Hiking with RWE, Nz

bare mt

Just got back from a conference in Big Sky, MT, where we read and then discussed Emerson and Nietzsche. (The view above is from our hotel window.) It was a great conference. Much of the discussion seemed to center around the notion of liberty — how you get it, according to each philosopher. Views differed widely among the participants. Some thought it is a matter of literary sophistication — so both RWE and Nz were trying to teach us to be better readers. Others thought it all came down to finding or creating your own voice, often or always in opposition to determining forces around you. And others thought that our thinkers never really came to a satisfactory solution. We are hemmed in by hoops of necessity, as RWE put it, and at the same time there is a space for authenticity and self-determination — and, please, don’t press for details. What a delightful way to waste a perfectly good weekend!

About Huenemann

Curious about the ways humans use their minds and hearts to distract themselves from the meaninglessness of life.
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4 Responses to Hiking with RWE, Nz

  1. Rob says:

    …trying to teach us to be better readers.

    Now that is an admirably gentle way of putting!


  2. Huenemann says:

    Yeah. I’ve run into this way of interpreting before. I think it’s inspired by Stanley Cavell. In the case of RWE, the idea is that each of his essays were not really about the items mentioned in their titles (“Self Reliance,” “Nature,” etc.). Rather, they are about teaching his reader how to read about those subjects (I think). I try to be fair to this interpretation, since it is promoted by smart and careful readers, but I simply can’t get myself to believe that RWE’s (and Nz’s!) primary concern was to improve our reading abilities. It also seems a bit self-interested as an interpretation, as it’s promoted by those who are in the business of making people better readers (if that’s what lit crit is supposed to do — I’m not sure anymore).


  3. Mike says:

    I think lit-crit is designed to promote unnatural readings. It might even been the essence of lit-crit.*


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