Transcendentalism Pop Culture Project By Nohemi Espinoza


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

When Weezer’s song “Pork and Beans” was released as a single as part of the Red Album in 2008, it was critically acclaimed for its individuality and defiant nature that represents Weezer. The song was created to rebel against executives who pressured the band members to record more commercial material.

However, the meaning behind the song goes beyond just one song, the entire Red Album features songs that did not follow the traditional style. Songs such as "Troublemaker" and "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived" stand out from the rest along with "Pork and Beans" because of the feeling that these songs invoke as being a bit narcissistic yet embracing one's individuality. For instance, the lyrics from Pork and Beans state, "I'mma do the things that I wanna do I ain't got a thing to prove to you," promotes the individual to do as he pleases in a certain extent. Most of all, the unsympathetic attitude toward conforming is what makes this song represent what Weezer is all about. The theme of "Pork and Beans" compares well to tenet of nonconformity in Transcendentalism (the principle of not compromising yourself to traditions), because it underlies what separates yourself from the parochialism of society.

Therefore, a transcendentalist such as Ralph Waldo Emerson would approve of the rejection to the normal standard since defying conventions is what creates originality.

Self- Reliance

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but rising up every time we fail.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

In 2015, video game musician Malukah released a tribute song for the game Destiny called "Rise From The Dark." Although this song is made up of different remnants of the Destiny soundtrack, Malukah wrote and performed this song herself. This song justifies the theme of the game since it shows how undergoing challenges and finding strength with to be able to rise up and rely on your own capabilities.

In the song the reference of going through trials and awakening from symbolizes that how resilient we are toward what may pass as life's trial to test our capabilities. Hence, why we remember the lesson but not the disappointment in enduring an experience. Similarly, Malukah also included the lyrics ,"Once we learned to embrace That we're never gonna change who we were So we fight for what we'll become Raise your light and carry on through this night," to show that when we realize that we can't change how the way we were before and focus on progressing we can become our greatest self that is independent and can carry on through even the darkest of times.

Therefore, I believe that this song is an example of Self Reliance from Transcendentalism because it gives the listener self determination and an understanding of the nature of reality that we must endure in order to survive. Therefore, I believe that a transcendentalist would agree to this song's call for rising up to become our greatest self.

The Importance of Nature

"Nature always wears the colors of the spirit." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The song "The Voice" by Celtic Woman was released in 2007 as part their third album Celtic Woman A New Journey which peaked at number 4 on US charts. This encompassed the naturalistic theme that Celtic Woman beautifully represents.

The song garnered international fame and among many other things it is probably one the of the best songs from Celtic Woman. It is obvious that this song is about other nature. However, the symbolism reaches beyond what the lyrics state. In this song nature is being described as the voice that is passing by, controlling your senses, and eternal. However, there can be no creation without destruction. Nature's laws abide to a cycle of life and death not to just within our world but to all that exists. For instance, this song states, "I am the voice of the past that will always be Filled with my sorrow and blood in my fields," which makes nature sound remorseful, and it states, "Bring me your peace, and my wounds, they will heal," to explain that nature has to carry out the inevitable to give it reason. Despite the lack of regret that nature has we are no better than animals we all coexist as part of nature as one. Thus, it is important to understand that relationship with ourselves and nature runs deeper than we thought.

This voice that surrounds us can never be taken away as long we exist. Even after we cease to exist we become part of it. Therefore, a transcendentalist such as Henry David Thoreau would agree with the message behind the voice because it reminds us that there is no greater force than nature and we are a part of it no matter what we'll become long after we inhibit this earth.

Favoring Intuition Over Reason

“Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

In 2006 Tool released the song "Intension" as part of their forth album 10,000 Days. However, before the album was released lead singer Maynard James Keenan's mother Judith died after being partially paralyzed for almost 27 years or 10,000 days. Her death inspired him to create 10,000 Days.

The song "Intension" is unlike the rest of the rest of the album, but just as good the rest of the dynamic songs. Although the song sounds simple, the meaning behind Tool's songs are rarely straight forward. The song starts off with saying "pure as we begin" which can represent the beginning of our life as innocent and pure. The next line states, "Ruled by will alone," which is self explanatory. However, later on the song states, "Pure as we begin Here we have a stone Gather, place, erase so Shelter turns to home...Spark becomes a flame Flame becomes a fire Moved by will alone," which may be pointing out intuition as the force behind our will. When the first inhabited the earth they most likely followed what they had done by intuition or after learning from an experience. However, when they first learned how to make fire they probably their intuition to see if something would happen. This primal instinct that we all have is one most powerful forces we have within ourselves. You may favor reason over intuition sometimes, yet using intuition paved the way or us. Therefore, I believe that a transcendentalist would agree with the meaning behind this song.

Simplified Life

“Our life is filtered away by detail. Simplify. Simplify.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Agnes Obel's Riverside was released as a EP in 2010. Riverside exemplifies the wonder that occurs when someone goes to a secluded place to be alone and watch nature's beauty. She takes note of what she sees by the riverside and takes it in and ponders about living a simplified life. For instance, she points out, "Look at the stones on the river bed I can tell from your eyes you've never been by the riverside, " which promotes that going out of your way to set your eyes on something calm and pleasant means that you like to take in life's simplistic pleasures. She also gives off a sense that doing those simple things can be edifying. That pleasure in taking in the little things is an example of Simplified Life in Transcendentalism which is supported by many transcendentalist as being able to live purely.


Created with images by skeeze - "mountains landscape mist"

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