Thursday, April 19, 2007

postponing one's maturity

From the Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson
April 19, 1835

It is a happy talent to know how to play. Some men must always work if they would be respectable; for the moment they trifle, they are silly. Others show most talent when they trifle. Be it said of W that his excess of reverence made it impossible for him to realize ever that he was a man; he never assumed equality with strangers but still esteemed them older than himself though they were his own age or younger. He went through life postponing his maturity & died in his error.
Emerson is 30 years old when he writes this. His journal and other writings do not show much playfulness, though there are occasional flashes of humor in them. He might be writing of himself in saying some men must always work. The fact that he doesn't identify the deceased "W" shouldn't be taken to mean that he expected the journal entry to be published and didn't wish to embarass W's relatives. It's more likely that he shared parts of the journal with his friends and found it convenient sometimes to be a bit discrete.

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