Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nature vs. Man

Upon first impression, Emerson seems to approach nature and spirit as intertwined, for he says, “It is certain that the power to produce this delight, does not reside in nature, but in man, or in a harmony of both,” (Nature) and, “Nature is the symbol of spirit” (Language). These two statements imply that man’s spirit and nature work hand-in-hand to produce mutual respect and understanding. I’d like to believe this is so, that our spiritual tendencies as humans derive from a deep understanding and appreciation of nature. However, Emerson later goes on to say, “The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship…The noblest ministry of nature is to stand as the apparition of God” (Spirit). If Nature is so noble as an apparition, Emerson implies that nature is like a ghost, inaccessible to human understanding, and simply able to exist. If this is so, it appears that man is not worthy, for man does not exist as a mere ghost. In fact, mankind seems to be on a quest to “know the primitive sense of the permanent objects of nature, so that the world shall be to [man] an open book” (Language). Ultimately, man attempts to make sense of everything and anything that surrounds him. Man is fighting in a self-declared Nature vs. Man battle. By doing so, it seems that man possesses insecurities: mankind fears not being all-knowing, and mankind is the alpha animal, so should mankind know all? Emerson implies that there is something to be learned from nature in this light. If nature simply exists without any attempts to manifest itself, it is considered noble. Therefore, perhaps mankind should stop employing emblems as a means to understand his surrounding objects, such as those in nature. Perhaps these objects are not meant to be understood; rather, enjoyed and viewed as equals. Emerson asks, “Have mountains, and waves, and skies, no significance but what we consciously give them, when we employ them as emblems of our thoughts?” (Language). This statement reminds me of our readings and discussions of Ponge in which he overanalyzes and examines bread. In the end, bread is bread, nature is nature, and mankind is mankind. In order for nature and man (and bread) to truly be in perfect harmony, they most coexist without a need of outdoing the other, as nature already clearly demonstrates.

No comments:

Post a Comment