A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.
Emerson also acknowledged to an audience of college students that newspapers “occupy during your generation a large share of attention” and that the “engaged man can neglect them only at his cost.” Meaning, one supposes, that failing to keep up with the news can hinder social interactions when the discussion turns to current events. Still, though, Emerson advises the young men to spend as little time as possible on the news , since much of it can simply be absorbed through the cultural ether and by judiciously skimming through the papers: