TITLE: Emerson's Prescience AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: December 21, 2004 1:22 PM DESC: Emerson's philosophy may underlie agile software methodologies. Perhaps they also foresaged the blogosphere? ----- BODY: Last summer, I read E.L. Doctorow's dandy little essay book, Reporting the Universe. The book is a memoir of Doctorow's life as a writer, from heading off to Kenyon College to his approach to writing novels and academic prose. However, it opens with an essay on Ralph Waldo Emerson that I liked so much I had to jot down lots of great quotes. While cleaning up some files today, I ran across this selection:
Emerson's idea of the writer goes right to the heart of the American metaphysic. He is saying we don't have the answers yet. It is a pragmatic thing to say. He knows he is at a culminant point in literary history, where the right of authorship has devolved from gods and their prophets and their priests to everyone. ... A true democracy endows itself with a multiplicity of voices and assures the creation of a self-revising consensual reality that inches forward over the generations to a dream of truth.
Maybe I'm sensitized by recent rumination, but that sounds very much like the state of world these days, with the explosion of the blogosphere as a universal medium for publishing. The right of authorship has devolved from a select few to a much larger population, and the rich interactions among blogs and authors fosters a consensual reality of sorts. Brian Marick has written a bit about Emerson and how his pragmatic epistemology seems to be in sync with agile practices. I certainly recommend Doctorow's essay to interested readers. If you like to read what writers have to say about writing, as I do, then I can also recommend the entire book. -----