What Affects Our Perception?

                        Emerson suggests to us that “life is a train of moods” (473), as we pass through each mood we  see different things.  Does Emerson suggest  that our emotions affect  our perception of nature and the world? If  each mood has its own “lens” does  that suggest that when we grieve  we see  things as cold, bitter  and gloomy,  or when we are happy  do our perceptions show things as radiant  and beautiful than they really are.  Are we independent variables, ever-changing within the constant of nature. What we see is really what we feel but not really what it is.    It is  a glimpse of an image , a subjective experience, like Turner’s paintings showing “not a full formed vision but one like a dream.”  “There is no end to illusion,” as Emerson puts it.

            In life we attempt to gain perspective of our place in the world and how we should engage in it.  This attempt guarantees uncertainty.  “Ghostlike we glide through nature, and should not know our place again” ( 471 Emerson).  This uncertainty affects our perception as well, leaving it vulnerable to confusion.   Therefore, we are not able to see the demands of nature.   We are not able to see the gifts that nature has given us because we are too focused on our own “material existence.” Emerson says, our friends appear to have ideas, but never use them.  I think it is a pessimistic view of how we use our knowledge and potential. It is not that we use  it incorrectly but that we don’t use it at all, letting it go to waste. We have  the “thought” and “power” but we never take the initial step to obtain it or accomplish  anything with it (477).  

            However, Emerson compares nature to that of a mother(478). We should not question, but accept the demands of nature.  Emerson suggests to us that men do not show off their beauty. “It has to be found at the right angle like a Labrador spar (477).” But when we are “turned at the right angle” we show our beauty and talents and successful men know when to “turn” and show off their luster.  If we learn how to  connect with nature and accept what it has given us, does that suggest that our perceptions have become less flawed?

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4 Responses to What Affects Our Perception?

  1. Dominique says:


    You bring up a number of important questions here, not the least of which has to do with the relationship between emotion and perception. Continue to think about this as your read Dickinson.

    “Experience” is written after the death of Emerson’s son, Waldo. In it, as I think you see, he struggles to understand the relationship between a relative world (and the train of moods we experience within it) and an absolute “Nature.”

    The way you have woven Emerson’s phrases into your own has made for a fluid, provocative response. Excellent first post!


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