July 4th is, of course, a big day in the US, even in this turbulent year. We all know it’s the day on which, in 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence from England’s tyranny—an event that deserves to celebrated with gratitude. It’s the day on which, in 1855, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was published. Jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong liked to say it was his birthday, though it was actually a month later.
I always think of another person, too, on the 4th of July: the great writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, born on this day in 1804. I love Hawthorne’s work. Its style has power and grace. It is impelled by ethics, by the need in people to see justly—and it shows Hawthorne’s own vivid awareness of the consequences for a self of being unjust.
In an essay on the writer’s short story “The Man of Adamant,” Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism, writes:
If there is any one work, it seems to me, where Hawthorne has presented concisely and richly his attitude to the world and the heart of man, that work is the short story “The Man of Adamant.”…
“All through Hawthorne’s work, there is the admonition: “Do not be alone in concealed glory. Do not separate yourself from the rest of things, so that, darkly, you can establish yourself in another world.”…
“Indeed, a meaning never absent from Hawthorne’s writing is that being alone makes for pride, but it also makes for an unresting sense of iniquity within and a sense of hardening that is also corruption. Perhaps Hawthorne never said this so plainly, so unmistakably, so compactly as he does in “The Man of Adamant.”
Because Aesthetic Realism, as conscious study, teaches about the two opposing desires in us—that which Hawthorne is illustrating in this story, the desire to have contempt, and our greatest desire, to like and be just to reality and see our deep relation to other people—it is the education every person needs.
So I recommend two things: 1) Read “Hawthorne’s “The Man of Adamant,” by Eli Siegel, and the story itself; and 2) find out about how to study in Aesthetic Realism consultations. They are thrilling, kind, eye-opening education in how to know and like the world and yourself honestly.