[Why, the owner does not know it for many years when a poet has put his farm in rhyme, the most admirable kind of invisible fence, has fairly impounded it, milked it, skimmed it, and got all the cream, and left the farmer only the skimmed milk.]
This line connects up well with Gleick’s discourse on the dictionary and its fluid interconnectedness. Thoreau does not mention individual words in this quote though, rather choosing to delineate rhyme as the creator of meaning; it is this choice that contrasts well with Gleick. Gleick says this of the lexis “[it is] a measure of shared experience, which comes from interconnectedness” (91). I believe this to be true, meaning of objects is formed through communal work. But, Thoreau, in some ways, reacts against that in this quote by noting that the poet will own the farm far more than the practical farmer ever will. It is Thoreau’s attention to individuality here that subverts Gleick’s statement. Everyone knows what a table is, but only I know what a table is to me. It is this self-recursive networks of meaning that I believe make creating a taxonomy of language so hard, because one will always run into the invisible fence that Thoreau notes. One will always run into a similar, but at once, highly individualized, definition of meaning. In sum, I believe paying attention to both kinds of networks of meaning is important, the interconnected and the self-recursive.
Thoreau’s complaint about poor translation amuses me, in part because it brings up in my mind what is perhaps the fundamental problem of language: its inconstancy. But that I mean that each word, each phrase, and each sentence do not have some absolute meaning, but rather are all slightly different in the interpretations of different minds. As Dr. Harding’s notes observed, Cato seemed to be indeed “mistranslated” into English. But, of course, the problem of translation is not purely at the level of language or even dialect, but at the level of idiolect. For what is a translation? What is nonsense? These words can be defined, of course, but words can only be defined in relation to other words. Language is a construct, and no absolute meaning exists. To write Cato in English or to respond to Thoreau is a matter of translation in both cases; one must decide what words mean even when their meanings are incorporeal. So, certainly, there is a certain amusement in criticizing translation in a more philosophical sense, even if one can recognize the annoyance of a poorly-translated work in practicality.
A final note of amusement, more of an aside: That WordPress’ software for catching typos does not recognize “idiolect” as a word certainly reflects well the slippery nature of language.
Throughout, Thoreau makes the point of wanting to live without technology. He craved a peaceful life unbothered by the hold of the machines and aids that are commonplace and taken for granted. As we read through Gleick, we see the development of technologies that strive to make people’s lives easier. Gleick features the telegraph prominently, a technology that makes communication easier and faster. As someone else had pointed out in their comment, this ease came with the consequence of communication towers marring the natural world. With how the advancement of technology slowly takes over and replaces the natural in our lives, we can see Thoreau’s work as a lamentation in this section. So many people don’t care or become complacent with how technology demands more space from our world as it develops and as it develops, technology has slowly taken over the attention of the people. Thoreau is preaching against this, believing people shouldn’t strive to let technology take over all aspects of their lives, but to go out and work themselves to accomplish their goals.
[We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep.]
Here, Thoreau talks about his desire to live a more natural and spiritualistic way of life. To him, advancing oneself morally is more important than advancing technologically. I wonder what he would think of the scenarios given in Gleick’s The Information, in which people interweave technology into their daily lives to make things simpler (such as inventing the telegraph for easier and faster communication). For example, I wonder what he would think of social media today. It has been argued for a long time that social media can be detrimental to an individual’s mental health, although, I believe that when used consciously and purposefully, it can lead to this moral growth that Thoreau describes.
“In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify.”
Simplicity is an important tenet of Thoreau’s life ‘lived deliberately.’ The smallest bits of information, vital to communication, are uncovered via simplification. Complicated messages are encoded, or simplified, to be easily transmitted and received. Otherwise, our communication would be much more difficult. Gleick writes: “The transmitter “operates on the message in some way”—that is, encodes the message—to produce a suitable signal. A telephone converts sound pressure into analog electric current. A telegraph encodes characters in dots, dashes, and spaces. More complex messages may be sampled, compressed, quantized, and interleaved” (223). This sense of conversion, between complex and simpler symbols of meaning, from our everyday language to the computer languages used for coding, fuels the human ability to communicate over great distances and with great speed. So by simplifying and simplifying, perhaps contrary to Thoreau’s anticipation, we ended up with a information technology more complex than ever.
“Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with nature herself. I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora as the Greeks.”
The beginning of this paragraph was significantly shortened with Thoreau explaining his appreciation and excitement for every morning. In the fluid text edition, he initially states: “The morning is to every one the season of his ideal life. Then, if ever, we can realize the life of the Greeks and we are all at some time good heathens enough to acknowledge and worship their Aurora.” These two sentences were cut, and so he immediately jumps to describing himself as a worshipper of Aurora like the Greeks. Aurora is the ancient Roman version of Eos, the Ancient Greek goddess of the dawn. With these two sentences, Thoreau delves into a deeper description of his connection to the Greeks and the morning. My thoughts regarding this change is that he might have cancelled these two sentences due to the fact that he wanted to put greater emphasis on his appreciation of every coming morning instead of his worshipping relationship with the Greeks.
In this paragraph, Thoreau talks about how secluding yourself is not necessarily a bad thing. As a more introverted person, I agree with Thoreau. Sometimes, it is nice to take a step back from socializing and dedicate time to myself. However, I never feel truly alone. Most of the time, I am spending my free time on my phone or some other sort of device. It is strange how we can be physically alone, yet surrounded in the online world. People can reach out to me if they need anything and vice versa. I often prefer this situation, as my social battery is able to recharge without completely isolating myself. I have to give credit to Thoreau, though, because I do not think I could live and be alone almost all the time. While it may be exhausting for me, I still think that social interaction is an important part of a healthy life.
In the first paragraph, Thoreau talks about the peacefulness of walking about the lake alone, looking at the reflective water and feeling calmed. In the fourth paragraph, he talks about being stuck inside the house due to rain. when this happens, he is again calmed and not feeling melancholy. I feel the same way when I am alone. I too have taken long, slow walks around a pond, or sat inside the house alone with my thoughts because of rain. Many people do not like to be alone with their mind, but I find it peaceful. It is like therapy or meditation. The main difference between the way Thoreau spends his alone time and how I spend mine is technology. While Thoreau will sit in his house in silence, I prefer to have music playing. I am still focusing on my thoughts, or even nothing at all, but I enjoy the background noise.
Through looking at the fluid text version, it seems Thoreau removed a sentence from the end that adds more clarity to the thought expressed of belonging to nature and nature being a part of him. This sentence, appearing only in Version A, reads “God is my father & my friend—men are my brothers—but nature is my mother & my sister.” I find the removal and rarity of this concluding line odd as the reference to nature as mother and sister I feel brings more clarity and allows the reader to more easily grasp the question this paragraph poses.
The whistle of a train that Thoreau brings up is still a sound prevalent in modern life. In an earlier paragraph, Thoreau discusses the places where one can’t even hear the whistle in a tone of disbelief. Now, in the current day, I can’t hear the various sounds of the train from where I live, but what I can hear are the sounds of cars and buses that indicate a similar sign of progress and innovation that came with the introduction of the train. In a similar vein, it would be strange to be in a place away from the sounds of progress and the technologies that take over our lives.
When Thoreau talks about how he hears the wind blowing on the pages, I can very much relate with it. This is a calming, peaceful noise, as evident by the words “free wind”. When I was younger, I would prefer to read outside. I would take a pillow up to the roof of my house and sit there for hours, feeling the sun on my skin as the wind whistles through the pages. Many sounds that Thoreau hears are unaffected by technology, considering how he lives as simply as possible in the woods away from civilization. However, in my life, I am constantly hearing technology affecting me. I hear the squeaky buzz of electricity running through an outlet, the computer generated voices that call my phone, the audio of a video or song coming out of my speakers, and so much more.
Thoreau stresses the importance of an authentic liberal education which resides in a culture far richer than the “rapid strides” of technological advancement. With the lack of knowledge, or understanding in respect to the classics, one will never share a meaningful appreciation for the literary world and its creativity. In this case, this perspective can be connected with N. Katherine Hayles, “How we read,” in which she mentions the gradual, but continuous shift from physical paper copies of text to current-day e-books. One of her main arguments is that due to less literary reading, reading skills are lessening significantly. Both Thoreau and Hayles emphasize the importance of the authentic literary world in culture, and how society should try its best not to stray far from this, despite the temptations of the technological world.
[I know a woodchopper, of middle age, who takes a French paper, not for news as he says, for he is above that, but to “keep himself in practice,” he being a Canadian by birth; and when I ask him what he considers the best thing he can do in this world, he says, beside this, to keep up and add to his English. This is about as much as the college bred generally do or aspire to do, and they take an English paper for the purpose]
This section from Thoreau is surprisingly relevant today, albeit, most are not trying to ‘keep up their English,’ but rather, keep up with cultural, political, and social trends. When Hayles discusses the prevalence of hyperreading, I cannot help but see the connection between the woodchipper and the bulk of us who frequently view the news and use social media. It is all we can do, in this golden age of information, to keep up with current trends, and keep a pulse on what is most relevant to us. Thoreau is correct in his diagnosis of a broader need to read the foundational texts of our culture, but he misses the reason why people do not. The woodchipper is working, and has little time to read through dense (but rewarding) texts. Most likely, he would rather keep his contemporary knowledge sharper, as it is what is most relevant to him, and it is what keeps him most connected to his community. Going back to Hayles, it is clear that her conceptualization of ‘hyperreading’ tracks back to this period, and with Thoreau’s anecdote, we are able to see why hyperreading is even more prevalent nowadays. However, Thoreau is not wrong in his wish for a ‘close reading’ of the foundational texts of Western culture. These precursors are highly influential, and by reading them, I have found myself able to ‘hyperread’ better, as connections (often historical or symbolic) flow easier. And the more I examine this relationship, the more I realize how symbiotic the relationship between close reading and hyper reading are, for the two compliment each other in excess. But, as Hayles warns, and Thoreau does as well, there is a clear danger in an excess of hyperreading.
[ and for the rest of their lives vegetate and dissipate their faculties in what is called easy reading.]
What Thoreau is saying here is that we tend to push aside books that challenge our minds as they may be more difficult and time consuming to read. I believe that this is still true today, especially now more than ever. In Hayles\’s essay, she notes that in modern classrooms, students are being assigned short stories instead of long novels due to the lack of deep attention (Hayles 501). There is a clear shift towards hyperattention/hyperreading, whether for better or for worse. I have experienced this shift firsthand in my own reading over the years. When I was younger, I was able to read a whole book in one sitting if I desired. Nowadays, I find it hard to even read a single chapter without getting distracted by my phone or some other sort of technology surrounding me. I also tend to gravitate towards quick reads, and find myself mostly reading for entertainment instead of enhancing what knowledge I already possess (outside of class assigned readings).
Thoreau’s commentary in this paragraph on the necessity of education relates heavily to N. Katherine Hayles and her work “How We Read.” Both Thoreau and Hayles stress the importance of education. Thoreau’s comments on spending more on a town house than a library is reminiscent to how younger generations today focus less on reading as well. Hayles talks about how to encourage students to become expert readers and promotes a threefold approach that offers literary training, encourages comparing methodologies to other fields, and how to use digital media to analyze texts (505). Hayles and Thoreau both task themselves to educating those around them, both impacted by the current state of technology. It’s interesting to note the differences in techniques they propose and how the issue of education has developed over time.
The first sentence of this section really spoke to the ways in which people have become more invested in materialistic items in society. As Thoreau describes, “most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only indispensable but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” As we learned in Gleick’s first few chapters, technology is evolving and many people are investing not only their money but time into learning more about technological gadgets. While technology is helping a lot of people advance their businesses, education, and day to day life, it is also hindering human connections and has a lot of drawbacks. The question then becomes, “should we view technology as a luxury?” What even is considered a piece of technology?
Thoreau details a spot in nature he loves to go to, whether it be with companions or himself and just immerses himself. This is a spot that he formed an incredibly strong connection with that allows him to detach from society. Even when he has to return to \”the haunts of men again,\” he is home in that spot. In a similar vein, it reminds me of the beach my house is rather close to. At night, there is nothing more relaxing to me than when I walk the boardwalk completely alone, the sound of waves the only partner I have. Like Thoreau, it is a spot that I\’ll occasionally bring others to enjoy, but overall, it is like a home away from home, where I can detach and enjoy nature, away from the virus sweeping the globe and cut off from all the news due to the poor cell reception.
[Now that the cars are gone by, and all the restless world with them, and the fishes in the pond no longer feel their rumbling, I am more alone than ever. For the rest of the long afternoon, perhaps, my meditations are interrupted only by the faint rattle of a carriage or team along the distant highway.]
Coming from a small town that is frequently busy, I often experienced what Thoreau describes here. I live on a street that has heavy traffic almost 24/7. It can get quite annoying at times, especially at nighttime when cars passing by are blaring music. However, I have grown used to it, and most of the time I do not realize that it\’s even occurring until the traffic is already long gone. While I do enjoy (and prefer) the quieter areas of my city, such as where my grandparents live, I sometimes find myself missing that background noise. It reminds me of home. The sounds make me feel as though I am surrounded, despite the fact that I am only around my family.
[ I cherish them, I hoe them, early and late I have an eye to them; and this is my day’s work.]
This passage brings me joy as it reminds me of my grandfather. Every year, he plants new flowers around the trees in his front yard and in his flower beds out back. Whenever the weather is nice, you can find him out there digging and watering his plants. There is no reason as to why he does this, but tending to his flowers is fun for him, and he thoroughly enjoys doing so.
[Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poor-house. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the alms-house as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace. The town’s poor seem to me often to live the most independent lives of any. May be they are simply great enough to receive without misgiving]
This sentiment is reflected in Thoreau’s experiences with visitors to Walden Pond. He describes the Canadian woodchopper, Alex Therien, with as much respect and reverence as one of his more highly educated peers. Thoreau recognizes the wisdom, the variable genius, all people possess if only we take the time to listen. Many of our greatest fears– like poverty and isolation–are assuaged by Thoreau’s account of life at Walden Pond. One may be deprived of material wealth and human contact and still live a rich life, perhaps even the richest life: one that is more spiritually rewarding than the lives of well-to-do townsfolk. There is also freedom of greater proportion in the impoverished life, because the world expects little of you. There is less pressure to conform to society as an outsider, which Thoreau seems to view as an asset. In his eyes, society creates more trouble for itself than it’s worth, and the humble man is more honorable than any prince. If leading a simple life is perceived as impoverishment, then let the world aspire to poverty.
[ I am convinced, that if all men were to live as simply as I then did, thieving and robbery would be unknown. These take place only in communities where some have got more than is sufficient while others have not enough.]
This is an interesting point Thoreau makes, but I do not think it is entirely true in modern times. Wealthy people and neighborhoods/homes may be a bigger target, but most times, thieves tend to choose places where they can get the job done without getting caught. Robberies also happen all over, not just in “communities where some have got more than is sufficient while others have not enough”.
“Nations are possessed with an insane ambition to perpetuate the memory of themselves by the amount of hammered stone they leave. What if equal pains were taken to smooth and polish their manners? One piece of good sense would be more memorable than a monument as high as the moon.”
The way in which nations ‘perpetuate memories’ of themselves has been a concern before Thoreau wrote about it, and is still a concern in American society today. A glorious (but dishonest, and biased) American history may be analogous to the ‘hammered stone’ Thoreau talks about here. Americans take such pain to ensure the collective American memory is a positive one, rather than focusing on the reality of the American experience, which belies this rose-tinted memory. One of the many reasons “Make America Great Again” fails is because America was never objectively great, except perhaps to those working so hard to perpetuate (and create) false memories. The information we choose to preserve and the information we choose to erase (or, with a note of concern, information that is unethically erased) impacts the memory of our nation, so it’s important that we remain aware of this and alert to attempts to censor or stifle the spread of information– and whether that information is truly accurate and indicative of the nation it stands for.
“In him the animal man chiefly was developed… But the intellectual and what is called spiritual man in him were slumbering as in an infant. He had been instructed only in that innocent and ineffectual way […] by which the pupil is never educated to the degree of consciousness, but only to the degree of trust and reverence, and a child is not made a man, but kept a child”
It’s clear that the intellectual man is of great importance to Thoreau. He takes some measure not to present the intellectual man as ‘superior’ to the ‘animal man’, but he does suggest the man of intellect has access to higher faculties and perhaps a higher mode of consciousness. What I cannot discern is whether or not Thoreau found children to possess some wisdom, or if, as it seems in the quote above, children and “childlike thoughts” occupy a lower level of consciousness.
At the end of “Reading”, Thoreau writes: “I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.” Here, he indicates an unusual correlation between youth and wisdom. Earlier in “Reading”, he writes: “Children, who play life, discern its true law and relations more clearly than men who fail to live it worthily, but who think that they are wiser by experience, that is, failure.” Based on these quotes, it seems that children do occupy a space of unique wisdom, chiefly because their wisdom is not a result of experience, or that it’s based on limited experience. If children can “discern [the] true law and relations” of our world more than some grown men, what difference does it make if a man is “kept a child” in his education?
That’s the crux of Thoreau’s dilemma, I think: education. Namely, the type of education we receive, the values of that education, and where it takes us. Men may be thoroughly educated, but if their education teaches them “trust and reverence” above all, then they will never learn to think for themselves and question the (seemingly) unquestionable. If that’s the sole education we receive, institutional change or reform is nigh on impossible. Even more dangerously, so is free thought. If we do not have the educational foundation to question what we’re told, we are unable to formulate our own opinions or form an individual perspective.
Despite all this, Thoreau still appears to celebrate aspects of the child’s perspective. Perhaps he means to say that the quest for wisdom, depending on the type of education we receive, may actually lead us astray. In that sense, some of us were better off with the wisdom we gleaned from the world as children.
This passage, about how a young man first experiences the forest and nature struck a chord with me as I have been walking the grounds of my childhood home. Returning to a place I had not planned to as an older man I see it in new ways and from a different perspective. Growing up where I did I never truly appreciated how it influenced the person I am. With lack of oversight and time on my own to spend as I chose the only thing for me to do was to play in the woods. Lacking the knowledge I have now, I saw none of the things I do in those woods now. Just as Thoreau describes, in coming to the woods with the most original parts of myself I saw no danger in the woods I played in or the icy streams I would cross on my own. Seeing those streams with fish in them and the deer crossing through them, I thought of how they could provide me with nourishment if food became scarce. As an adult man, I first thought of the practical purposes of these living things around me for my needs as opposed to viewing them with the wonder and majesty they elicited in me as a child. This experience drew my mind from how much the place I am from has changed to how much I have changed myself.
This specific event where the Concord townspeople banded together to help put out a fire in a family’s home shares an undeniable connection with my own personal experiences during the COVID-19 outbreak. We see, and hear of so many grocery stores being out of complete stock of tissues, paper towels, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, baby diapers, etc. During a pandemic such as this, the first emotion people feel is terror, and in order to be safe and partake in any measures that they believe will ensure their safety, they clean out the shelves of their local grocery stores, especially now with the order to stay inside homes. However, many people don’t have the time, or financial means to stock up on products. Our family friends’ mother works at Albany Medical Hospital and has been working overtime and nonstop to assist those who are infected with the virus. In this case, all of the family members are unable to leave their home due to the possibility that they were exposed to the virus. In this unprecedented time, my parents took it upon themselves to shop for our family friends so they are able to have the things they need. Tragedies such as a family’s home being burned down, or a pandemic, are frequently seen as negative forces, and understandably so. However, during times like these it’s heartwarming to see the community come together, help, and lean on one another for support.
I really appreciate the way in which Mariah has constructed her response, it is well-written and also addresses my thoughts while reading this paragraph. It’s really important to note that during COVID-19, many people have been scared, nervous, anxious, stressed, and more. While nature has become something we cannot observe on a daily basis due to stay at home orders, it is still able to “quench our thirst for life” as Mariah states. Mother Earth is now under better conditions after people all around the world had to stay home. COVID-19 helped reduce pollution and most importantly, it allowed people an opportunity to really immerse themselves in a unique experience like no other.
“Having each some shingles of thought well dried…”
Thoreau seems, at times, critical of his neighbors, particularly the villagers and the family from the Baker Farm. His appreciation for more kindred spirits, like the poet and wandering philosopher, reveal his subtle value of company in Walden Woods. Solitude is liberating, but in the long winter months, a like-minded visitor is welcome change.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak, many of us might feel critical of the company we unexpectedly have to keep. Or, grateful for a group of like-minded folks, but I’m willing to wager that’s not the case for everyone. But the important piece of wisdom Thoreau imparts upon us here is the value of a good conversation. It allows us to transcend our temporary quarantine: mentally, at least. Being fully engaged in a genuine conversation, even if you’re not lucky enough to have a philosopher on hand, allows us to “build castles in the air” which have no earthly hold. Especially with technology, we have the capacity to be together intellectually and spiritually: to Thoreau, this seems like the most vital connection. Deep in shared thought, we can be anywhere together, no longer moored solely to the present moment and its mounting stress.
Now more than ever, I am in my own head. Stuck at home all day with nobody to see and nowhere to go is starting to drive me a little bit crazy. Even with homework, video games, and Netflix, there is still a lot of time with absolutely nothing to do. So, I begin to think about life, or nature, or other lives. This paragraph is basically something i already thought about a couple days ago. Living in the woods, even with the gardening, hiking, and meditating, Thoreau probably has a lot of time to do nothing, so, he sits there and contemplates life.
[I will go with you gladly soon, but I am just concluding a serious meditation. I think that I am near the end of it. Leave me alone, then, for a while.]
I think that these the lines are the ones that hit the closest to home for me during this COVID-19 pandemic. As someone who has several immunocompromised family members, I have to take self-quarantining very seriously. It\’s hard to be alone and stuck in my home for such a long period of time, but I know it\’s for the overall well-being of not only my family but the general population.
It\’s difficult, too, watching people ignore the orders of isolation and continue about their normal lives (including some of my friends). I wish that they would understand that saying \”no\” to going out is no longer a choice in this situation, but a requirement. The longer people do not quarantine, the longer this pandemic will occur.
For now, however, I [do not] think that I am near the end of it.
[The next winter I used a small cooking-stove for economy, since I did not own the forest; but it did not keep fire so well as the open fire-place. Cooking was then, for the most part, no longer a poetic, but merely a chemic process.]
This passage not only relates to time literally – “the next winter” – but also to time figuratively. Thoreau mentions how in the past, cooking was a meticulous process. Although, as time as passed, cooking has become a job done out of pure necessity. Perhaps this is due to the arrival of new technology and simpler ways of life that have formed over time. It shows that not everything is permanent; some things are subject to change.
February 20, 2021 at 1:15 pm
Posted in: SNHUmans
See in context
February 20, 2021 at 1:13 pm
Well said, Ainsley. Given that he had TB and financial constraints, he lived that advice.
February 18, 2021 at 8:52 pm
This paragraph also discusses, as I mentioned in one of my earlier comments, Thoreau’s philosophy and how it intertwines with nature. He states that no matter what your life is like, you do not give up and reject it and complain about it. Thoreau believes the way to live your best life with what you are given is to face your problems head on instead of ignoring them because they will only continue to develop and get worse. Thoreau states things don’t change; we do. While you may be stuck with things and situations, you yourself are not stuck if you change your thinking.
February 18, 2021 at 8:47 pm
This paragraph was super important in the sense that Thoreau’s safe place, his favorite location with his favorite sounds and scents of the trees and waters and animals, became a feeling of normalcy. When Thoreau first moved into the woods, he was in awe of everything around him, and took in everything he possibly could. However, after having the same surroundings and doing the same things day after day, Thoreau was no longer satisfied in this lifestyle he had created. He states that he thought he had more lives to live, and I think that by this he means he has very different experiences ahead of him. While the woods offered and taught Thoreau so much, he can only experience so much inside of the woods, and he realized that he had gained everything he could from this experience and it was time to move on.
February 18, 2021 at 8:26 pm
I really enjoyed this paragraph. Thoreau discusses how thinking better thoughts can lead to living a better life. Looking at things with optimism can often make bad things less bad, which Thoreau touches upon. A lot of Thoreau’s writings are entirely based around not only nature but also the way he thinks and his own personal philosophy. Thoreau believes we are blessed to be alive no matter the circumstances and it is up to us to make the best out of what we are given in life, as he displays with his very simplistic and seemingly lonesome lifestyle.
February 18, 2021 at 8:08 pm
This paragraph speaks a lot about Thoreau’s intense attention to detail. Not only does he detail the thickness and thinness of the ice, but he also discusses the relation between the thickness of the ice and the way it melts. Thoreau also discusses in-depth the way that the temperature causes state changes in the ice and the way it impacts the water at different lengths. I doubt many people, and I know I haven’t, have ever put that much thought and consideration into ice and the way it melts. While it also speaks a lot to Thoreau’s surroundings, it speaks even more to his attention to detail, especially in nature. He notices everything he possibly can, and thinks about it and what it means as opposed to letting it be a passing thought, which is what most do.
February 18, 2021 at 4:36 pm
I love the line about being more alone when we are around people we have nothing in common with, compared to being by yourself.
February 18, 2021 at 4:29 pm
[ I one evening overtook one of my townsmen, who has accumulated what is called “a handsome property”,—though I never got a fair view of it,—on the Walden road, driving a pair of cattle to market, who inquired of me how I could bring my mind to give up so many of the comforts of life. I answered that I was very sure I liked it passably well; I was not joking. And so I went home to my bed, and left him to pick his way through the darkness and the mud to Brighton,—or Bright-town,—which place he would reach some time in the morning.]
Another example of Thoreau exemplifying his passion and reasoning for isolation.
February 17, 2021 at 10:57 am
This paragraph is showing how Thoreau felt about falling into a sense of normalcy and habit, he was not fond of it. He is also saying humanity will have a lasting impact on Earth regardless of how minimalistic or big people get, so long as there is a habit of doing things by everyone, there will be a notable footprint of those habits.
February 17, 2021 at 10:52 am
I really enjoy seeing the seasonal birds come back from the south or wherever they migrate to and I had the same appreciation when Thoreau showed the level of excitement towards the sparrow.
The way Thoreau talks about the grass and sort of compares it to his own life was particularly interesting. Grass, even though frozen and covered for most of Winter, still comes back to life and grows quickly and strongly as compared to people getting busier since the air is warmer.
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