Form v Fact

After physically fighting against Mr. Covey, Frederick Douglass wrote “I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact”.

Douglass was a “slave in fact” when he worked and obeyed without questioning his masters and place in the social hierarchy. Even though his father was white, he never received any special treatment because he was never claimed. Douglass accepted his situation and continued to work with his head down until learning how to read. However, as time progressed, Douglass extracted the most power he could from his situation by educating himself. He continued to pursue freedom, ultimately going against Mr. Covey. After the bloody encounter, Douglass gained confidence and power against Mr. Covey since he will never be whipped again. Free from the grasp of notorious Mr. Covey, Douglass has gained advantage and is now a “slave by form”.

Frederick Douglass

I found many parallels between the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and The American Scholar by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Being a slave, Douglass has strict regulations and molds on how to act and what to think. There are no opportunities for him to seize and grow intellectually without being punished. Despite all odds, Douglass was able to learn how to read and write. After getting hold of and reading “The Columbian Orator”, he states “I read them over and over again with unabated interest. They gave tongue to interesting thoughts of my own soul, which had frequently flashed through my mind” (39). Douglass developed thoughts and ideas of this own after reading the book, which is the definition of Emerson’s Man Thinking. After adopting the power of literacy, Douglass continued broadening his ideas such as emancipation and spreading them to those who do not hold the power. He states “I therefore, though with great prudence, commenced early to ascertain their views and feelings in regard to their condition, and to imbue their minds with thoughts of freedom” (84).  Douglass is demonstrating many of the American Scholar’s functions. Emerson states that some functions of the scholar are “to cheer, to raise, and to guide men by showing them facts amidst appearances” and to be “free and brave”. Douglass exemplifies bravery by not only learning how to read and write despite threats from his white superiors, but also teaching and spreading knowledge to those who are only exposed and have accepted the appearances of the world. The scholar breaks that thought by pursuing his freedom and going against the rules set for him by slavery. Frederick Douglass is the ultimate American Scholar.

Leaves of Grass

“The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of nature… The scholar is he of all men whom this spectacle most engages. He must settle its value in his mind.” Ralph Waldo Emerson in “The American Scholar”. The most important influence to one’s own thought according to Emerson is nature. In nature is where scholars can be free to explore the mind and develop individual webs of ideas. This concept parallels Walt Whitman’s in his collection of poetry “Leaves of Grass”. The transcendentalist writes:

“I resist anything better than my own diversity,
And breathe the air and leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.

The moth and the fisheggs are in their place,
The suns I see and the suns I cannot see are in their place,
The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place…

This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and the water is,
This is the common air that bathes the globe.” (Whitman, 24)

These few stanzas were the most impactful to me as I read through the pages. Although written almost two centuries ago, his words still stand true today. Whitman states his place in nature and the word, the state of living in the present and humbling oneself to be one with nature. The humanist, one that stresses the value and importance of individualism, compares his stance to nature, a place where every organism interconnects and relies on each other in an net equilibrium environment. By surrounding himself with the fauna and flora, Whitman is able to truly be himself naturally and think freely about his place in the world.

Interstellar

My favorite movie of all time follows a story about a former NASA pilot Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers trying to find another inhabitable planet to replace the dying Mother Earth. Cooper starts out living in a farm with his children, spending a bliss and simple time with them until he gets recruited and accepted a mission to find a wormhole in order to save humanity. Long story short, Cooper, his daughter, and his remaining team were able to find the wormhole, solve the gravity equation and transport the human race to safety.

Nature and its gravitational forces were able to save humanity. Earth changed from a desolate planet with no hope to a once again thriving community with green grass and children playing outdoors. But it has also transformed Cooper internally even though he has not aged externally. At the beginning, Joe Cooper was really grounded in what he already has, such as his family, house, and small farm. The hero knew he was going to spend the rest of his life there. However, after leaving his reality and adapting within the various hurdles nature and space has to offer, the adventurist adopted different qualities. When Cooper met his daughter Murph again after his mission, she was already 99 and dying. Instead of being by her side until her passing, he walked away after a brief meeting to leave her with the rest of her family. Family was his treasure before the trip, but he now knows the value of letting go. The final scene shows Cooper stealing one of the modern generation ranger ships to find one of his crew. He has changed from a grounded man to one that can never stop exploring.

Introduction

Choosing the domain for my first blog was quite a lengthy process. I have been meaning to start a personal blog for a while, so I had to pick a name that held some significance to me and would be comfortable with sharing with others. Unfortunately I am not the most creative or articulate person; I played it safe and went with my name and favorite beverage/dessert/elixir of life.

A little bit about myself! I am currently a second year student at San Francisco State University and am cross enrolled at the University of San Francisco to fulfill my goal of becoming a nurse in the Army. I am also a part of Asian American Christian Fellowship here on campus (we meet every Thursday at 7pm). During my free time, I enjoy spending it at coffee shops either with an interesting read or a group of friends. When I am at home (rarely) I try to check movies off my watchlist or catch up with the many TV shows I follow. If you want to have a potentially prolonged conversation with me, ask me about my favorite coffee shop, ice cream flavor, or TV show.

Thanks for reading!