Transcendentalism Pop Culture Project by kylie calzada


“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good,no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given him to till" - Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self Reliance"

In the popular television show called Man vs Wild, airing from 2006 to 2011, a man named Bear Grylls takes on many difficult challenges only to rely on himself. Grylls travels all around the world in search for dangerous environments to show the world how to survive in them. Even though his camera crew accompanies him, he must only use the resources around him to create tools and shelter. Grylls takes his job so serious and wants to make the experience so real that he'll even ask the camera men to participate and follow along in his footsteps. Whether it be way up in the mountains or down low in the deserts, Grylls is able to use his surroundings to survive.

Bear Grylls definitely uses the self reliance ideas by going into the wild and using only his hands and brain to survive. He shows that you clearly do not need and man made items or technology to ''live'' in the wild. Every transcendentalist would have to agree that Bear Grylls is self reliant.


“In the woods, too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life is always a child.” - Ralph Waldo emerson, "self reliance"

In 2012, a new series directed by Gary Ross called The Hunger Games was released for the first time. In the movie the main character, Katniss Everdeen voluntarily enters herself onto a televised competition between 12 different districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are chosen at random to participate. They are then sent off to training and from there they are sent directly to the arena, an endless forest with endless surprises.

The transcendentalists often believed that it was important to keep in touch with the roots and the natural parts of life. Most of the districts are based on nature itself. For example, district four is based on fishing and district 7 is based on lumber. In district 12, hunting is a priority. Katniss uses her hunting skills to capture prey to feed her and her family. While in the arena, all of the contestants use the surrounding trees and natural substances to make shelter and weapons. Katniss is advanced at using the bow and arrow, but while in the competition she had to think outside of the box and use the branches of a tree to make her arrows. Emerson and Thoreau would love the fact that Katniss uses the environment to survive.


“What i must do is all that concerns me, not what people think. This rule… is harder bECAUSE ill always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it” - RALPH WALDO EMERSON, "SELF RELIANCE"

In the movie Soul Surfer, released in 2011, the young girl named Bethany Hamilton didn't let other peoples thoughts get in the way of her dreams. The director Sean McNamara perfectly captures the long journey that Bethany will go through. One day, the aspiring surfer went out to the endless ocean just as she did every other day but was unfortunately attacked by a shark. The attack was so brutal that when she was dismissed from the hospital she was left with only one arm. Bethany must re-learn her everyday activities and deal with people telling her that she will never do what she loves ever again. She will do whatever it takes because she believes in herself.

The transcendentalists believed in intuition over reason, meaning that you should do what you desire even if people tell you otherwise. Bethany followed her intuition when she pushed herself everyday to practice and practice. When people told her that she would never get back on a board, it just drove her back into the water. She never gave up and eventually she was better than ever. Emerson and Thoreau would greatly appreciate Bethany's drive towards her passion and the fact that she doesn't let other people get in the way.


“ That man is rich whose pleasures are the cheapest.” - Henry David Thoreau, "simplified life"

For a few years now, a very well known YouTuber Alyse Brautigam called Raw Alignment has been uploading videos about her life. Alyse dropped out of college to pursue her dream of living in Hawaii and inspiring other people to live healthier lifestyles. In addition to supporting self love, she also supports embracing natural bodies. For example, not shaving your body hair even if you are female. In addition, she advocates for minimizing our material belongings. Alyse spends her days eating healthy, working out, and inspiring other all while she captures it on camera for the world to see.

Transcendentalists believe that living a simplified life is a happy and less stressful life. Alyse only eats vegan food which contains absolutely no animal products. She also minimizes her wardrobe so she only owns about 15 pieces of clothing. She dedicates her life to healthy living. Emerson and Thoreau would likely agree that Alyse is living a healthy simplified lifestyle.


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

For the past two years, the young pop singer Miley Cyrus has dramatically changed her look and music style. As most people know, Miley had to put on an innocent face while playing the role of Hannah Montana. Most people can agree that she was not truly being herself, but being who she felt like she had to be for her fans. One day Miley had enough and decided to change the way she would appear to people. Instead of being a conservative little girl she turned into a provocative woman.

The Transcendentalists believed that people should not conform to society, that we should be our own individual self. Miley Cyrus has been performing in ways that go against the safe and mainstream culture that she has been following for so many previous years. She has not been afraid to be out of the ordinary. Emerson and Thoreau would love the fact that Miley is able to overcome the society we live in and be her complete self.


Created with images by Tamara Areshian - "Armenia. Nature" • domeckopol - "water turtle reptile nature" • lwpkommunikacio - "Bear Grylls" • Vivian Farinazzo - "Nature." • cluczkow - "ocean" • esiul - "insect plant nature" • iculori - "nature 012"

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