What Emerson meant

I was re-reading the lovely Voegelinian musings of Marion Montgomery in his Why Hawthorne was Melancholy when I stumbled over a question of What Emerson Meant.

In 1864, Emerson wrote to Sen. Charles Sumner about a proposed law to set up a National Academy of Literature and Art. He thought it could offer "a jury to set upon abnormal anomolous pretensions to genius, such as puzzle the public mind now and then."

I wondered if a concern with "abnormal anomolous pretensions to genius" was sparked by military headlines or by literary goings on.

Perhaps he was envisioning the future state of Civil War history and its abject cult of authorial genius. Or perhaps he was envisioning the blog phenomenon.

Thanks for this rich quote, Marion.