Perspective Of The Intellectual Essay

940 words - 4 pages

If there is one lesson to be learned as a result of studying the works of Oscar Wilde, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Edward Said this semester, it is that to be an intellectual you must separate yourself from the “world we live in…[that’s] pacified by consumption” (Ryan 117). We must negate and refuse participation in commodity culture; become unattached and unbiased – create an individualized meaning of ourselves and articulate our beliefs. (Ryan 117). We began this semester with the critical lens originally directed at the aesthetic realm of literature – formalism. It has since shifted to encompass the realms of politics, discourses of race and global citizenship, and issues of society and gender roles. For me, this shift is celebrated. It has brought a large amount of knowledge and concern toward speaking up and using literature to do so. Nevertheless it still places importance on the aesthetic form of literature, where it initially began. As a result of this movement and the arguments articulated by Wilde, Emerson, and Said, in relation to the critic’s role as an intellectual, I have established my position: the critic is an artist with social responsibilities, a critic is an intellectual.
In Oscar Wilde’s The Critic as Artist, he argues that “criticism demands infinitely more cultivation than creation does,” insisting that to construct meaning out of a pre-existing piece of work, by means of criticism, requires more creativity than the initial creation demands (Wilde). I stand to agree with Wilde’s argument thought not entirely. I do believe, an artist provides creativity when fashioning a piece of work; however, it requires a lot more from an intellectual like an artist to take that piece and make more of it by means of critiquing, making it more detailed. In order to take a piece of work and criticize it requires an individual to be more inventive; taking a piece of work for what it is and making something more of it. Thus, enabling work to become what, you as the critic, want it to mean. In an age where everything has become so industrious and people passively accept things for the way they are (such as looking at a piece and accepting it while neglecting to it), robs you of your creativity.
To be an intellectual, an individual must negate, “not obey the laws too well,” by refusing to participate in commodity culture (Emerson, Politics 137). Negating society allows you to become skeptical and to think creatively. Being an intellectual requires having a critical logic, unwilling to accept everything around you. They must not conform, they must “never imitate” but have an everlasting effort in “insisting on” themselves (Emerson, History 57). An intellectual must listen to themselves and not those around them because being themselves enables them to grow intelligently and stimulate creativity. As a being you grow to be content with society and cease to be creative...

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