The sound is civilization.
    "We are a puny & fickle folk."
"Across the Continent: Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way."   Emerson, 1841 Journal entry #s 279-280.
Currier and Ives 1868 print    

"I hear the whistle of the locomotive in the woods.

Wherever that music comes it has its sequel. It is the voice of the civility of the Nineteenth Century saying, 'Here I am.' I is interrogative: it is prophetic: and this Cassandra is believed: 'Whew!Whew!Whew! How is real estate here in the swamp and wilderness? Ho for Boston! Whew! Whew!

"Down with that forest on the side of the hill. I want ten thousand chestnut sleepers.* I want cedar posts and hundreds of thousands of feet of boards. Up my master's of oak & pine! You have waited long enough–a good part of a century in the wind & stupid sky. Ho for axes & saws, and away with me to Boston! Whew! Whew! I will plant a dozen houses on this pasture next moon, and a village anon; and I will sprinkle yonder square mile with white houses like the broken snow-banks. . . ."

Currier & Ives: F. (Fanny) Palmer, Date: 1868. Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1842. Journal entry.

Marx critical argument | contents | landscape | an American machine




Selection: From Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, pp. 431 & 482 [ Emerson's entry #366 ].

Ralph Waldo Emerson. The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1838-1842. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. [on line @ Google Books™]



Peter S. Field. Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Making of a Democratic Intellectual. (Oxford, UK: Roman and Littlefield, 2002), p. 157.

Emerson in his Journals, ed. Joel Porte, (Cambridge, 1982). p. 297.

* sleepers, railway ties--the wooden cross beams to which the iron rails are attached at a constant distance apart.


Image Title Source: "Across the Continent: Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way."
Creator(s): Currier & Ives: F. (Fanny) Palmer
Date: 1868
Part Of: “Prints and Photographs Reading Room: Prints and Photographs Division” – Library of Congress.
Online Resource
URL: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ppmsca.03213/
ARC Identifier: 03213


American Art

American Landscape

George Sheeler, The Artist Looks at Nature1943; "the painting's meaning is ambiguous. . . " The Art Institute of Chicago