


   Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!  Lie down in a deep hole filled with rabid rats and venomous snake and you will never lie anywhere else!

My personal most laughable Emersonian knot of knowledge is this - "Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist."  Rather, Whoso would be a huge pain in the ass must do what Waldo do!

It ain't just me - an aging close-knit ethnic Catholic school yard survivor and original thinker -no less a wet-livered intellectual square-headed agnostic than Henry Louis Mencken offers this -

ONE discerns, in all right-thinking American criticism, the doctrine that Ralph Waldo Emerson was a great man, but the specifications supporting that doctrine are seldom displayed with any clarity. Despite the vast mass of writing about him, he remains to be worked out critically; practically all the existing criticism of him is marked by his own mellifluous obscurity. Perhaps a good deal of this obscurity is due to contradictions inherent in the man's character. He was dualism ambulant. What he actually was was seldom identical with what he represented himself to be or what his admirers thought him to be. Universally greeted, in his own day, as a revolutionary, he was, in point of fact, imitative and cautious - an importer of stale German elixirs, sometimes direct and sometimes through the Carlylean branch house, who took good care to dilute them with buttermilk before merchanting them. The theoretical spokesman, all his life long, of bold and forthright thinking, of the unafraid statement of ideas, he stated his own so warily and so muggily that they were ratified on the one hand by Nietzsche and on the other hand by the messiahs of the New Thought, that lavender buncombe. . . .Thus Emerson, on the side of ideas, has left but faint tracks behind him.
We are, all of us, Catholic, Jew, Muslin, Lutheran, Swabian Methodist and guys who like their Knockers Up and Beers Ice Cold, bullied by Emerson and his disciples - it takes pretense to define people we do not know. Those who would define me as a scion of white privilege and  persistent sexual arousal syndrome, or PSAS,  demand that I conform to Emersonian nonconformity.

Ralph Waldo Emerson ?  Not so much.

* south siders are indisguishable from traditional American Roman Catholics in their outer deportment, manner of speech and intellectual heft, no matter the race, religion or Raison d'être: Buck Weaver (Baptist), Paul Vallas ( Greek Orthodox) Danny Levi ( Jewish), Davvy and Wayne Krieger (Lutheran) are identical to Father George Clements, George Connors, George Wendt, Robin Tunney, or Sheriff Mike Sheahan. 

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