Archive for April, 2008

Final Paper

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Final Project            Throughout the duration of this course, the authors we have analyzed yielded their specific ideas and perspectives regarding both society and the non-human. Despite the abundance of readings dissected, Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Always Running by Luis J. Rodriguez project strong imagery which remains embedded in the mind. Though the two authors differ in style they leave the reader with an appreciative sense of the world, and the beauty that fills it. Through different perspectives Emerson and Rodriguez together project appreciation for the non-human, and the views from which they are taken provide excellent variability for the readers’ relatedness to the works.            In the poem Always Running, Rodriguez describes the troubled life that an individual becomes infused with. With calamities such as poverty, fear, and abandonment the individual finds refuge in the only natural aspect of the jungle that is his home. The river and its soothing remedies allow for the relaxation and healing of the mind, a way to escape the harsh realities of the only life he knows. The poem reveals to the reader the destructive effects which come about with material possessions and society. Possessions, as we see, only create problems for one to cope with. The narrator starts with the fact his car wouldn’t start for him that night, a car which a local gang recognizes as the same car once used to perform a drive by against them. If this already puts the narrator in a bad state, his wife leaves him the next morning and takes his children whom he loves dearly. Despite all of the chaos in his life, the river was always a refuge where he could think, heal, and cleanse.            Though not specifically, Emerson too writes of the hardness of societal living, using words such as “disgrace” or “disturbance” to describe what comes of it. The work Nature incorporates the spiritual and emotional dwellings that one may encounter while in presence with the non-human. He writes of enlightened feelings one should arouse when viewing nature, and how human aspects only clutter the mind and shield the beauty of it. In Nature Emerson states, “In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in the streets or villages….man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.” In context, he is saying how intense emotion engulfs one who has indeed come into contact with natural beauty, and that the beauty is what the individual makes of it. Not anyone can go into the wilderness and feel the enlightened feelings Emerson depicts. “The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood,” according to Emerson, is what it takes to truly appreciate Nature. Clearly not all human’s posses such emotions for the natural aspects of the world, however Always Running gives the down to earth reality version of this appreciation. When all is down and society seems to have entangled the mind, nature does not hesitate to relieve it. As put by Emerson, “Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a mourning piece.” No matter the individual, everyone has their own specific images of nature which, with the proper angle and light source, radiate an enlightened warmed sensation within that cannot be described. The man in Rodriguez’s text feels this emotion at the sight of the river. Once there, after cleansing himself and deep in thought about the previous night, a connection is made. The narrator begins to run, and does so after the sight of the running water. The intense running through the city may be in part out of rage, but it’s a comparison to the non-stop running of the water. The conclusion of Rodriguez’s poem states, “When all was gone, the concrete river was always there and me, always running.” This sentence alone reveals the intense connection one can make with an aspect of nature, living life with the idea that the bond between the two is life, and how indefinitely it does goes on.            Both authors relate to the sense of enlightened feelings one receives in nature’s presence, however Emerson intertwines much more with it. The work Nature as a whole revealed Emerson’s spiritual and religious values. He incorporated the heavenly realm of God and his masterful craftsmanship in the creation of our world, including Him in much of the descriptions he perceives throughout the work. “In the woods, we return to reason and faith” is a quote from Emerson which sums up the perspective of his writing style. The “reason” we feel in nature describes what Rodriguez wrote of the river in his poetry. Always Running describes this “reason” as what becomes of the narrators well-being upon sight of the water, depicting it as a place to think, heal, and cleans oneself. Though the “faith” is not depicted in the poem, (or nearly any of Rodriguez’s poetry), Emerson perceives it as when one is infused with nature, one is simultaneously infused with God and the “Universal Being.” This difference in writing style opens Rodriguez’s work to a broader spectrum of readers, who can relate easier to harder times than they can with Godly enlightenment in nature, which most individuals will never grasp.            Urbanization is a human aspect, which both authors relate to critically. Emerson only sees the sprawling effects of humans as this ugly covering, encompassing the beauty of God’s work and only serving as a disturbance to his appreciation of it. He even goes as far to say that the presence of other humans serve as part of this disturbance, and emphasizes solitary in order to embellish these feelings. Rodriguez is by far the most critical however, never failing to describe the unattractive, unsanitary, and inhospitable conditions of the city life in Los Angeles. Not only Always Running, but most of his poetry emphasize on the gross living conditions which many must live by, regardless of environmentalist ideals.  In this poem Rodriguez uses phrases such as “dumped garbage,” “dismembered furniture,” factories,” “trashcans” to depict the scenery which the narrator sees every day. The work is effective in morally grasping the reader, because not only do we see the conditions the author himself grew up in, but we realize how most of those living in Urban cities such as LA wish for a cleaner environment to live,  but cannot help but cope with the poverty that life has granted them. Emerson once noted, “A man is fed, not that he may be fed, but that he may work,” which is the truth of all beings on this earth, only the severity of it being the deciding factor.            Nature is a piece of work in which Emerson pours his values of the natural into. The work is divided into the classes Commodity; Beauty; Language; and Discipline, which together describe the world with which we live. Commodity is described as the aspects of nature as a whole. He writes how these aspects are diminishing as Urbanization continues, “how is the face of the world changed, from the era of Noah to that of Napoleon!” Beauty however, is fabulous in that it can be seen in anything. “Even the corpse has its own beauty” and “Nature satisfies by its loveliness…without any mixture of corporeal benefit” are quotes which stood out in this class because not only is it true that beauty can be found in a corpse, (thanks to Hollywood we understand that), but that nature has never asked for anything in return, no benefit intended. Rodriguez also depicts this in Always Running with the description of the “concrete” river and the dumped garbage alongside it, that one can still appreciate the Beauty in all of that with the simple flowing of the water, disregarding the negative. The class of Language in Nature is what describes the reason behind Rodriguez’s work. Emerson explains how through words, we poetically describe the world around us, how the poet and the orator have put onto paper every form and view of nature, in hopes of a perfect description. The last class Emerson addressed is Discipline, which covers the “meaning” behind it all. In summary, Discipline is the understanding that with each passing day, we gradually learn the way the world works. Understanding not only worldly processes like photosynthesis, but understanding both the mechanical and chemical makeup of it and where you as an individual fit in.  Always Running delves into this class, but at the same time tries not to address it directly. The people of LA understand that they are a part of the machine, but live day to day trying to escape the realities that come with it.            Both Nature and Always Running were both significant works perfected by their authors. Through different perspectives Emerson and Rodriguez together project appreciation for the non-human, and the views from which they are taken provide excellent variability for the readers’ relatedness to the works. Rodriguez’s poetry makes even the most sheltered individual relate to the scenery, with such descriptive imagery that upon reading the poem, one can’t help but feel the sense of hopelessness alongside the narrator. Though Emerson’s work was a bit unrealistic, the work grasped the reader, leaving him/her with a feeling of ingratitude and a lack of appreciation towards what we take for granted every day. Despite the excessive references to the “Universal Being,” his work almost converts its readers into environmentally aware individuals. Not only is one left with a greater understanding and compassion for the non-human, but changes are likely to occur in the reader’s lifestyle. Whether these changes are big or small, they are indeed changes which need to take place.  Our world and its natural aspects contain the most beautiful sights man has ever seen, and with the continued production of environmentally aware works such as these, more and more beauty on earth can be preserved.            


Thursday, April 24th, 2008

This abstract differs from my final paper in every way, having writing the paper with a different incentive in mind.

Abstract            For my final paper, the works of Thoreau and those of Emerson will be researched and compared to one another. What will be discussed will be the different perspectives on the non-human each expresses in their works, specifically the non-living, (wind, water, fire, earth), with minimal detail on the “living” non-human. Works by such authors as Muir, Cooper, and some Spanish poets such as Cardinal, will also be incorporated into the work as either in agreement or disagreement with the two main authors’ views. The only “human” aspect of the authors that will be analyzed will be the effect their works would/could have on conservation of the non-human.


Monday, April 21st, 2008

This poem doesnt deal with ecology, but I wrote it a long time ago and like it.


The Wiseman,

how to define?

is it he who knows everything,

or he who knows he doesn’t?

to what extent is one Wise?

This line we draw for the smartness of man,

And yet still divided between book and street.

What is……a wiseman?

Luis Rodriguez

Monday, April 21st, 2008

              Luis Rodriguez writes about the non-human as if it were a burden upon a persons well-being. This however is actually because the non-human is characterized much differently than the writings we have seen with past authors. Rodriguez’s work describes the difficulties that come with city life, and included is the fact that you are surrounded by concrete, this lifeless dull material, which is not exactly a pleasant sight to stare at every day. Past authors we have discussed included more of a positive outlook on the non-human, only theirs incorporated nature and its beauties, only writing about suburbia in order to compare its ugliness to natures beauty. This is though, a lifestyle, one which is all the people of LA know. The sense of “place” that they feel is completely understandable, because you when you think about it, anything you had in the past in form of personal possesions you have a connection with. No matter if it was a picture of you going into your first grade classroom or a stuffed horse you had but havent seen in ten years, you feel a sense of well-being and graditude towards it, and a connection with it is made. The same would go with the city life, because no matter how much you hate it and want to live somewhere else, so much of your life’s history is wound up inside of the “concrete river” that it’s almost impossible to forget about and disconnect from it.