Is Emily Dickinson Transcendentalist or Anti-Transcendentalist

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Is Emily Dickinson Transcendentalist or Anti-Transcendentalist

Post  Kenny on Fri May 15, 2009 8:31 am

Thanks to Mike's post and subsequent reading of other posts, I've come to the conclusion that Emily Dickinsin is a bit of both, but leans more toward the anti-transcendentalist side. Practically all of her poems in the book were delivered with a sting in the tail. They'd start out all happy and hopeful and light and colorful, and then end horribly most impolitely with a "but" or a "yet." The poems with the most direct evidence of this is "I Took My Power in My Hand" and "'Faith' Is a Fine Invention."

I chose those two poems because they are what seems to be the closest to the culmination of all her work presented in the book, These two show strong anti-Transcendentalists in the ideas presented. "Power" presents the idea that no matter how powerful and confident you believe yourself to be, size does matter, whether in power of influence or physical body. Your thoughts can result in the creation of reality, if you choose to use them, by themselves thoughts are useless useless things, when people say that thoughts create reality they mean they can be used to create reality. IMO the original speaker of the quote was a funny guy that either liked to screw around with people, wanted them to learn for themselves, or thought it sounded more impressive to drop that "can be used" part or perhaps all three.

Back to the topic, so essentially, in this poem Dickinson shows us that to actually overcome someone else's size, you need to take action, turn those thoughts into reality, that's how you grow.

Then, in the "Faith" poem she's pretty straight forward on that as well. Pretty much what she's saying is: Faith is good, really nice when people discover something to believe in (this part not quite so sure, but that's how i took it) but in a real world situation it can't solve anything, you want science to solve the problem. here again, strong anti-transcendentalists ideas, also here she is referring to the predictability of the physical world, telling us that Faith is useless when it comes solving anything at all, that science and technology would get the job done much better. This is all mostly about the physical of course, Faith can serve to heal a mind, but it's science that actually changes tangible things in the world.

Dickinson still does show some Transcendentalist virtues though, in her person, not so much in her poems, it's clear that she's been exploring with her mind, while it may not be in the direction of hope and unlimited potential, she is still at least using her mind. oh, and if you'll forgive the sudden change of topic, I think the reason she has these ideas is the same reason the anti-transcendentalists work like the physical world should come first into consideration, because they DO believe that it comes first, the physical world acts as the limit for them, and while the spiritual plane has no limits and so thankfully, you wont die from crossing what you would think are limits, in the physical world you would, on the spiritual realm you might thing, hell yeah I'm gonna light that stick of dynamite, eat it and live, that's all very well to have such an invincible mindset, but in practice, probably would result in anything good.

Ok, I just woke up to write this so the ideas and presentations may be unclear, there's still a lot I've left unsaid and I know this could've come out better, but ok, I might come back to clarify some things later or write out some more new thoughts that i could push out right now.


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