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One of the challenges we face in our current moment might be best described as a kind of collective obsessive-compulsive disorder. Despite the enormity of the world, only a few subjects utterly dominate the media, driving everything else from the field. And we respond, endlessly, compulsively, obsessively. As a wag once said, “Big Brother is...

Romantic poet, amateur orientalist, prolific essayist and speaker (author of “Nature,” “Self-Reliance,” and “The American Scholar,” to name a few), and a leader of the Transcendentalist movement: these are but a few of the descriptors necessary to capture the contribution of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), on this anniversary of his death. Not a few schools have...