Transcedentalism Pop Culture Project Raevyn Strain


“I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes…”

-Henry David Thoreau, "Walden"

A prime example of nonconformity is Miley Cyrus. Over the years, Miley Cyrus has gone from childhood idol Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, to, as some would say, an out of control party animal. This change came about in August of 2009 at the Teen Choice Awards when she began pole dancing during one of her performances. Many parents and children watched is shock and awe as they saw a childhood idol doing something so risqué. It only escalated in August of 2013; her VMA performance with Robin Thicke. She has since "redeemed" her image in a way, and she certainly has mellowed out a lot.

She is still viewed as an oddity, but so was Henry David Thoreau in "Walden". Her nonconformist ways are pretty apparent in how she's been dressing and acting this past decade and it's pretty obvious that she's not changing anytime soon. Just as Thoreau was criticized for giving up his city life to live in the woods, Miley was criticized for her actions.

When Miley suddenly chopped off all her hair in September of 2012, that in a way is like when Thoreau decided to live in the woods. Most of the feedback he received was negative, much like Miley when she debuted her new look, but despite the criticisms they received, they stayed true to themselves and to what made them happy. Now, I do not think Thoreau would like an example of one of his beliefs that is this risqué, but he would probably appreciate Miley being herself.

Importance of Nature

“In the woods we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life - no disgrace, no calamity…”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nature"

The movie “Avatar” is a great example of the importance of nature, because in the movie, the main character is sent into this world to figure stuff out, and he grows to like it there. He interacts with the society and the life there, and forms bonds with them. Later on in the movie, the people who put him in the world, try to destroy it in hopes of getting the precious resources hidden beneath their tree, but the main character then goes to protect a society that isn't even his.

In the movie, the main character Jake Sully is paralyzed from the waist down, but in the world of the avatar's, he can walk, run, and jump, and this reflects the part of the quote where Emerson says "There I feel that nothing can befall me in life..." which is true because he isn't hindered by his disability anymore while there.

When the main character went to the land of the avatar's, he was greatly criticized by the man who was trying to rip out their natural resources and was killing everyone in his path. He was in shock that the main character had grown to like the avatar society, and began to strike even harsher because he felt betrayed by Jake, even though what the attacker was doing was wrong. I do think Emerson would like this, because not only was Jake standing up for what he believed in but he was also standing up for nature.

Simplified Life

“Live your life. Do your work. Then take your hat.”

-Henry David Thoreau

An example of simplified life are the people who give up the luxuries of a lavish nice sized house, to live in a tiny house. The average size for a house is about 2,700 square feet, whereas tiny houses average out to be about 240 square feet. Tiny houses are mainly designed for people who wouldn't mind giving up luxuries mainly such as a television. It would also be for couples who don't mind being in such close quarters to each other constantly. Some tiny houses are stationary, but most of them have wheels and are mobile.

Like the quote by Thoreau interprets, a way to simplify life is to live, do what you need to, and then go home. No need for excessive stressful tasks during the day. If you have free time, take advantage of that. Relax, meditate, calm down, but don't over work yourself or stress yourself out when you get home by doing extra chores.

The people who can just up and leave their comfortable, spacious houses for something that's basically a glorified RV, are very respectable, because it means they are not connected and or obsessed with any of the extra amenities or technologies that we have today, and that's very admirable. Thoreau would like this very much because transcendentalists were a very simple people, and I feel like they would respect people living in tiny houses.

Self Reliance

“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self Reliance"

An example of good self reliance is Bear Grylls. He stays out in the wild alone, fending for himself, relying on himself to be able to make the proper choices and stay alive. He has a few television shows, but his main one is called; "Man vs. Wild". He has since made many spin off shows like his original one, including one where he take seven entertainment and sports stars into remote and pristine locations all around the world for a 48-hour journey.

Much like Emerson needed a lot of self reliance, as he touches on it a lot in his works, Bear Grylls needs it as well, as he has no aid where he is. Though, while he has emergency crews on standby, no one is out there with him, meaning if there were an emergency, help would be slightly delayed. He has to have a lot of self reliance to allow himself in those types of situations.

Emerson, along with any other transcendentalist would find Bear Grylls very fascinating for the sheer fact that he will willingly thrust himself into nature, into danger, to show how he can survive by himself without needing anyone's help, is amazing! I also think that Emerson would find his strong self reliance very respectable, and like him very much.

Favoring Intuition over Reason

“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self- Reliance"

Perfect examples of this are everywhere, everyday! We are examples of favoring intuition over reason. We do what we want to, no matter how bad, silly, crazy, or weird it may be, we do it because it’s who we are! Like for instance, how we dress. We dress however we feel most comfortable. Some people wear colours that pop, and others stick to colours that are darker. Another example is the music people make. On one end of the scale, there are artists like Melanie Martinez who are childish with their lyrics, but execute their music in a fun, alternative way. One the other hand, there are country artists who write about experiences in their lives.

Just like Emerson did what made him comfortable and happy, we do also. He's also true in saying that, yes, there will be people who think they know what your doing better than you do, but you can't let them get to you, nor should you believe them, because no one knows you better than you do.

I can't think of a better example to represent this quote other than us as a human race. No one set thing, species, or object has more individuality on its own, but together, we are a wonderful hodge podge of a race. In looking at us all, there are many who make horrible choices, but there are also those of us who always try to help the good outweigh the bad, and it's those people who make me feel like Emerson, Thoreau, and any other transcendentalist would like how the human race has turned out to be over the centuries.

Created By
Raevyn Guerrero

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.