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New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Friday, August 19

imperial certitude

"With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil;
but for good people to do evil—that takes religion."

Steven Weinberg ~ A Designer Universe?

In 1845, John L. O'Sullivan published an article in The United States Magazine and Democratic Review in which he wrote that it was "our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions."

This was the first explicit reference to "manifest destiny," though the concept it conveyed was hardly unique. Or new.

I was quite excited several days ago to run across a book explicitly linking Ralph Waldo Emerson and manifest destiny. The following is from West of Emerson: The Design of Manifest Destiny by Kris Fresonke, p. 48...

...Transcendentalists still bore a lingering devotion to what by the 1840s were antique systems of providential thinking, such as the argument from design, which rendered them a harmless opposition. The sense of being outmoded eventually stirred in many Transcendentalists an ill-advised enthusiasm for what seemed the closest surviving relation to providence, namely manifest destiny...
Later (p. 89) the author writes:
Drafting his sermon LXIII in 1820, for instance, [Emerson] wrote a paragraph resolving the difficulty of understanding Providence, which was admittedly "too vast for human optics"... The solution, he mused, was to use small clues to to infer great notions, or "to pick up here & there a pebble contrivance & say see! a God! as Newton thought." Emerson was repeating (and appropriating) Newton's own biographical metaphor of himself as a child on the beach collecting pebbles; he also was sketching the intellectual processes of the argument from design.

The argument from design is a line of thought that constitutes a significant part of Emerson's philosophical activity in the 1820s and 1830s and culminates in Nature. In fact design was never so savagely depicted by Emerson as in 1820: "see! a God" seems to take enthusiasm for the argument from design to a new imbecility.

Then, having clue one to start from, I found this...

from: West of Winthrop: landscape and language in the Washington territory by Paul J. Lindholdt
source: American Transcendental Quarterly, 9/1/04
via: HighBeam Research Logo HighBeam™ Research

Literary studies of the nineteenth-century American West are refining theoretical discourse on manifest destiny further... [Richard] Slotkin gains a complementary update in a recent study by Kris Fresonke, in whose view manifest destiny effectively supplanted God as a philosophical prompt in works of adventure and exploration... Another way of saying manifest destiny, Fresonke wisely notes, is "the American territorial imperative"... Taking her cues from the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fresonke discovers "buoyant and apparently counterintuitive accounts of the dazzling abundance of nature, no longer proof of Christianity for Emerson, but of American exceptionality." ... A nature-based nativism was busily supplanting God, but to read the book of nature aright still meant to learn to descry divine designs and correspondences... to firm up one's imperial certitude.


it's not just for breakfast anymore!


btw, thanks to the mystery of Time Travel
this book was a major influence on Ralph Waldo

and look, it's recursive! a quote from the above...

oi!


the design of
manifest destiny

"as long as race is something only applied to non-white peoples, as long as white people are not racially seen and named, they/we function as a human norm. Other people are raced, we are just people." (p. 1)



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