History by Emerson
One of the things Emerson is adamant about in his essay ‘History’ is looking at something from one’s own viewpoint. There can be a tendency to try to find the real truth of a situation but this isn’t how life truly works. There are at least two ways of viewing every situation and story. First there is the understanding that everyone has a differing opinion which is equally valid for themselves that they may or may not be manifesting. Second, you have your own beliefs as well which are equally valid within the whole of things and are more valid with you. It is living up to this inner purpose that we really need to find.
To find inner purpose there are two things to understand. First one needs to know who they are and what they want. This is not easy though some will say it is. Secondly we need to understand that we have fixed and malleable personalities interweaving with one another on a non-conscious and unpopular *telepathic* plane.
Emerson refers directly to this in ‘History’. He states that we have all history at our fingertips. We can all be Greeks or Romans and experience the things they have gone through. He could have been referring to the fact that we humans have the ability to read. Through reading we can empathize with the author and imagine the stories and situations they recount or create. We can feel or literally relive through our actions what they pass down to us.
I believe it is more literal than that however. We can literally think what others have done through the past by reading their works and absorbing their consciousness. By hearing similar things and piecing them together to create a whole that very similar to those before us. He IS speaking of telepathy however. He states that as soon as something has entered itself into the mind of one man it has the opportunity to be known by all.
I’m certain he is speaking literally on this point. If he wasn’t he would have said that as soon as an idea becomes public it has the opportunity to be told to others until it reaches a point at which one can learn it for themselves in some way. He chose a much more direct way though. I think this understanding begins the basis of purpose.
I also think (and this just popped into my mind, don’t take it too seriously) that this is the reason for belief in God. Whether that’s a bad or good thing is probably dependent on the person. An underlying, omnipresent force which ties all things together to some extent while giving them their choice on how to live their life with vague rules about conduct does sound like God though. Keep in mind that Emerson was a preacher so that feeling would not have been too far from him.
That is the most interesting part about Emerson’s essay to me.
Other than that there is his statement that individuals must put themselves in the place of the story. They must become the characters and understand their roles instead of simply reading. This seems incredibly useful to me. It’s almost like an exercise in empathy. Through this it would seem that one could open themselves up to many different kinds of influences, not just the soft influences empathy would imply. (Not that they’re bad.) Feeling is necessary for the creation of memories. Therefore, feeling the story that vividly is a great way to remember it’s details and the things that are important to you.