Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "The American Scholar," repr. In Emerson: Essays and Lectures, ed. Joel Porte (1983).
The popgun metaphor is a wonderful imagistic summary of Emerson's confidence in the authentic individual being able to access truth. As always, we should be cautioned against interpreting Emerson as a radical individualist or separatist. The notion is that by staying true to our instincts we may enter a more universal community. He says a bit later in "The American Scholar": "He then learns, that in going down into the secrets of his own mind, he has descended into the secrets of all minds."