Transcendentalism vs. Anti-transcendentalism

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Transcendentalism vs. Anti-transcendentalism

Post  Michael Chen on Wed May 13, 2009 12:09 am

Both of the anti-transcendentalists, Melville and hawthorne, included transcendentalist aspects in their writing. In Melville's case, we see a certain respect for nature and its forces that Transcendentalists had through a display of the formidable strength of nature. Also, we see certain aspects of transcendentalism in the character adn their actions and development. One of the major characters', Captain Ahab, take on Moby Dick was a task beyond "proclaimed" physical possiblities due to all the physical odds. It shows the uncontainable nature of human soul and spirit even in an individual that is maimed and even further physically limited. Hawthorne, like Melville, displays a respect for nature with a certain reverence that is shown in his writing. Nature is often an asylum and a healing spot where human sins can be washed away and Hawthorne recognizes that. Also, Hawthorne in a sense recognizes transcending spirits beyond the physical world when he places his characters in a situation where death is a liberation (Dimmesdale's death and confession).
Both Melville and Hawthorne however, take a much less optimistic view in comparison to the transcendentlaists. The characters in Melville's story, Moby Dick, are all balanced on both ends of the scale of goodness and evil. One of the major characters, Captain Ahab, has the desire to hunt down Moby Dick with motives that are both bad and good such as pride and revenge. The mixture of these two strong emotions and feelings create an obsession that will eventually drive Ahab to his own adn Pequod's destruction which depicts a scene that will contradict the optimistic view of teh Transcedentalist. Also, even when driven by such powerful inner force, Ahab's primary and only goal still falls short which can be said as contradictory to the Transcendental belief of unlimited human potential. The spirit in Melville's eye then, can transcend but only by itself. Hawthorne, like Melville believes in a balance of evil and good and in his novel depict will and desire as an addition to good and bad. He sees evil as a necessary component of this world and find that no ideal would rid the world of it. Also, Hawthorne, having experienced complete isolation, writes and dives deep on the profound effect of human isolation which contradicts with the connectivity of all things believed by transcendentalists.

Michael Chen

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Re: Transcendentalism vs. Anti-transcendentalism

Post  JTizzel on Wed May 13, 2009 12:35 am

Your post reminded me of the limited physical Ahab is encapsulated in having unlimited thoughts and motives to hunt down Moby Dick. This relates to myself. I twisted my knee many times and the reason i come back and play more basketball is because i love playing ball. Limited physical movement, limited dribbling angles, limited vertical jumps, yet unlimited motivation and passion to dunk on you. Ahab, although his leg was basically wrecked, still had the initiative and passion to take action. Thoughts create reality is evident in Ahab. Unlimited potential is great but the value of it weakens if its used for a bad cause.
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Re: Transcendentalism vs. Anti-transcendentalism

Post  BC on Wed May 13, 2009 1:22 am

Hathorne does dwell deep within the opposite of the trans, his negativity, as u mentioned forms a powerful clash between the hopeful positivness that emerson expresses. Hathorne and Mel's display of the more dark and evi side also contrasts with the calm tranquility of Thoreau's ideals. This leads me to think that, we seem to have followed the path that goes toward giddy happiness, which isnt bad, but an experience of the darker side would probably provide us with a taste of another perspective. Going Razz everyay would be positive, and allow us to fcus more, but Mad a few moments would allow us to form contrasts. These would help a lot to the exploration of our innerself too. Taking Ahab for an example, one leg of his is gone, yet althrough he shhows hr certain hysterical insanity, he still motivates the crew to accompany him to own Moby dick. In a calm, innerself state, people might follow one, because they themselves are too controlld by ego mind to formulate ideas, but look at how Ahab did it, he wasnt some calm peaceful thingamajig, he was a blasting beast!!! Yet everyone still follows him.... just a thought... no difference between the positive and negativity?

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