Transcendentalism Pop Culture Project Ryann Gonzalez


“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.”

-Henry David Thoreau, "Walden"

In 2015, Twenty One Pilots realesed their latest album Blurryface. Throughout the years their popularity has increased, but that does not stop them from doing what they want. Throughout the album, there is some fictional character that is named Blurryface. Blurryface is something that lives in Tyler's, the lead singer's, mind. He is the darker parts inside his mind that represent the insecturites not only Tyler has, but a lot of people around the world too.

In the sixth track, "Lane Boy", it is stating how musicians are supposed to have their own lane in music and continue staying in that lane. This song states how Tyler and Josh, the drummer, will not continue making the same type of music, but will branch out. They are living up to their own expections and will not limit their creativity to fit into the current music styles. The song starts out with "They say, stay in your lane, boy, lane, boy/ But we go where we want to" and then is repeated multiple times throughout the song. It states that they are going to make the type of music they want and change it whenever they feel like it. They will not follow what everyone thinks but have their own mind set for their music. To prove that other artists follow what others say Tyler says, "All these songs I'm hearing are so heartless/ Don't trust a perfect person and don’t trust a song that's flawless." All the other songs that are being produced are the same thing over and over. They are not true if they do not come from your creativity and your own thoughts. He thinks all these artists only do what they do to reach fame and success, which is the exact opposite of the reason Tyler and Josh create music. Tyler is not changing the way he makes music to please others, but to please himself.

Throughout this album and in this song specifically, it shows some of the nonconformity inspired by Thoreau. Just like the quote, Tyler and Josh are both stepping into the music which they hear. They are switching paths and doing what they want. They are not going to listen and do what other people want to do. They may feel the pressure each time, but they move past it and keep creating the music they want. Tyler believes music should be more personal and connect more with the people who are listening. That is why he is following his own rules. Emerson and Thoreau believe that you should not follow what everyone is doing and follow your own thoughts. Tyler and Josh do not have a certain path to follow and they certainly will not follow what others are telling them to do. They want to connect more with their fans. They talk about the personal issues they have. That is why Blurryface is such an important character to this album. He is helping them realize the nonconformity in their life and to not get sucked into the fake world other artists like to talk about.

0:45- 1:00


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

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self Reliance"

In 2015, Selena Gomez released her album Revival which contains at least one song everyone can relate to. She made this album to help others with issues they are going through. Selena wanted to encourage the listens with each track on the album. In each song there is a different issue that is getting solved and this album all together proves how only you can truly make yourself happy. There is one song that truly sticks out to me and shows transcendentalism.

The eleventh track on the album, "Rise", has a powerful message saying you live your life a certain way. You get to decide how you feel and how you deal with your pain. You will soon rise above all the troubles in your life as long as you take care of yourself. Selena says, "You can tap into the strength you never knew you had/ You can breathe into your faith no matter where you are." Selena proves how you need to gain your own strength and you need to have faith in yourself to keep moving on. You are all you need to make yourself happy in life. Depending on others will not get you anywhere, but believing in yourself can get you far. Also, one line says, "Yes, I know there are those who will wanna bring you down/ But you can rise with your mind and make your higher power proud." There are going to be different things trying to pull you down, but if you think you can overcome it, you can. You do not need to listen to other people who will not try to lift you higher. You can not rely on others to get the support you need. Selena explains all the self-reliance you need throughout the song. Depending on yourself will not get you disappointed because the only thing making you have doubt is yourself. You have the power to decide what is right or wrong in your life. As Selena explains, "You can rise, like the air you can rise," she means that you can overcome others and rely only on yourself. It is aways just going to be you who deeply cares for yourself.

Just like Emerson says, you have to trust yourself. One believing they can rely on themselves is not a small step. It is a progress that will take time. Selena has explained that in the song, but eventually you will have to have self-reliance. Emerson, Thoreau, and Selena believe that having self-reliance can only improve your life. You will become more independent and it will lead you to a simpler life. Many issues could be solved if you realize you just need to to rely on yourself and not other people. That is a risk to having a more complicated life with more issues. Believing in yourself will lead you to the happiness in a simpler life.

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

Bridge to Terabithia (2007) is about two kids that feel like they do not belong with everyone else in their school. Jess, one of the main characters, does not have many friends at school and doesn't like to socialize. It was not until a new girl named Leslie transferred into his class. Jess did not plan on becoming best friends with her, but she managed to wiggle her way into his life. Everyday after school they would go into the woods and pretend they have their own kingdom, Terabithia. It was their way of escaping reality and all the troubles they dealt with in school. Leslie later passed away when she was swinging across the creek on a rope. The rope had snapped when she was swinging and Jess felt like it was all his fault that she died because he was not there with her. After Leslie's death he remembers the beauty of Terabithia and decides to share it with his younger sister.

This movie shows all the possibilities that nature has to offer. The only limitations are the ones you set. In the movie, Leslie and Jess create a whole new world in the middle of the woods. They appreciate the nature around them and create a tree house, which is their kingdom, out of the simple things around them. There is a scene where they see squirrels climbing in the trees and pretend they are the enemies trying to attack and a large tree becomes a giant trying to attack them. They created their own scenery with what was actually there in the woods. In their tree house they do the things they love and cannot get judged by anyone else. For example, Jess is a great artist, but his parents think they are just some doodles. Leslie gets him a paint set and he leaves it in the tree house so he can paint without being disturbed. Being in the woods has made them feel better with themselves then the way they feel at home or at school. In another scene, Leslie is explaining to Jess to close his eyes and keep his mind wide-open. It makes them believe there are many beautiful things in this world if you have your mind open. You can imagine all he possibilities in the outdoors. This shows Jess the true beauty in nature and what he can make out of it.

In the quote above by Emerson, it says we can return to faith and reason in the woods. In Bridge to Terabithia it showed that. After Jess spent all that time in the woods with Leslie and making all his troubles disappear, he realized as he gets older he needs to face his problems head on. By noticing the importance of nature it makes you realize how you can move on with your life. Also, in the movie Leslie states that God made this beautiful world for a reason. That is what Emerson and Thoreau had an idea about. You have to notice the true importance in God and in the nature to lead you to a more simplistic life. Leslie and Jess became grateful of the life around them in the woods. They noticed it had so much to offer for them. The movie ended with Jess being closer to his family. The only way that made that possible was spending all that time in the woods, or Terabithia, with Leslie.

Favoring Intuition Over Reason

“ Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

In 2016, Good Charlotte released their album, Youth Authority, after a long time of not producing any music. Benji and Joel Madden had helped other artists produce and write music. This led to them missing the band and getting it back together. This album was made because they wanted to release more music and they last time they released an album was in 2010. They a punk band that has helped right songs for other bands such as, All Time Low and 5 Seconds of Summer. Many bands from the 90's and early 2000's have gotten back to gather and started to release more music just like Good Charlotte.

The first track on the album, "Life Changes", stuck out to me when showing intuition over reason. They talk about how nothing lasts forever and everything will eventually change. The song starts out saying, "Going through these life changes/ Gotta keep my feet moving." Joel, the lead singer, is explaining that things will change, but you gotta keep moving forward. You got to do what you got to do in order to move on. Soon, many things will be different. You will not need a reason, you just need to know how you are going to act. Do what first comes to your mind. Another verse says, "We said we'll never give up 'til we die/ And try to help our friends, we learn to live again." Doing your first instinct may not come out as you thought, but it shows you trusted yourself and you learn from it. You have one life and you need to make the best of it. Needing a reason to do something every time will not help you. Your first instinct may not always be the best choice, but that is were we learn our mistakes. You cannot live a perfect life that has no mistakes because you base everything off of reason. There will always be a flaw. Make the most out of your life and go with what you really want. It will not put more complications into your life.

The quote above by Emerson is saying to trust your instinct even if there is no reason. Good Charlotte helps us realize that we need to trust our instincts because our life will change whether we base it off reason or not. We do not know all the possibilities life will bring us, but we can make our lives simpler by doing what we think is right. "Put your best foot forward, chip on your shoulder/ It's like you can't be beat." You have to put one foot in front of the other without overthinking. That helps you became more powerful. One way to help visualize this is by picturing that you are walking on a straight line. Overthinking it will make you lose balance, but with trusting your instincts and going for it, you will be able to walk across that straight line. Emerson and Thoreau have inspired many people to just live a simple life that is not too complicated. By trusting your instincts and not overthinking situations can help you reach your goals without many complications. Good Charlotte says we just have to trust ourselves.

Simplified Life

“Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.”

- Henry David Thoreau, "Walden"

In 2015, the Zac Brown Band released their album, Jekyll + Hyde. The lead singer, Zac, grew up in Atlanta, Georgia along with some of the others members of the band. They grew up on the countryside and express a lot of their ideas through the album. Some country songs like to touch the roots of where they grew up and share their way of living.

The fourth track, "Homegrown", truly shows a simple life. They talk about how they love the way they live even when it is not much. Zac says, "Here in a small town where it feels like home/ I got everything I need and nothing that I don’t." Living in a small town with just enough makes him truly happy and brings out the good in life. He has a piece of land with a nice home where is can sit in the sun and it is one of the best things in life. He also states, "Livin' like we’ll never die/ Come on and stay a while if you don’t believe me/ Why would I ever leave?" This proves how living in a simple way can affect so much. It will bring out the joy in your life and will minimize the complications. Thoreau says that our lives get ruined by having too much detail and we just need to be more simplistic. Zac mentions, "It's the weight that you carry from the things you think you want." Many people are always overcomplicating their life by wishing they had something they did not. People do not appreciate the things they already have and are always wanting something else. To live a more simple life, you need to love the things you already have and not always want something else. Emerson and Thoreau believe we just need the basic necessities to live a good life. They would be proud of the Zac Brown Band for living a simple life and not wanting much more.


Created with images by ahisgett - "Sunset" • MonikaP - "marigold cornflowers sunny" • GigPictures - "Twenty One Pilots, Brixton Academy, London" • Unsplash - "isolate top mountains" • Lunchbox LP - "Watch Selena Gomez Bring New Album "Stars Dance" to Walmart Soundcheck Concert!" • esiul - "insect nature live" • bmills - "Creek in the Forest" • Unsplash - "friends cat and dog cats and dogs" • 0uT$!d£r - "Good Charlotte (12)" • ** RCB ** - "life" • Karen Roe - "Willy Lott's Cottage as painted in The Hay Wain"

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