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In today’s modern world — a place where thousands of youth are once again taking to the streets seeking new solutions to centuries-old questions of equality — the problem of finding consensus has again reared its ugly head. Whether considering Socrates in ancient Athens, or the emergence of transcendentalist thought in the 19th century, almost every movement inevitably sputtered since those calling for change could not ultimately agree at to what needed to change and how to change it.

Egalitarianism or transcendentalism have been somewhat forgotten in this age of the Occupy movement, but the same desired outcomes are evident in both of the uniquely American movements. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said in his 1836 work, Nature:

So shall we come to look at the world with new eyes. It shall answer the endless inquiry of the intellect, -- What is truth? and of the affections, -- What is good? by yielding itself passive to the educated Will. Then shall come to pass what my poet said; "Nature is not fixed but fluid. Spirit alters, moulds, makes it. The immobility or bruteness of nature, is the absence of spirit; to pure spirit, it is fluid, it is volatile, it is obedient. Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house a world; and beyond its world, a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you. For you is the phenomenon perfect. What we are, that only can we see. All that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have and can do. Adam called his house, heaven and earth; Caesar called his house, Rome; you perhaps call yours, a cobler's trade; a hundred acres of ploughed land; or a scholar's garret. Yet line for line and point for point, your dominion is as great as theirs, though without fine names. Build, therefore, your own world.”

While many are trying to ascertain what has gone wrong with our modern civilization, few of the thousands in the streets today have heard of the transcendentalists and what they tried to inspire in the years before the Civil War. While many might think they “failed,” many scholars have endeavored to credit the transcendentalists for the true birth of the spirit of a nation that had only two decades before, finally secured their independence from the United Kingdom.

It has been argued that it is the transcendentalists begat the legend that is the independent American Spirit. Henry David Thoreau is the godfather of civil disobedience, after all.

More than 100 years later, the counter-culture movement of the 1960s eventually seized upon the writings and sentiments of the transcendentalists. Some of the brighter figures of the transcendentalist movement — namely Emerson and Thoreau — once again became household names.

In the current context, though, those names have once again been forgotten. Yet, their words would do much to fill the minds and spirits of those young people yearning to incite change in a society that rewards the wealthy on the backs of the poor and robs them of any semblance of the American Dream.

Into this vacuum comes Jack Bello and Horizon Rising. Although his publishing credits are limited, Bello has been able to create a world where possibilities are achievable while emphasizing those forces that will always resist change. The place he creates in subtle fashion takes cues from Czeslaw Milosz and his revolutionary tome, “The Captive Mind” in its underlying philosophy while entrancing readers with an adventure filled tale.

But make no mistake, Bello is using the grand tradition of American transcendentalism that helped to drive the spirit of American individualism and divined the nature of the American Dream as his driving force. The fact that he uses “New Brook Farm” as a location for much of the action in Horizon Rising is no accident. For those not in the know, the original Brook Farm was one of the first farming collectives created in Massachusetts in 1841 — by a transcendentalist named George Ripley —  in reaction to the Industrial Revolution.

Thoroughly unconventional yet strikingly familiar, it serves as a visionary tale of a future world that to the novel’s protagonist seems to have awakened in the blink of an eye. It is a work that will keep readers thinking while entertaining them along the way.

After all, we are all we are all here to go...

— John Guzzon

Go to Episode One —>

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