Emily Dickinson: An Evolving Transcendentalist

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Emily Dickinson: An Evolving Transcendentalist

Post  Fermin Liu on Fri May 15, 2009 12:13 am

If I were making this judgment only based on last night's homework, then I would immediately agree to the opinion that Emily Dickinson was a Transcendentalist. But rushing into a decision seems so hasty and imprudent, so I will critically analyze what I felt from her overall work and the life style that she led:

When I was first introduced to Dickinson in 7th grade, I used to picture her life as one of serenity and peace, accompanied with the green of the trees and the glamour of a big house. I used to find the way she lived appealing and I used to think that the reason she was such an insightful, prolific poet was that she secluded herself which must mean that she had a much closer connection with essence and creativity than those artists that live and take part in the society. But now, after having read her biography and her poems, I feel something about Dickinson that I have never felt in her poems before: fear. Have I been too naive to see it all along? I think I have because reading her poems now as a sophomore, I have a totally different view of what Dickinson's life was like. Whether she was hiding herself in her room out of the fear of not being accepted by the society or whether it was just her life-long whim, I do not know. But I am thinking that it was the latter. Smile

Even though Emily Dickinson had only been known to have loved one man who ended up not returning that love in her life, I don't think that experience would have scarred her for life. Neither would her formidable father who was mentioned in her biography have had any adverse effect on her. I have always idolized Dickinson for her noncomformity and choice to ostracize herself from society, so I think that these somewhat "bad" experiences in life only helped her better understand the world somehow. I mean it seemed from the biography that these experiences were not exactly key contributing factors to her way of life (maybe a little, yes) but rather, it was just her wish to stay at home and thus, in doing so, she led a happy life.

How else would Dickinson have had so much creative potential to make such great poems? She must have known the secret; she must have been happy in her own way. Surprised A lot of people think that because she was scared of the society or was unhappy, she locked herself in her own bed room and cam out only once in a very long while. Yet, because happiness is such a vague idea (a type of energy that is ultimately different for eveyrone inregarss to each individual's source of happiness), no one today or in Dickison's time, can ever say that she led a truly unhappy life. Maybe she liked it... Of course she loved her reclusive way of life, or else why would she have continued living like that? I don't think it was fear of the society that kept her from stepping outside her house; it was more like her own freewill that did that. But why not fear? It is evident that it was not fear who "kept her hostage in her bed room" becasue in reading Dickinson's poems, we know that she believed in the concepts of Transcendentalism- she understood nonconformity, interconnectivity, unique potential, and most importantly, that the labels of society are often invalid. affraid Dickinson makes me wonder so much about the restrictions that exist in the laws of society, which is another reason why I think Emily Dickinson was a Transcendentalist. A person in the mental institution may be diagnosed as "mentally unstable" or "crazy" by the scientific doctors, but really, their actual diagnosis comes from the rules of society and how many rules the "insane person" has broken and how far he/she ahs deviated from the normal exxpectations in behaviour by the world. Thus, there is no insanity or disease really; what if being "mentally unstable" allowed one to understand the true world that lies behind the mask of pretense better because his/her "unstable mind" may actually just be a hyperenergetic flow of potential energy within that person. If viewed in that way, society would stop having mental institutions, but we still have them (lots of them if I may add) because most of us om this planet still have not discovered the fundamental truth that Dickinson seems to have known and conveyed in each of her ninenteen poems we read for homework last night.

From some of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson, "I Never Saw a Moor," "Exultation Is the Going," "Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church," I felt intuition and her connection with it as well as her courage and beginner's mind in trying to discover this collective unconsciouness. In "'Faith' Is a Fine Invention" and "Much Madness Is Divinest Sense," I can hear Dickinson going on and on about the restrictions that societal human beings have put on themselves and the importance of a positive mindset to access the common essence. Then, in most of her other poems, one central message resonated loud and clear: the cycle of life and the interconnectivity of everything. With all these supporting evidence of the Transcendentalist elements in her poems, isn't it so obvious that Emily Dickinson was a Transcendentalist?

Hold on! Wait! What about one of her earlier published poems "This Is My Letter to the World" and some of the not-so-positive remarks she made in "'Hope' Is the Thing with Feathers" and "Success Is Counted Sweetest"? Has she ever doubted and feared? Has her ego-mind ever got to her to the point that she no longer cared about the bigger picture but rather what people thought of her? (Yes, and most likely YES to the 2nd question too.) But since "This Is My Letter to the World" was of Dickinson's earliest published poems, I think that at this time, she could have had doubts and fears, but as she continued to explore and tap into that universal consciousness, her mind then truly transcended all the ego-minds logic and sciences, and so, she finally believed fully in Transcendentalism in the end.

In the beginning Dickinson was afraid; she was like the rest of the people who have not felt interconnectivity yet, those people who care so much about what others thought of them, which thus, “exults” the ego-mind to a degree of idol ness. However, I think that as she stayed in her bedroom looking at the world from high(er) above, she could she a bigger picture as well as the fake niceties of the society. Without the distractions of sciences and society, Dickinson was free to go into essence and feel herself a part of It like Thoreau did in nature which was discussed in Nature by Emerson. Maybe Dickinson did not feel and experience on a physical level like the rest of the people of her time, but she certainly felt a whole lot on the quantum and nonlocal domains. cheers So, I have reached my conclusion: Emily Dickinson was an evolving Transcendentalist who gradually rid herself of her own doubts and fears and quieted the ego-mind to feel one with the Supreme Being. Very Happy

P.S. Please go and read the comment I left for Joyce's post on Emily Dickinson which has really opened my eyes and given me a lot of new thoughts regarding the topic. Thank you! Very Happy
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Fermin Liu

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