Emily Dickinson, "The Sunset stopped on Cottages" (950)

I want Dickinson's confidence, though I can't help but think it hubris.

Emily Dickinson, "The Sunset stopped on Cottages" (950)

Re: Fox News' Crusade Against Teachers

I learn lots from Media Matters for America. One could argue they harbor a distinct viewpoint. That's fine—they do their homework and reach solid conclusions which should be taken seriously. They pay attention to how something is presented, not just that it is presented. This leads them to a conclusion counter to prevailing Democratic strategy: they hold that offering a serious Democratic stance on Fox News is fruitless, because no matter how many times you effectively tell the truth, they spin it the other way through endless hours of commentary. Here's Andrew Lawrence of MMFA in an interview with Salon:

All that liberals are doing when they go on the channel is to give the Fox News PR team a talking point: "We're reasonable. We'll bring on anybody." I think it's extremely damaging. I think it gives Fox News people a credibility that they don't deserve. During the 2020 campaign, Bernie Sanders did a town hall on Fox News and he got a standing ovation for his comments about Medicare for All. It was a big deal at the time and got lots of attention. The narrative was, "Oh, wow. Look at what he accomplished. Look at what he exposed all these Fox News viewers to." That was true in that exact moment. But then what Fox News focused on from the town hall was how Bernie Sanders made some comment about raising taxes.

Fox News trapped him: All they talked about was Bernie Sanders wanting to raise taxes. They didn't bring up the Medicare for All again. But that was one instance, for one moment. He didn't convince any Fox News viewers to support Medicare for All because after that, Fox News hosts and all their other guests — Ted Cruz and everybody else they bring on — is just hammering how universal health care is really socialism, and somehow that is going to be the end of America.

Right now, I'm watching this lowlight reel Kat Abu created of Fox News trashing teachers, and I genuinely feel nauseous. Media Matters' attention to how something is presented and the public's general inattention to that "how" scares me. You can see why teachers are quitting in droves and how much worse it will get for teachers from these few clips. You don't even need the montage because the hate is unchecked and off-the-charts:

What's said is incredible: there are numerous shouts about predation while saying teachers hate kids, they don't work, they only want to sell leftist junk and indoctrinate everyone. And it's nonstop. The nonstop part is key. I'm not the biggest fan of the Democratic party: it would be nice if they took real steps to get people out of prison, decriminalize drugs, pump money into schools and healthcare, stop giving cops military-grade firepower, and work to get people out of debt. But all of us can recognize that the word "Democrat" in America is simply a synonym for "someone we don't like." It doesn't really correspond to policies or reality. Republicans are currently saying they're Satanists who eat children, and lots of people believe this because they constantly hear it from the TV, their pastors, and the crankiest/loudest parts of their family.

The word "Democrat" has been severed from reality, and now this is happening to the word "teacher."

Emily Dickinson, "The Sunset stopped on Cottages" (950)

I am jealous.

Right now, things are relatively good. Circumstances in check. I'm in a state where the sun does not constantly scald the earth, turning it into nothing but a repository for heat. Rain isn't just possible here, it has actually fallen. I have a lovely opportunity at this new job. As I'm doing professional development, I immediately practice what is taught and document my results.

Still, I'm jealous of Dickinson. Look at the last lines of her little lyric: "What difference, after all, Thou mak'st / Thou supercilious Sun?" She's got the confidence to tell the Sun to get lost! The Sun, she declares, makes no difference. Again, for myself, I believe things are relatively good. But a slight shift in conditions could imperil everything. I dare not challenge the center of the solar system. If it shines too brightly, aggravating the wrong person on the wrong day, my life can become hell. On this note: a survey was done of what affected judges before handing out sentences, and you'll never guess what the result was.

The Sunset stopped on Cottages (950)
Emily Dickinson

The Sunset stopped on Cottages
Where Sunset hence must be
For treason not of His, but Life's,
Gone Westerly, Today —

The Sunset stopped on Cottages
Where Morning just begun —
What difference, after all, Thou mak'st
Thou supercilious Sun? 

I want Dickinson's confidence, though I can't help but think it hubris.


I want to see for myself what she's seeing.

She begins with an observation, an event. "The Sunset stopped on Cottages." A gorgeous, fiery orange, emanating across clouds pink and purple, goes right up to a small hamlet and stops. People are inside already; the limit of the light is us.

She presents an amazing but strange scene. As if the universe truly is orderly. Dickinson continues, speaking the language of necessity: "Where Sunset hence must be / For treason not of His, but Life's, / Gone Westerly, Today". Sunset "must be" there. It must stop where it does. This isn't because of any fault of its own, but rather because "Life" has moved away from it. Dickinson alludes to an idea akin to that of America as perpetual frontier, moving westward, always at the edge of light. However, what exactly is she talking about? What feeling is she trying to evoke?

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She calls the Sun haughty—"supercilious"—in the last two lines, and I wonder if that's said through tears. True, the Sunset stopping at the edge of life is a grand image, but her words turn to life having gone westerly. Moved away, into the dwellings, but also beyond. No one else is mentioned in the poem. There's just her, what's left of sunlight, and cottages. Sure, there are beautiful things happening in those cottages. In them, "Morning just begun," as if sunlight translates directly into evening lamplight. Dickinson is not sharing in that. She's confronting the sunset.

The way I read it, she celebrates an external light becoming an inner one. That means she can imagine families, couples, ministers, and servants all enjoying a new morning within their dwellings. But she also recognizes her distance from their happiness; her own inner light stands distinct. Loneliness is tough: you see what you're missing everywhere. While partnering with a celestial object like the sun or moon sounds grand, you can end up wondering what you did that made you haughty, i.e. "supercilious."