Why Emerson Is Dudely

My blog’s title is inspired by my man Ralph Waldo Emerson, the 19th century philosopher whose essay “Circles” in particular had a big impact on my way of thinking. “Circles” is late Emerson, after personal tragedy had rounded off the corners of his eternal optimism, and it’s basically about incompleteness and instability as sources of insight. As we move through the world, devouring ideas and images, the incompleteness of our vision (our circle) intersects with other circles in a way that’s always liminal and partial, leaving more to be explored.

I take some comfort in that notion, as did The Stranger in The Big Lebowski, when he noted that “the Dude abides.” Like the Dude, Emerson takes all things into himself without ever compromising his core dudeness: “No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no Past at my back… Whilst the eternal generation of circles proceeds, the eternal generator abides.”

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