Find this Emerson quote for me!
January 13, 2005 6:03 AM   Subscribe

I should be able to find this, but google isn't treating me well. There is this quote which I thought was by Emerson, but now I'm not sure... It goes something like "I will say one thing today and say the opposite thing tomorrow and defend it strongly." (Obviously I'm no quote expert, but that's the gist of it). Any help appreciated.
posted by pissfactory to Writing & Language (6 answers total)
It's almost certainly in Self-Reliance, which is a great essay. Perhaps something like:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
posted by josh at 6:13 AM on January 13, 2005

I love Emerson. His collected essays is one of the best books I own.
posted by josh at 6:14 AM on January 13, 2005

Wow- cool. I saw bits and pieces of that quote chopped up, but not in it's entirety so I missed it. Thanks!
posted by pissfactory at 6:20 AM on January 13, 2005

Yeah, I had a great week this summer when I would walk down to the Charles River in Boston and read Emerson and Thoreau (for a big exam for which I was studying, true--but still). I can't think of much writing that's more inspiring than Emerson's essays and speeches.
posted by josh at 6:24 AM on January 13, 2005

Ah, if I'd gotten here earlier I'd have been able to help there. It is great stuff, and greatly misunderstood, I might add. Stanley Cavell has some great essays on Emerson (& Thoreau), if you want further insight, and Richard Poirier's book "Poetry & Pragmatism" was also really enjoyable.

Not that you're suddenly interested in Emersonian scholarship, but I find it hard to resist bringing them up anyway.
posted by mdn at 6:49 AM on January 13, 2005

As an aside, I'm also fond of Uncle Walt:

"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"

--Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"
posted by papercake at 9:16 AM on January 13, 2005

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