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Modern Transcendentalism

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Brianne O'Sullivan

on 16 November 2012

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Transcript of Modern Transcendentalism

MODERN TRANSCENDENTALISM Brianne O'Sullivan The Blind Side & Leah Anne Tuohy Nonconformity The Blind Side (2009) was a cinematic success that told the story of a homeless, hopeless young man who was taken in by an affluent family and reached new heights as a professional football player. It was based on the true struggles of Michael Oher, and Leah Anne Tuohy, the woman who took him in, despite social pressures to distance herself from Michael.

Transcendentalists believed nonconformity was a major aspect of becoming a pure person. The above quote relates to both Tuohy and Oher. In Oher's case, he was able to find a new, loving family and reached a goal many people view as unattainable. He did all of this by straying from his "place" in society and following through with what he wanted to do in his life, despite others' objections. Oher stepped outside of the projects and modern slums and restraints placed on poor minorities, and with the help of Tuohy was able to become a NFL football player. As for Tuohy being a nonconformist, fellow high society members looked down on her close-to-home charity and encouraged her to create a distance between her and Oher, who posed as a threat to close minded people. Even though she was harassed and ostracized, Leah Anne Tuohy stuck with her conviction of helping Oher reach his goals. By doing so, she was able to challenge the social norm and formed a close bond with someone she would have never known otherwise, Oher. Self-Reliance Bethany Hamilton Born to a family of surfers, it was only natural Bethany Hamilton would learn to ride the waves shortly after she learned to walk. She began to enter competitions where she demonstrated much promise. However, on October 31, 2003, she fell victim to a shark attack. As a consequence of the attack, she lost one of her arms and suffered through many medical procedures. At that point, most people would have simply given up and blamed fate for their tragedy. However, Bethany fought back. Only a year after the shark attack, Hamilton won her first National title; proving that if your heart is in it, you can win it. Transcendentalists would have applauded Bethany's self-reliant attitude, a trait they saw as essential.

In our culture today, not everyone would recognize Bethany Hamilton's name, yet they would recognize her story. In 2011, "Soul Surfer", a huge movie, was released and quickly became a phenomenon.

There's no doubt people must have told Hamilton she could not get back on the board, could not compete, or be half as good as those without handicaps. Despite the negativity, Hamilton believed in herself and was the one who made her dreams happen, even when she wasn't supported. She is a prime example of self-reliance because she was the main component of determining her fate, when others said it was impossible. I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. -Henry David Thoreau What a man thinks of himself, that is what determines, or rather indicates, his fate. Henry David Thoreau The Capitol Citizens Simplified Life A perfect anti-example of simplified lifestyles is that of The Capitol. "The Hunger Games" (first book published in 2008) a trilogy that became huge success. There are 12 districts, the majority of which live in squalor, because of the abusive rule of the notorious Capitol. The citizens of the capitol live luxurious lives filled with outrageous styles and forms of entertainment.

Transcendentalists believed a simplified lifestyle would bring about true happiness and a more moral and free person. If they were to see the Capitol's citizens, they'd be horrified and try to convince them their lavish lifestyles were corrupt.

The most evil form of entertainment is the Hunger Games, where two tributes from all 12 districts fight to the death on national television. Most of the districts, especially those who live simply, view the deaths in horror; whereas the Capitol's people thoroughly enjoy it. The superfluous atmosphere causes the Capitol citizens to lose any of their existing humanity and focus on the unimportant aspects of life. If they were to live simply, as the Transcendentalists suggest, they would commit themselves to being moral people and not allow materialistic things to cloud their judgement. "They do surgery in the Capitol, to make people appear younger and thinner. In District 12, looking old is something of an achievement since so many people die early. You see an elder person, you want to congratulate them on their longevity, ask the secret of survival. A plump person is envied because they aren't scraping by like the majority of us. But here it is different. Wrinkles aren't desirable. A round belly isn't a sign of success." As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness. MODERN TRANSCENDENTALISM AVATAR Importance of Nature The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common. -Ralph Waldo Emerson Released in 2009, "Avatar" was an immediate success. It centers around a tribal community trying to conserve their environment, when a more developed race of people want their land because it contains rich minerals. Their land is extremely important to them because it contains spiritual significance to their culture, much like how the transcendentalists viewed nature as an instrument of a higher power. As the quote above demonstrates, transcendentalists also thought those who appreciate nature, were the wisest and most likely to lead fulfilling lives. The protagonist group in the film show traits the transcendentalists would appreciate, such as valuing nature over material wealth.

Even though "Avatar" is a fictional film, some of the aspects of it ring true in the real world. Such as the fact we need to preserve nature and regard with respect. Nature needs to become a priority in our culture, it can't be sacrificed for simple monetary gain. An example of humans destroying nature are the African blood diamonds, where both tribesmen and wilderness were harmed for wealth. "Avatar" was able to echo transcendentalists' values and warn today's peoples of their wrongdoings. Favoring Intuition Over Reason If the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him. -Ralph Waldo Emerson Harry Potter Harry Potter, a series that became wildly popular in the past decade, is about a young wizard and his journey of avenging his parents' deaths. At a young age, both were killed by "He-who-must-not-be-named", leaving him the sole person to live despite having the killing curse aimed at him. As the series goes on, Voldemort (the name HWMNBN goes by) gains power once again and Harry must stop him by destroying Horcruxes (which allow Voldemort to come back to life). At one point in the final book, Harry is visited by a doe patronus, which he ends up following deep into the woods. Now, transcendentalists believed your intuition was more helpful than reason. Reason would have told Harry it was a trap, to not go for it. However, his instincts told him it was worth it. By following his instincts, he destroyed a horcruxe and was one step closer to completing his journey. The transcendentalists would have applauded him for following his gut and ignoring his brain.
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