to think for miles

Earlier this year I watched The Hours with my roommate, intended as part of a Sunday night sob-a-thon which culminated in our viewing of Angels in America. Despite the sorrowful events of the narrative, though, I found The Hours uplifting moreso that depressing. Something about its characters. They act with tremendous passion, make dramatic choices, seem to defy history and circumstance in their strenuous assertions of self. Even the suicides which bookend the movie are imbued with that psychic force. The work is deeply inspired by Virgina Woolf’s life and work, and I think it is fair to say that this portrayal of the human individual provides much of what is emotionally and psychologically compelling in her fiction. It’s what captivated me when I read Orlando, oh, two or three years ago. In her absurd romance, more about a kernel of a human being than any character, she follows a poetic mind that loves and creates over three centuries, changing genders, watching the forms of civilization mold and rot around Orlando’s timeless self.

Emerson’s early writing captivates me for similar reasons. His reveries for the self surpass even Woolf’s modernist awe. It is the object of Divinity, the center of his cosmos. It answers to nothing but its own intuition, imperial, expanding downward and heavenward. And its energy explodes off the world around it. I wonder how it would feel to live with such dynamism, to experience oneself only as an uninterrupted wave, fully integrated and unfettered for it?

It’s surely a romantic myth moreso than a possibility. I can’t even make sense of what, practically, living as an Emersonian self would mean. Bu, impractical as it may be, even the imagining of that sprawling self inspires a little awe.

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~ by staticandme on April 15, 2009.

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