April 27, 2018
April 26, 2018
April 25, 2018
April 24, 2018
April 23, 2018
You must be logged in to post a comment.
May 9, 2018 at 10:21 pm
I can see the logic for this argument, and you do a good job in qualifying it with the quotes you used, but is it possible that they could be interpreted otherwise? One of the points that Schulz points out is that literal distance does not define isolation, after all, we can isolate ourselves in a relatively close vicinity to others as long as we cannot make contact. Though Thoreau may have only been a mile and a half away from Concord, he had traveled far enough to be unbothered by the rest of society. Though he did not literally travel miles, he had isolated himself socially from the rest of society because he was able to ignore their lives. I believe, it is to this point that Schulz claims that Thoreau turned his back on the rest of society
See in context
May 5, 2018 at 3:27 am
You comment on Thoreau’s use of Greek allusions and plant biology as evidence of romanticization and gaudiness, but is it possible you are ascribing contemporary viewpoints on a writer from 200 years ago? Not that contemporary voices aren’t valid, but to Thoreau or his (educated) readers, Greek texts were standard, and it wasn’t until the rise of realism in the 20th century that Greek became only a study of the pretentious, when the masses had something more relatable to turn to.
May 5, 2018 at 12:48 am
I don’t necessarily disagree with your assessment of “the mass of men…,” but I wonder if you are giving the people of the time too much credit in recognizing their own suffering. We, from a 21st century perspective, may view the “grueling hours” they worked on the farm as as desperate, back-breaking work, but at the time that would have been normal to them. Would we say we lead lives of quiet desperation? Or would that only be to someone 200 years in the future, when they do much less work than we do now?
May 4, 2018 at 6:07 pm
[In an odd way, Thoreau’s unpleasant criticisms almost prove his love for his townsmen. He cares about the faring of his neighbors. If Thoreau was truly a misanthrope, he would have left his fellow townsmen behind, disappearing into the woods, to never be heard from again. ]
I like this argument but I do have a few queries. First, I don’t think that Thoreau could’ve left Concord even if he had wanted to due to his involvement in the pencil company. Also based on his devotion to his family, I doubt that he would have disappeared without ever contacting them again, so that language might be a bit strong. I also wonder if his comments reflect an egocentrism. While in “Reading,” he points out the illiteracy of his fellow townspeople, he also mentions a desire to know those with a higher intelligence. Going back to your statement earlier about Thoreau’s complicated nature, I think part of this is due to his desire to communicate with people on his level. As far as a “love for his townsmen,” I don’t think it was as much of a love as it was an appreciation. He had truly been a hermit, there would not have been the same population to interact with and study.
*and I agree with Hannah. Love the title 🙂
May 4, 2018 at 5:29 pm
[What does “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” mean? ]
I am not sure that a meaning is reached and I am also not certain that it is really needed to support the argument that you are making. It is a cool note as to why Thoreau may have written, however, it almost takes away from the main argument. In contrast to the rest of the paragraph, without an explanation, this quote is more confusing than helpful.
May 4, 2018 at 4:00 pm
[This is hard evidence against misanthropy]
Is it really, though? Plucking a couple of morsels of information does not constitute ‘hard evidence,’ especially considering that Thoreau wrote in ‘The Village’ that, when having to maintain appearances and socializing, he sometimes “bolted suddenly, and nobody could tell my whereabouts.” This is clearly anti-social behavior, and the fact that Thoreau noted that he was inconspicuous to the rest of the community depicts notable immaturity. Labeling Thoreau immature may seem like simple name-calling, but I believe that it is one of the underlying issues that diminish his ideas to the point to which the reader can’t distinguish Thoreau’s stance on a topic, given that he didn’t feel bound by social convention (or reason, in my opinion) to stay true to all of his ideas. Notwithstanding, such ambiguity on Thoreau’s legitimate feelings in regards to his fellow human shouldn’t exist, but it does, and thus there is no positive answer on Thoreau’s misanthropy.
May 4, 2018 at 3:25 pm
While you were attempting to rationalize the incoherence in Thoreau’s writing in this passage, you effectively presented Thoreau’s misanthropy and finished with a weak assumption to counter the rebuttal that you envisioned (this was clearly not what you wanted to impress upon the reader). You write with authority on Thoreau’s mental state and relate it to your personal experiences, which is somewhat of a cop-out, and eerily similar to the direct revelation of Thoreau. Your intuition is yours, and that’s what makes it dually unique and frail under discourse (which, admittedly, can also describe your passage). Nevertheless, it makes sense that you would come to this point in your writing- I can’t imagine someone reading ‘The Village’ and not being confused by Thoreau’s flip-flopping.
May 4, 2018 at 10:26 am
[The fact that Thoreau sees this way of life as the only way to experience what is “significant and vital” is insulting.]
Who is this insulting to? He is saying that poor people are pure- that they experience what true life is like, and that they have the realest understanding. If anything, this is a compliment, not an insult. If he’s insulting anybody it would be anyone who isn’t poor. If someone tells you, for whatever reason, that you are truly living and experiencing the most significant aspects of life, would you take that as an insult?
May 4, 2018 at 10:11 am
This isn’t really a good argument. Thoreau used “I” 1818 times in a 114,634 word piece. You use “I” 15 times in a 1,229 word piece. This means you and Thoreau have a quite similar word density of “I” within your writing.
May 3, 2018 at 7:06 pm
While I agree that his tone gets under my skin a lot of time, I’m not so sure the bean example is his being pretentious. Thoreau seems to me the kind of guy who likes to find beauty in literally everything all the time. That being said, he is kind of meditating on the simplicity of the bean planting, linking it to society like an analogy. Similarly, he references “the Ranz des Vaches” which literally means “ranks (or rows) of cows” in French, and is a song sang in Switzerland by cowherds who are calling their cows home. This melody is literally the stereotypical “morning song,” like when Bugs Bunny comes out of his rabbit hole in old cartoons. I think that he is almost trying to be funny comparing himself and his beans to a Swedish cowherd: at the very least he is flaunting his worldly knowledge with these allusions yet again. He is saying to his reader that this is a natural human feeling of “rightness” and nurturing that has been felt around the world for centuries. He also compares a wood thrush’s song to this one in his journal, which says to me that it was on his mind, and that he was probably just putting his thoughts on paper, rather than trying to sound like a jerk.
Unless otherwise stated, individual authors control the copyright of these essays. All rights reserved.