Behind Writers' Attraction To The Wissahickon Creek

Behind Writers' Attraction To The Wissahickon Creek

Perhaps there is reason behind many writers' hajj to this picturesque Pennsylvania river.

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Upon looking at the serene water surface and the trees that provide a soothing shade, no wonder writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and George G. Foster were fond of exploring this part of the American wilderness. With its name being Lenape for "catfish stream," this site would be the perfect stream to explore.

In some ways, these writers provided a glimpse into the American country that was somehow hidden and preserved. George G. Foster, who was a journalist in the early 1800's, made note of the Wissahickon in his fifth Slice as one of the sites in Pennsylvania which was pristine. Edgar Allan Poe, in his essay "Morning on the Wissahickon," vividly described his trip to the Wissahickon.

They both use the word sublime to describe the Wissahickon. Definitely, the description of the landscape can provide any writer the inspiration for literary creativity. An early reference to the Wissahickon came from William Cobbett, who described the hills and the trees. Foster vividly explained what the Wissahickon looks like, with the large trees, a dam, a rocky bank, and a log cabin. Poe also talks about the large trees, the mossy shores, large hills, and the rich plateau.

Foster talked about how the Wissahickon is so grand, it makes people feel insignificant being there. Poe also said that if the Wissahickon were to flow through Britain, it would be the theme of every bard's song (before being sold to aristocracy to build houses on). Foster says that the Wissahickon cannot surpass any other river, though Poe compared it to the rivers of the Old World. While Americans like Foster could appreciate the Wissahickon's majesty, Poe mentioned how the British tourists thought that the Wissahickon encompassed only a small portion of beauty that they witness.

He also mentioned that unlike the European landscapes, the American landscapes require the traveler to walk amongst it. The outdoors in general can impact any traveler's health, specifically with lower levels of depression. So it is little wonder why the Wissahickon would be a place that provides inspiration to writers, especially if it would help them come to terms with any mental disorders.

When Poe had heat exhaustion and laid to rest, he started imaging the Wissahickon before colonization and then saw a black man petting a gazelle. In this way, Poe has an almost spiritual fascination with the Wissahickon. Indeed, there was even said to have been a monastery dedicated to Protestantism founded in the Wissahickon by Kelpius and his Rosicrucian followers. One of the followers, Christopher Witt, would eventually leave behind a library with books on medicine, botany, and astrology which would be inherited by Benjamin Franklin.

To this day, the Wissahickon remains an important part of Pennsylvania and wider American history. There are even opportunities to explore this creek along with the Friends of the Wissahickon, which is an organization dedicated to educating people about it.


Taylor, George Rogers, and George G. Foster. "'Philadelphia in Slices' by George G. Foster." The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 93, no. 1, 1969, pp. 23–72. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20090260.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Bonnaroo Is Unlike Any Other Music Festival

4 days of camping, 150 performers, 10 stages, and the most incredible experience you'll ever encounter in the middle of Tennessee.

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The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival takes place in an enormous 700-acre field -- nicknamed "The Farm" -- in Manchester, Tennessee. Festival-goers from all over the country fly, drive, or walk into the festival to experience 4 days of music, activities, and food. This past weekend was my first time going, and I can without a doubt say that it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. One of Bonnaroo's common sayings is "Radiate Positivity," and the 4 days spent there are factual evidence of the saying. At Bonnaroo, there is no stress, no worry, and not a care in the world. People of all kinds come together each year to celebrate life, love, and music without judgment. Each person's authenticity was something I noticed as soon as I stepped foot into the festival.

You can embrace your true self without apology. Each person is there to lift you up, too.

The atmosphere is much different than anything else I have experienced before. Even when my friends and I felt tired, or if the sun was just too hot to bear, we still did not mind being on our feet for hours on end. We enjoyed being exactly where we were, despite the minor inconveniences we may have faced -- like sitting in 5-hour traffic to get into the campground! I may sound crazy for saying this, but time truly did slow down while we were on The Farm.

My friends and I pulled up to the campground at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning as The Farm buzzed with people. We were too excited to go to sleep, so we spent the morning exploring the place instead. Day or night, everyone was alive with smiles that were contagious. We heard the words "Happy Roo!" from friends and strangers alike.

No matter where you came from, everyone was family at Bonnaroo.

One thing I noticed this past weekend was that everyone was there to help one another. If we needed help with setting up our tent, our neighbors who camped next to us were there to help in seconds. If someone tripped and fell, three people would be there to help the person up. If someone needed a few bucks for water, there was someone in line who was more than willing to cover the cost. I felt so at home there, as if I was a part of this community consisting of all types of people. I felt like I belonged there.

Alongside incredible people and a fulfilling community, there was stellar music as well (of course!). Headliners such as The Lumineers, Post Malone, and Kacey Musgraves rocked The Farm with new and old hits that hyped up the crowds.

Each performer reminded us that Bonnaroo is a safe place and does not discriminate against any person.

Hearing these words so often gave me so much hope for this world and the changes we can make. Bonnaroo is known as a Music and Arts Festival for a reason because it also promotes and sells eco-friendly living and handmade creations all throughout the festival. The activities that are available to attendees set the festival apart from other music festivals.

Bonnaroo connects us all through music, acceptance, and love. I can't wait to go back next summer!

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Why Self-Help Isn't A Legitimate Label

This type of unpopular opinion is more of a semantic issue than a philosophical issue.

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What I mean is that I do not think that SELF-improvement exists, because we as human beings are not as individualistic as much as we think. George Carlin once said a similar idea, that if you are reading a "self-help" book written by somebody else, than it is technically not "self-help," it is just "help." Indeed, help requires another person's assistance, since the remedy is not always internal for problems such as mental or health disorders.

The phrase "self-help," while one that is marketable, makes negative implications. It does not conjure in my mind medical professionals who actually know what they are talking about and are always making new discoveries, rather I think of scamming gurus. On the part of the consumers, it also creates an image of them as narcissistic, even if they have good intentions. However, there are definitely consumers who would be misguided into believing that the solutions to their problems are simple, when they take time to solve.

I have been actively trying to lose weight ever since I hit 196 lb. To put that into perspective, I am 5'11, so for someone my height, according to the Body Mass Index, I would have been considered overweight. Although I managed to slowly lose weight and still have a long way to go, my motivation for losing weight has nothing to do with "bettering myself," rather it has more to do with analyzing my current problems with my weight and contextualizing it within ten or twenty years. Considering how ever since I gained a lot of weight, my feet have become sore easily, I find difficulty in standing up straight, and I struggle to fit into my pants, I try to think "Would I stay the same or get any worse?" I also put into perspective the idea that almost 40% of the United States population is struggling with obesity and I do not want to become a part of that statistic.

I may sound bleak, but I attempt to explain my position in the most direct way. It also always me to think about how truly important healthy foods, supplements, vitamins, and exercise are to overall health and adopting my mindset makes their values increase, at least in my case. So, basically these types of life choices are not simply an improvement to health, rather it would restore health back to the entire country. If they can help one person, they can at least help multiple people.

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