Modern Transcendentalism

Twentieth Century Events Influenced by Transcendentalism:

Al Gore:

“The idea that we can drill our way out of this is so absurd…” said Gore of the proposal to increase domestic oil production. "When you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

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Al Gore's voice on the environment started booming during his term with Bill Clinton in 1993. Before entering congress, Gore worked as a journalist which helped him write his books in which he discusses the Earth, environment, and global warming. In one of his books, Earth in the Balance, Gore talks about global warming, pollution, the deteriorating ozone layer, material consumption, and just about everything involving the environment. Gore argued that mankind has lost touch with the environment.Gore believes that humanity can be persuaded to reverse short-term gratification for the long-term thinking and planning and they can do this through public and private action. In his book he states that the United States must take the leading role in saving the Earth.

Emerson said "in the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages."Al Gore, like Emerson saw the beauty in nature. They believed that it was more than just trees, plants, and grass, but that it is key to our survival in life. Even though Al Gore wasn't against the government and didn't really protest, I still think he was influenced by Thoreau. Thoreau said "Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine." Al Gore stands up for what he believes in, by telling everyone about protecting the Earth he gets other people to understand and stand by him. This is what Thoreau wanted to happen when he stood up against the taxes and got placed in jail.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone:external image dvdatreyparkerandmattstone-150x150.jpg

The creators of the controversial animated series South Park, that points out the events going on in the world and portrays them in a humorous manner often bringing attention to issues we would rather not talk about.

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Trey Parker and Matt Stone have faced many protests in their pursuit of entertainment with controversial issues in the world. Many episodes of South Park point out the problems in society today. They may point them out in an exaggerated or sometimes inappropriate manner, but nonetheless the issues are still there. South Park is an animated series about four 8-year-old boys. It takes place in South Park, Colorado. Eric Cartman (farthest left) is fat, rude, and obnoxious. Kyle Brofloski (next to Carmen) is a religious Jew. Stan Marsh (next to Kyle) is the strong, silent type. Finally Kenny (far right) comes from a poor family. During the show we watch as they go on crazy adventures that point out issues today.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone have created episodes that point out the religious battles revolving around Christmas, gay rights, the "take over" of WalMart, assisted suicide, the inappropriate language on T.V., as well as many more. Parker and Stone have faced death threats, had to alter their episodes, and some of them even getting banned. Yes, their ways at expressing their opinions can be outrageous or exaggerated, but they put themselves out there and face problems head on, while making it humorous.

external image 264984-matt-stone-and-trey-parker.jpgI see Parker and Stone as transcendentalists because they fight back, questioning the government and people's views on the issues at hand. They get other people thinking while they are laughing. The episodes are rude, crude, and to the point. Thoreau thought that the power of the individual is greater than the power of the government. Even though Parker and Stone point out the issues they can tend to make fun of them, which points out the ridiculous of how much people waste their time worrying about unimportant things. This can tie in to Thoreau's view about living deliberately and how he went to live in the woods. No, Parker and Stone didn't run off to the woods but they point out the ridiculous obsessions people have on controlling everything. In a interview with Parker and Stone they state that they don't take sides they just think things are funny. Matt Stone's explanation for making fun of celebrities a lot was, "There's something uniquely aggravating about the smugness of liberal Hollywood."

They poke and prod every issue. They point out flaws, fears, and funny stuff. Getting their points across while still being funny makes them in my opinion brilliant. They make the politics, religions, and Hollywood funny. They are modern transcendentalists, not by running off to the woods but living for themselves, challenging people, and by "stopping the machine" in their own individual way.

Transcendentalism in popular culture:

Imagine By John Lennon

Imagine there's no heaven

It's easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will live as one

These lyrics were written by John Lennon in 1971. I think the lyrics of this song show that John Lennon had optimism. John Lennon believed in change in the world and non-violence. In Imagine he sings, "Imagine there's no possessions..." He is saying that he doesn't want anything that causes conflict or reasons to fight. Thoreau wanted life simplified to open the mind more so that people have to think, "Simplify, simplify, simplify." In a way John Lennon is saying the same thing. If there wasn't any religions or possessions then people wouldn't have anything to fight about. Thoreau wanted less involvement with government and I think that was what Lennon was saying in verse two, "Imagine there's no countries....Nothing to kill or die for." Yes, John Lennon's focus was more towards peace, but I think it could all relate. Thoreau and Lennon were alike in standing up for their beliefs.

Amen by Kid Rock


It's another night in hell

Another child won't live to tell

Can you imagine what it's like to starve to death

And as we sit free and well

Another soldier has to yell

Tell my wife and children I love them in his last breath

C'mon now amen, amen, amen

Habitual offenders, scumbag lawyers with agendas

I'll tell you sometimes people I don't know what's worse

Natural disasters or these wolves in sheep clothes pastors

Now God d*** it I'm scared to send my children to church

And how can we seek salvation when our nations race relations

Got me feeling guilty of being white

But faith in human nature, our creator and our savior, I'm no saint

But I believe in what is right

C'mon now amen, amen

I said amen, amen

Stop pointing fingers and take some blame,

Pull your future away from the flame

Open up your mind and start to live

Stop short changing your neighbors

Living off hand outs and favors, and maybe

Give a little bit more than you got to give

Simplify, testify, identify, rectify

And if I get high stop being so uptight

It's only human nature and I am not a stranger

So baby won't you stay with me tonight

When a calls away

to break the sound

I'm faden down, I need someone

Oh to be someone

They just sinken down, and holden back

I hold the dawn and run

They don't save a child

Oh, to save a child

It's a matter of salvation from them patience up above,

So don't give up so damn easy on the one you love, one you love

Somewhere you got a brother, sister, friend, grandmother, niece or nephew

Just dying to be with you

You know there's someone out there who unconditionally, religiously, loves you

So just hold on 'cause you know it's true

And if you can take the pain

And you can withstand anything, and one day

Stand hand in hand with the truth

I said amen, I said amen

I said amen, I said amen,


"Amen" by Kid Rock is a song about realizing all the problems in the world and wanting to make a difference and knowing people still love you. Thoreau was all about simplifying life and being more in tune with your thoughts. Kid Rock puts it like this, "Simplify, testify, identify, rectify." Thoreau felt that people should change what they don't like in the government, but also realizes what is wrong with the world. In the Self Reliance essay Emerson wrote he focused on people being themselves and I think that Kid Rock implies it in this song. Kid Rock also thinks, like Thoreau, that people need to start thinking more and live. Thoreau was a big fan of using brain power, which he spells out when he said "I went to the woods to live deliberately." Kid Rock shows this point in "Amen" when he sings "Open up your mind and start to live."

==Works Cited Page:


"Al Gore on Environment." - Candidates on the Issues., 25 Dec. 2010. Web. 16 Mar. 2011.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Self-Reliance.”

Eugene Larson. "Earth in the Balance." Magill Book Reviews. Salem Press, 1992. 2006. 16 Mar, 2011

Jeralyn. "Code Pink, Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi at Netroots Nation." TalkLeft: The Politics Of Crime., 19 July 2008. Web. 16 Mar. 2011. <>.

"John Lennon - Imagine Lyrics." Lyrics, Song Lyrics. N.D. Web. 10 Mar. 2011.

"Kid Rock - Amen Lyrics." Lyrics, Song Lyrics – Web. 10 Mar. 2011.

Lake, Dave. "The 10 Most Controversial ‘South Park’ Episodes." The Best Article Every Day. Web. 16 Mar. 2011.

Lennon, John. “Imagine.” 1971. 10 Mar. 2011

Lennon, John. "YouTube - John Lennon - Imagine." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 13540, 22 Apr. 2007. Web. 10 Mar. 2011.

Leo, Alex. "Matt Stone & Trey Parker Are Not Your Political Allies (No Matter What You Believe)." Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post., 25 Feb. 2010. Web. 16 Mar. 2011.

Madison. "Unreality - Did South Park Miss The Point?" Unreality - Your Online Portal for Movies, TV, Video Games and Unreal Stuff., 05 Nov. 2009. Web. 16 Mar. 2011.

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Miller, Joshua Rhett. "Comedy Central Censors Prophet Mohammed Reference after Threats |" | News Online from Australia & the World | NewsComAu., 23 Apr. 2010. Web. 16 Mar. 2011.

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""South Park" (1997) - Plot Summary." The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 16 Mar. 2011.

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