Transcendentalists vs. Anti-Transcendentalists

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Transcendentalists vs. Anti-Transcendentalists

Post  ivy on Tue May 12, 2009 11:42 pm

Melville’s anti-transcendentalism is shown when Ahab tries to hunt down Moby Dick simply for revenge. Ahab simply sees the world from his own point of view, because he is blinded by the fact Moby Dick has to repay what it has done to Ahab. The vengeance that Ahab has felt is another part that is anti-transcendentalism, because Ahab is not a true believer that Moby Dick and he are both a part of the whole, so he should embrace the fact that Moby Dick has digested his leg and move on in his life. The anti-transcendentalist view that Melville has on Ahab is the sins the captain has within the self, because there are the downside of being human, which is when one gets in touch with the negative self that has innate human weaknesses.
The idea of transcendentalism appeared when Ahab genuinely believes he is invincible, because it is God’s will for Ahab to end the life of Moby Dick. However, this idea seems to be sarcasm toward transcendentalism, because at the end, Ahab loses his life because he assumes he has to carry out his “mission.” Another point that is important in Moby Dick is the use of nature, especially at the very end when the ship and the crew are all pulled into the vortex and gone down with the ship. Ahab’s experience is an allusion to what Melville has undergone, because Melville himself has been out in the sea, so he has a precise understanding of the wrath of nature. Melville realizes nature is a part of being out in the open ocean, and when Ahab is out there, he is personally experience nature. Nature itself is beyond the explanations of science and technology, so the only way to understand it is to experience it through the self, just as Ahab did.
Hawthorne also sees life through a similar point of view. Hawthorne points out the innately evil side of humans, which is where one commits sins and tries to conceal the fact. These are all directed to Dimmesdale who is supposed to be the “pious minister.” Hawthorne presents human beings as they truly are, because he sees through a point where everyone makes mistakes. However, he also adds in a taste of transcendentalism when Hester tries to redeem herself through turning the scarlet letter from “adultery” into “able.” Hester’s transformation itself is a statement that repels the idea that mankind is inherently evil. A sign of Hawthorne still having some view of transcendentalism within him is when Hester did not give up trying to help out. Although she has been banished from the society, yet Hester still manages to ignore the comments and does what she wants. Nature also takes a role for transcendentalism, because it is where Dimmesdale and Hester confess their love for each other and their inner feelings are communicated, like the essence.
Emerson truly believes in goodness within the people, so he does not have too much of an opinion about people being inherently evil. From Emerson’s point of view, the essences are all good; the ego mind is bad, so he does not take in consideration about sins and evilness.
Thoreau, however, sees the unlimited potential of nature and thinks nature itself is all a part of the divine, thus he does not see the need for vengeance. As far as Thoreau has seen, war is not an opportunity for one to revenge; it is simply a way for survival, which is the opposite of what Melville has thought of.
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Re: Transcendentalists vs. Anti-Transcendentalists

Post  anita on Wed May 13, 2009 2:35 am

“The idea of transcendentalism appeared when Ahab genuinely believes he is invincible, because it is God’s will for Ahab to end the life of Moby Dick.” I like this line. It does seem contradictory, but isn’t life full of contradictions? According to Emerson in “Self-Reliance,” “Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today.” So yes, even that contradiction supports the transcendentalism idea. Razz haha. Ahab does carry out his mission with passion. I was not aware that Ahab’s experience is an allusion to Melville, thanks for pointing that out to me.

“Melville realizes nature is a part of being out in the open ocean, and when Ahab is out there, he is personally experience nature. Nature itself is beyond the explanations of science and technology, so the only way to understand it is to experience it through the self, just as Ahab did.” Indeed! Does not that correspond to Emerson’s “Expericnce” essay, where he emphasizes the importance of taking action and just experience life instead of thinking about it?

“As far as Thoreau has seen, war is not an opportunity for one to revenge; it is simply a way for survival, which is the opposite of what Melville has thought of.” I like this contrast!

Good job Ivy, I liked how you presented the comparisons between the transcendentalism elements with the anti-transcendentalism elements. It was easy to follow alien
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Re: Transcendentalists vs. Anti-Transcendentalists

Post  Ajk on Wed May 13, 2009 10:17 pm

ivy wrote:Melville’s anti-transcendentalism is shown when Ahab tries to hunt down Moby Dick simply for revenge. Exactly. Concisely, immediately narrowed down to one of the key factors in accurately interpreting Melville as an Anti-Transcendentalist through his characterization of Ahab, Ivy. Excellent mastery here of these key concepts: Transcendentalism, Anti-, characterization, authors' subjectivity. Ahab simply sees the world from his own point of view, because he is blinded by the fact Moby Dick has to repay what it has done to Ahab. The vengeance that Ahab has felt is another part that is anti-transcendentalism, because Ahab is not a true believer that Moby Dick and he are both a part of the whole, so he should embrace the fact that Moby Dick has digested his leg and move on in his life. Another of the key distinctions here, Ivy. Again, excllent mastery of these concepts reflected in this advanced interpretive work. The anti-transcendentalist view that Melville has on Ahab is the sins the captain has within the self, because there are the downside of being human, which is when one gets in touch with the negative self that has innate human weaknesses. So is this, then, reflecting your own beliefs that humans do innately possess limitations?

The idea of transcendentalism appeared when Ahab genuinely believes he is invincible, because it is God’s will for Ahab to end the life of Moby Dick. Exactly. However, this idea seems to be sarcasm toward transcendentalism, because at the end, Ahab loses his life because he assumes he has to carry out his “mission.” Very likely, yes, a direct commentary by Melville on the Transcendentalists. Also, good intuitive work, Ivy, because in the rhetoric around Transcendentalism and Anti-, Melville was known to be somewhat acerbic and sarcastic towards Transcendentalism, as was Hawthorne. Another point that is important in Moby Dick is the use of nature, especially at the very end when the ship and the crew are all pulled into the vortex and gone down with the ship. Ahab’s experience is an allusion to what Melville has undergone, because Melville himself has been out in the sea, so he has a precise understanding of the wrath of nature. Melville realizes nature is a part of being out in the open ocean, and when Ahab is out there, he is personally experience nature. Nature itself is beyond the explanations of science and technology, so the only way to understand it is to experience it through the self, just as Ahab did. Good distinction here, Ivy, of the Transcendentalism present in Melville's approach towards experiencing nature; not necessarily Melville's representation of a wrathful nature, just what you've said.

Hawthorne also sees life through a similar point of view. Hawthorne points out the innately evil side of humans, which is where one commits sins and tries to conceal the fact. These are all directed to Dimmesdale who is supposed to be the “pious minister.” Hawthorne presents human beings as they truly are, because he sees through a point where everyone makes mistakes. However, he also adds in a taste of transcendentalism when Hester tries to redeem herself through turning the scarlet letter from “adultery” into “able.” Hester’s transformation itself is a statement that repels the idea that mankind is inherently evil. A sign of Hawthorne still having some view of transcendentalism within him is when Hester did not give up trying to help out. Although she has been banished from the society, yet Hester still manages to ignore the comments and does what she wants. Nature also takes a role for transcendentalism, because it is where Dimmesdale and Hester confess their love for each other and their inner feelings are communicated, like the essence.

Emerson truly believes in goodness within people, so he does not have too much of an opinion about people being inherently evil. From Emerson’s point of view, the essences are all good; the ego mind is bad, so he does not take in consideration about sins and evilness. Well, in a way, he does, doesn't he? When it is implied in his "Nature" essay, in his "all mean egotism vanishes and I become the Transparent Eyeball?"

Thoreau, however, sees the unlimited potential of nature and thinks nature itself is all a part of the divine, thus he does not see the need for vengeance. As far as Thoreau has seen, war is not an opportunity for one to revenge; it is simply a way for survival, which is the opposite of what Melville has thought of.
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