Friday, April 19, 2013


"There is no chance, and no anarchy, in the universe. All is system and gradation. Every god is there sitting in his sphere. The young mortal enters the hall of the firmament: there is he alone with them alone, they pouring on him benedictions and gifts, and beckoning him up to their thrones. On the instant, and incessantly, fall snow-storms of illusions. He fancies himself in a vast crowd which sways this way and that, and whose movement and doings he must obey: he fancies himself poor, orphaned, insignificant. The mad crowd drives hither and thither, now furiously commanding this thing to be done, now that. What is he that he should resist their will, and think or act for himself? Every moment, new changes, and new showers of deceptions, to baffle and distract him. And when, by and by, for an instant, the air clears, and the cloud lifts a little, there are the gods still sitting around him on their thrones, —they alone with him alone."

(The ninth chapter in The Conduct of Life, 1860 by Ralph Waldo Emerson)


Conrad DiDiodato said...


at times like this I really wonder about "All is system and gradation". The great man is wrong here. There can be no ordered whole (nor presiding deities) to be seen arising through the smoke when a young boy is murdered waiting for his dad to finish the race.

I know what's it's like to finish that race and look for the cheering friend, wife, coach waiting at the side. Everything is in that expectant smile and hug. I've run the race many times and every finish would have been little death to me save for the smile and hug, at the end.

How unspeakably cruel to kill precisely there.

Bob Arnold / Longhouse said...

Hello Conrad,

Emerson is a post, put one more nail in.

I'm afraid I have to leave alone your own interpretation of why this passage by Emerson was shared.

all's well, Bob