A good antidote to Emersonian optimism is good old Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. In that work, a deep encounter with nature doesn't necessarily lead to transcendental bliss, although it sometimes does. It can also lead to madness and destruction.
This comes out loud and clear in the story of Pip, the black child who sails on the Pequod and is briefly abandoned at sea during a whale chase. Pip's encounter with nature pretty much fries his brain:
The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. Not drowned entirely, though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miser-merman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyless, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities, Pip saw the multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs. He saw God's food upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man's insanity is heaven's sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at least to the celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God.
Next week: The American Scholar.
SEQUESTRATION. Here's a look at what it means. And, by the way, I'm getting sick of government by artificially manufactured crisis.
AND THE "SEQUESTERS" are dissected here by Robert Reich.
MORE ON THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MASSEY at Ken Ward's Coal Tattoo.
BIRDSONGS AND HUMAN SPEECH discussed here.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED