On Dumpster Diving Essay

Words: 1087
Pages: 5

While Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson was written by a Transcendentalist scholar in 1841, On Dumpster Diving by Lars Eighner was written by a homeless man in 1990. Despite the differences between the two, the essays have similarities in messages and themes throughout. Emerson starts off Self-Reliance with the line “Ne te quaesiveris extra” (Emerson 1), which is latin for “Do not search outside of yourself.” If the essay could be simplified into a single aphorism, this would be the line as this essay and On Dumpster Diving builds on this idea.
In both Self-Reliance and On Dumpster Diving, the ideas of originality and nonconformity are ubiquitous throughout the text. The theme of originality is seen throughout Self-Reliance. Towards the start of
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Despite artists at the time seeking to earn the level of genius through conventional and traditional means, Emerson attributes real genius with the ability to be authentic. Later in the paragraph he goes on to name people such as Moses, Plato, and Milton who were people who were remembered not for the reflections of tradition but for ideas that were expressions of their true selves. By copying what others have already done in the past, one will not feel a true sense of accomplishment like putting his or her heart into one’s own idea. Emerson even goes to the extent to claim, “imitation is suicide” (Emerson 4). Although he is not literally suggesting that copying another person’s idea is equivalent to physical suicide, he is implying that is it the suicide of one’s soul as when a person imitates they are no longer truly working from his or her own heart. The idea of originality in Self-Reliance is also a major theme in On Dumpster Diving. While most people in society would agree that dumpster diving is a disgusting and humiliating act, Eighner has his own original perception it. “I live from the refuse of others. I am a scavenger. I think it a sound and