Transcendentalism in Modern Society

Shannon Brackeen

Examples in Film


In the world this film takes place, these alien-like creatures follow Thoreau's first principle, God is nature and his second, contemplation of divine nature. The scene taking place in the photo above is the Tree of Souls scene. Throughout this film, the Na'vi are trying to protect their Tree of Life from human destruction. We also see other forms of connecting with nature when we realize that their society can be related back to the Paleolithic ear, where we were only hunters and gatherers. The Na'vi have a very spiritual connection with their planet and its inhabitants. They praise a goddess named Eywa that is "made up of all living things. Everything they know!" (quote from the film).

Examples in Music

Just Another Brick in the Wall - Pink Floyd

We all know the lyrics "we don't need no education" and "all in all its just another brick in the wall" from this iconic transcendentalist song. It promotes Thoreau's 5th principle, know thyself. This song tells people to be their own person, to be individuals and don't conform to society. This is also what Thoreau was trying to convey when he got his point across of having the courage to follow the dictates of your own conscience.

American Idiot - Green Day


Don't want to be an American idiot.

One nation controlled by the media.

Information age of hysteria.

It's calling out to idiot America.

This song is a good representation of being your own self and not following what you see and hear in the media.

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TV Shows

Tiny House Nation

This is a reality TV show on FYI that follows the host, John Weisbarth, and a builder, Zack Giffin, that help transcendentalist people who want to live a minimalist life. The help them understand what kind of life style they would be living, and help them recognize what they would like their dream tiny house to be like, and then they build them. This show follows Thoreau's fourth main theme, simplify your life.

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Personal Reflection

I identify the most with nonconformity, I support anyone who wants to be their own person and not be like others around them. I feel like I follow this theme with my personality and appearance. Know Thyself is also something I follow. I know the type of person I want to be, and I know what I want to do with my life. There are many examples of people following Thoreau's main themes and principles. I believe every person is a transcendentalist in at least one way, even though they may not realize it.