A critical analysis of the classic essay
By Elliott Feedore
Okay, so — technically — I was supposed to write about that essay “On Self-Reliance” (1841) by Ralph Waldo Emerson — that guy who used to hang out with Thoreau a lot back in the day. Well, I started it, and it was all “I read the other day some verses” this, and “Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles” that, and I totally vegged out. Plus, I was texting this girl — I won’t say her name, but I will say that nothing can bring her peace but her triumph of my cock — and I kept telling her that my dad was going to kill me if I kept sending and receiving picture messages. Not that I didn’t want what she had to send — I mean, this girl has no shame. So, Dad, if you’re reading this, you just have to deal with the four-digit phone bill.
As I’ve already clearly established, the essay was pretty boring. Not such a big surprise since back then everyone kept saying “thee” and “thou” like they were British or some shit. But I guess this Emerson twat was American (the Emerson Suites were named in his honor — really, look it up), which makes sense when you consider it. Anyway, I’m American and I’ve had to be very self-reliant. I’m supposed to graduate this spring, and I’ll tell ya, it’s rough. I’m living off-campus this semester about a block away from school, so I have to drive to class. Every morning. (Well, afternoon. No morning classes!) Unfortunately, my loafer roommate Gus — more popularly known as “Gus the Bus” because he likes to take fat chicks for a ride, and, coincidentally, smoking fatties — doesn’t have a car. This means that Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I have to drive him to campus for his 10:50 class. It’s so annoying because my shift at work doesn’t start till 11, so I’ve got to wait around the Pub for like 10 minutes. Then I’ve got to lug myself to work, which is like uggghhh because it’s at the Office of Theater Studies Minority Enrollment Fiscal Services Management, which is all the way up on the third floor of Campus Center. I mean, it’s okay, I guess, but my boss sometimes comes in while I’m masturbating and makes me Xerox things. This, of course, is complicated by the fact that the photocopier has wayyy too many buttons that are all the same shape — let’s face it, who really remembers high school geometry? — so she’s always on my back, pressing them for me.
And then I’ve got like nine credits worth of classes I’m taking because I need to finish up my leisure studies minor. (My dad thought a minor would look good alongside my B.S. in applied metaphysics.) The worst part is that here I am — a senior — and they’re still giving me homework. I mean, couldn’t they take a hint after three-and-a-half consecutive years of me not doing any? Thank God my major only needs a G.P.A. of 1.0 to graduate. If I flirt with my Intro to Sexual Romance in a Structuralist Paradigm professor — she’s like 30, and, according to her hips, has clearly popped out a progeny or two, but I’d let that cougar purr — then maybe I can boost my G.P.A. that extra eight-tenths of a point before May. That would sure beat doing 10 (!) pages of reading every week. Of course, if my girlfriend heard me say that, she’d spaz out — but, honestly, she’s lucky I’m still around. Because of her, I have to leave campus after my classes take a nap, order dinner from CampusFood (or sneak into the dining hall with my fake I.D.), and drive back up to her Circle before Wheel of Fortune starts — all in the span of just four hours! It’s like my Mazda’s a mobile sweatshop!
So, in summation, self-reliance is really important I guess. And not just the essay; that’s just boring. (I’d recommend to interested readers the précis available from SparkNotes. It really captures the spirit of the essay.) I’m psyched to graduate and move on to the real world, where I’ll really make Where’s Waldo Emerson proud. My parents have furnished the basement for me, which kind of sucks because now we’ll have to move band practice to the garage. (Once we go on tour in the greater Utica area, we’ll get enough money to buy both our own garage and several high-tier hallucinogens. I’m pretty sick of getting money from my dad for that.) Plus, Dad says that once I graduate, I can work in his office and take old Mr. Stewart’s job; it’s about time they made that stinky old goat retire, anyway. The government’ll pay for all those medications he supposedly needs; they sure as hell won’t finance mine and Gus’s…
So, like really in summation, shit — I’m getting a text. I’ll finish this later.
Elliott Feedore is a senior cinema and photography major. E-mail him at [email protected].