Transcendentalism pop culture project Kaden Hecker


“The fault-finder find faults even in paradise.’’-Walden, Henry David Thoreau

In the movie "Into the Wild" created and directed by actor/director Sean Penn (2007), based on a true story, Christopher McCandless is a typical citizen who is fed up with the city life and decides to leave it all behind to truly experience life. He definitely shows examples of nonconformity in the way he did not fit in well with the rest of society. The struggle and pain he put himself through just to truly live naturally is something not many people would be willing to do. Chris is shown to be a very unique individual throughout the movie due to the ways he enjoys trying new things, creating shelter, and finding his own food in the wilderness. He does try going back to society for a bit after experiencing nature but quickly realizes he is meant to live from others and venture out into the deep wilderness away from the sickening urban life.

It is safe to say Chris was an inspiration to us all due to his extreme curiosity and bravery that the average person could not even begin to imagine doing. He was truly privileged with his old life in the city, but he felt he wasn't satisfied. This shows how Chris is a fault finder. That is why he is a perfect example of a non-comformist.

importance of nature

“Have mountains, and waves, and skies, no significance but what we consciously give them, when we employ them as emblems of our thoughts?” -Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nature"

The hugely successful Disney Pixar film Wall-E (2008) depicts a distant distopian future form of earth. The earth has been polluted so heavily forcing humans to flee from their land and live in the skies. Although, they are not how humans are now. They are almost all morbidly obese and have machines in their giant space ship that does literally everything for them on command. This shows how important nature is that if humans do not treat it correctly that it can be destroyed so easily. This is also trying to tell people that the human race can not live if we did not have aspects of nature.

This movie did an amazing job at depicting what could possibly be the outcome of man kind and planet earth if people take advantage of nature.

self reliance

“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.” - Self-Reliance

In 2016, the now some what well-known rapper/artist XXXTENTACION released a song titled, "I spoke to the devil in miami, he said everything would be fine". This song which has a very melancholy and depressing sound sparked attention towards X and his lyrics used in this piece. It was very controversial due to the fact that his style in this song completely changed when compared to all of his other records. His fans know him to be a very aggressive yet very deep and sensitive person and this song clearly shows how artistically talented and self reliant he really is.

In this song he says, "won't hurt me now 'cause hearts been broke". This is referring to the fact that he has dealt with a lot in the past and no man or person can ever harm him again. Therefore, making him rely on himself. Aside from this track, X also has said in many interviews and posts on social media that he listens to no one and likes to be an individual. That statement is definitely shown in his personality, songs, and persona on social media.

Simplified Life

“Live your life. Do your work. Then take your hat.” -”Conscience”, Henry David Thoreau

The wildly popular DreamWorks franchise, "Shrek" which was released in 2001 is a perfect example of a simplified life and transcendentalism. The huge, frightening yet kind hearted ogre named Shrek lives in a simple little cottage located in the middle of a swamp jungle away from all civilization. For the most part, before the main plot of the movie, Shrek had a complete routine of waking up, tending to his house, eating a lot of course, and napping.

In this film, Shrek does not do much and lives a very simple life. Although, he is okay with it because he does not need a lot to be happy. Shrek simply completes his work and does what he needs to be done then calls it a day.

Intuition over reason

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” -Walden, Henry David Thoreau

Back in 2014, a very brave young woman named Jasmine Campbell has trained in skiing for the winter Olympics for almost her entire life. Jasmine stated that even though there has been acts of terrorism has occurred in Sochi, Russia, where the Olympics were held, her "gut feeling" is telling her to still go for it even though the consequences could possibly have been deadly. Ms. Campbell is the epitome of favoring intuition over reason and shows the perfect example with her courageous actions.

Thoreau has stated before that one should not give up on their dreams even if the action is not the smartest. Jasmine clearly took that advice into consideration and she is still happy even if she is aware of the tragic possibilities.


Created with images by Giorgio Galeotti - "Into the Wild - Andalo (TN) Italy - December 28, 2014" • Ömer Ünlü - "Waiting" • Robb North - "simple"

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