Thoreau emphasizes the beauty of life one can live without the interference, or temptation of technology. This is a common concern in Gleick’s The Information, in which the progression throughout time opens the door to various new inventions, and critics of technology fear the effect it’ll have on humans. Today, we see a stark difference between Thoreau’s technology-free life where one is “reawakened” with the reality and beauty of life without the help of “mechanical aids,” and current day modern times where many are too consumed with their phones, or computers and forget the meaning of life.
When Thoreau talks about old people, he says they have no valuable information to pass on to the younger generation: “They have told me nothing, and probably cannot tell me any thing, to the purpose. Here is life, an experiment to a great extent untried by me…” As much as I agree with his view, I also disagree. When we are born, old people give us as much knowledge as possible so by the time we go to school and are educated, we know more than they do, because we have learned everything they taught us, and then some. However, old people have gone through most of life at this point and, let’s say he is talking about retired people, they either regret their course because they have worked their whole life and never appreciated anything, or they are happy with what they’ve done and have a big family or something. however, people have different values, and just because someone is old and happy with their lives, does not mean that somebody younger will find happiness from doing the same thing. listening to what older people have to say is somewhat like studying the humanities; it is a story of how another person lived. However, young people have their whole lives ahead of them and have yet to choose their path. So when Thoreau says, “I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors”, he means that he will find out what brings him happiness on his own, and their stories may go against what he believes in.
In this paragraph, Thoreau places emphasis on his seclusion from the rest of the world while living in the woods next to Walden Pond, and how it brings him content. I, too, have shared this same mindset with Thoreau where I do enjoy being by myself sometimes. I feel like everyone should have alone time, and it’s a healthy factor in one’s daily life. As for technology in connection with this situation, I believe it plays a significant part in distancing ourselves from the rest of the world, but with a negative influence. With the progression into the future, technology will always be a prominent force in our everyday lives. However, humans need to learn how to balance the utilization of technology in their lives, and make sure not to have it encroach too much into the important things in life, such as family, friends, and experiences.
“With thinking we may be beside ourselves in a sane sense. By a conscious effort of the mind we can stand aloof from actions and their consequences; and all things, good and bad, go by us like a torrent. We are not wholly involved in Nature. I may be either the drift-wood in the stream, or Indra in the sky looking down on it”
Solitude is certainly conducive to thinking, particularly thinking deeply. When we’re fully absorbed in thought, we’re able to assume a perspective disentangled from the distractions of the self. For a few moments, at least. In the quote above, Thoreau seems to indicate an instance of objective thought. More often than not, our thoughts are formed with the subjective in mind, if they’re not outright egocentric. But we all possess the ability to exist outside our subjective selves and consider the beyond: stuff like ‘the eternal’ and ‘objective truths.’ In that sense, as Thoreau points out, we can momentarily exist apart from ourselves. He calls this a ‘doubleness’ in thought.
In my experience, I’ve become familiar with the sense of ‘spectating’ my life in a detached way. Like Thoreau, I wouldn’t necessarily call this doubleness, this standing beside my life, a good thing. When I consider “my self” objectively, often in moments of extreme unreality (and solitude), I’m wont to be overly critical and cold. It’s also frightening to see yourself as just another human, who will make mistakes and eventually die like everyone else. But I appreciate the moments of clarity it affords me. This type of thinking is great for getting lost in writing, and also for acting without thinking during overwhelmingly stressful situations, but not for day-to-day existence. As Thoreau writes, “we are not wholly involved in Nature” here, and feeding too much to the detached, objective side of our thoughts takes the joy out of life and “may easily make us poor neighbors and friends”, lacking the ability to connect to someone’s subjective experience.
I’m really interested in Thoreau’s notion of the spectator. Above I connected it to objective thought, but I also think this lends itself well to Eastern philosophy. When he writes “that is no more I than it is you” of the detached, observant spectator, it brings to mind the concept of “oneness”, or everything being connected as a manifestation of ‘God.’ Perhaps this spectator, that exists for all of us, is indication of some base spirituality. It’s a lot to consider.
But, in an attempt to connect this to technology somehow, the word spectator reminds me of language in video games. In the online game LoL, you can ‘spectate’ a match other people are playing without being involved in the game yourself. As a spectator, you can move between the perspectives of any/all players, while not being a player yourself. This isn’t very fun, but you can learn from other players’ real-time experience, which tracks onto Thoreau’s concept of a spectator “sharing no experience [with the self], but taking note of it.”
When working, I put in earbuds, listen to music, and disconnect from the world. This is a common occurrence if I’m writing an essay or doing work around my house. This is because I prefer solitude when I need to focus. Similar to Thoreau, solitude is a great aid in life that doesn’t matter how close you are to others, when you need it, you can find solitude. Thoreau’s point on how company soon turns wearisome and dissipating rings true, especially in the life of an introvert such as I. Being able to take the time to distance yourself and focus on either yourself or your work allows you to rest and recharge.
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.
Here, Thoreau describes the whistle of a passing train “piercing” the calmness and stillness of his woods. With this come the merchants from the city who are urgent to trade. I live in the suburbs, so I’m not very close to train tracks, but I do hear the alarm raised by the fire house that is fairly close to where I live, which can be comparable to the similar sounds Thoreau experienced in Walden Pond. With the rise in technology, the ‘sounds’ it is composed of and releases make an appearance in our everyday lives. Today, we hear the sound of a train whistle, of a car horn, the tap of fingers on computer keys…Years and years ago these sounds were almost foreign-like in the woods in which Thoreau resided. Today, these sounds are an everyday presence in our lives that we don’t even seem to realize, or take notice of due to its “normalcy.”
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.
“yet this only is reading, in a high sense, not that which lulls us as a luxury and suffers the nobler faculties to sleep the while, but what we have to stand on tiptoe to read and devote our most alert and wakeful hours to”
Thoreau is of the opinion that reading should be an activity on a higher level of consciousness, unlike the supposedly numbed mental processes of easy reading. It’s safe to assume he would be a proponent of close reading, and consider reading with a deep and undivided focus the ‘noblest’ form. But what would he make of our easier than easy reading today, for instance, a thread on Twitter? Undoubtedly we are reading that thread, but not in the noblest sense of close reading that Thoreau prefers. However, to think reading a thread on Twitter is not actually reading is misguided, because our brain adapts to the information we consume and how we choose to consume it. Depending on the thread, I suppose you could close read on Twitter, but it’s more likely that you may use hyperreading techniques like scanning or skimming. In reality, if we were to close read every text we came upon, we would have way too much information. And in our present age of information inundation, we have the luxury to choose which information is important and which is not, and adjust our reading level accordingly. In her article, N. Katherine Hayles mentions a book titled The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, which pinpoints concerns about the overwhelming shift toward hyperreading rather than close reading as the primary reading ability, especially in our generation. Hayles explains Carr’s position: “He readily admits that Web reading has enormously increased the scope of information available, from global politics to scholarly debates. He worries, however, that hyperreading leads to changes in brain function that make sustained concentration more difficult, leaving us in a constant state of distraction in which no problem can be explored for very long before our need for continuous stimulation kicks in and we check e-mail, scan blogs, message someone, or check our RSS feeds” (67). This certainly rings true for my reading experience online, especially if the online text requires us to mentally ‘stand on tip-toe’ to grasp. I still prefer the physicality of a book because the experience is much more immersive. But I can’t deny the fact that I read much more content digitally, not quite thinking of the words under posts and threads as ‘true reading’, which is a bad habit to get into.
This particular paragraph made me feel nostalgic in a way. Here, Thoreau is commenting on his personal connection to his hometown and Walden Pond. In a sense, he is a part of the history and of the landscape that comprise his home. Not only that, but he also stands witness to the future, as he sees new life budding before him. This situation reminded me of my own hometown, which played a vital role in my childhood. I experienced feelings of nostalgia as I left to attend college, and it was bittersweet when I returned home and found that it was “different” from when I had previously left. For example, my old high school went through a complete renovation. In this sense, I have a way of relating with Thoreau, in which these places will always be home to us, even as it is ever evolving.
Thoreau speaks of pain being the reward for his labor, a premise that would sound horrible to anyone reading this today. But looking deeper, a man who has his work barely published, in a journal with small circulation, that man gets experience and a push to improve. Today, we have such a desire for instant gratification that most people who found themselves in a situation like this would get fed up. Thoreau seemingly praises the benefits of hard work, even without the promise of reward. Hard work and improvement is the reward, and you can tell how Thoreau is grateful for the experience and improvements it led to.
I love Thoreau’s description of night sounds in this section, particularly of the owl and the bullfrog. His description of these natural sounds and the emotions they evoke in the listener ring true despite the fact that they were written over a hundred years ago. Certain sounds and animal calls seem to be woven into the human experience, seldom changing between ages. Even those sounds we might not call ‘plesasant’, like the haunting cry of an owl. Even this strange sound has its rightful place: “suited to swamps and twilight woods which no day illustrates, suggesting a vast and undeveloped nature which men have no recognized.” Thoreau’s suggestion of a “vast and undeveloped nature” unrecognized by man is intriguing. Today, technological sounds have become a sort of “second nature” to us (e.g. a phone ringing or a text-alert, a T.V. or radio playing in the other room, cars/trains going past, dial-up, printers, etc.) but do we take the time to truly recognize the sounds we hear as part of our new nature? I can imagine a poem written about birdsong and “beautiful Nature”, but what about an ode to text-tones? This sound is certainly part of our “beautiful Nature” now in the sense that we probably hear text-tones as often as birdsong, but our attention to it as such is under-developed. “But now a more dismal arid fitting day dawns, and a different race of creatures awakes to express the meaning of Nature there”: I know Thoreau is talking about creatures of the night, but in a way, the technological age awakes a “different race of creatures” (us, who see, hear, and interact with the world in an unprecedented manner via technology) to express a particular meaning of nature. I appreciate that Thoreau’s definition of nature is not static. Nature, and our understanding of it, may be historically situated, constantly in flux from age to age. Our Nature in the technological age envelops many of the familiar natural sounds, but with the addition of newly naturalized mechanical sounds.
It’s interesting to see the transformation of Sandy Pond over a twenty-five time span described by Thoreau. Upon reading this, I didn’t realize how something as simple as a pond could fluctuate and transform so much over time. With that being said, it can be said that such natural forces as these remain obscure from the human eye for this change cannot physically be seen until someone notices a transformable presence. For example, Thoreau’s friends didn’t believe that the water in the sand bar helped him boil a kettle of chowder for the water in that channel used to be limited in depth. However, over a twenty-five year time frame, the water level rose. This circumstance can easily related to the concept of time. Time is an undoubtable force to be reckoned with. The clock is always ticking, and as time passes, changes occur in our lives, such as this that most of us are imperceptive to.
Thoreau knows everything about this pond. He knows the size of it, he knows the few colors it turns, he knows what it looks like up close compared to what it looks like far away. Thoreau obviously spent a lot of time at this pond. This paragraph is a good example of showing time because the color will be different in the spring or summer than it would in the summer. In the winter, it would look completely different, especially if it freezes over. He even knows what it looks like from the mountains. Thoreau obviously spent a lot o time at this pond.
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.
This paragraph made me think on the plethora of cases in society today of police pulling over Black drivers much more often than they do White drivers. Like Thoreau, these are just people going about their everyday life when those in power choose to stop them and lord that power over them.
The ideas from this particular chapter differs from Thoreau’s chapter on “Solitude.” In Solitude, Thoreau emphasizes his isolation and seclusion from the rest of the world. However, in this chapter he mentions receiving visitors more than he has ever before. In this sense, it makes me wonder if Thoreau enjoys both solitude and company, rather than just solitude which he encourages in his previous chapter.
[I THINK that I love society as much as most, and am ready enough to fasten myself like a bloodsucker for the time to any full-blooded man that comes in my way.]
Although it is the very beginning of the section, you can already see the contrast between this part and the previous section, ‘Solitude’. In ‘Solitude’, Thoreau discusses in depth what it is like to live alone, almost completely cut off from civilization. He seems to enjoy being alone for the most part with the occasional visitor. Here, however, his statement is contradictory. This makes it sound like being secluded is not all that he cracked it up to be, and that he would rather rejoin the rest of society.
Right off the bat, this passage starts off different than most of the rest. While most passages are about solitariness or criticizing the way some others might live, this starts off with him saying he loves society. This is a little ironic considering he went to live as far away from society as he can for two years. The overall sound of this section is different too, it almost seems busier, with words like “souls”, and “exclaim”, and even with the quotes of conversations.
One of the strict business habits Thoreau describes, and wishes to develop is to learn and take advantage of all the new technology in relation to expeditions and navigation. What I found most intriguing about this passage is his vivid description of his personal concept of “business habits,” and everything that might encompass the world of business. He seems to describe business, not just solely for the purpose of monopoly and financial gain, but rather as an area of study representing a whole new world of learning and serving as a gateway for new inventions and improvements.
Having abandoned the reverential attitude once afforded to simple tasks, we live the “meanest” and most desperate lives by using our time as a means to an end, where capital gain is more often the end. I couldn’t begin to tell you how often people have asked, after I tell them I’m an English major: “What are you going to do with that?” This question can be more accurately re-phrased as: “But how will you make money with your degree?” Thankfully, I don’t view my education as merely a means to an end. That’s along the lines of the mean and desperate way of living Thoreau mentions. Only a few adults in my life can fathom the value of an education outside STEM because money has become the fulcrum around which our lives turn. But, like Thoreau, I am determined not to revere capital gain, but rather, my unique experience as I’m living it. Most importantly, these are experiences that teach me something new, broaden my current perspective, or change my mind entirely.
The thing is, when we act heedlessly and irreverently (e.g. rushing through your work just to get it done, angrily cleaning your room when you’re in a bad mood, doing anything half-heartedly or unconsciously), we forfeit our ability to enjoy the moment. The dinner you really don’t feel like making right now because there’s more “important” things on your to-do list was once considered a “sacred artform” with associated ceremonies and rituals. What we tend to forget is that it still could be, and perhaps it should be so.
Any action may be elevated beyond banality if you approach it with due reverence, even mundane activities like making dinner or driving home from work. As humans, can we really afford to live without reverence? And I don’t mean religious reverence: if we can’t see the artistry in our daily tasks, the sacredness created in the sense that we are paying undivided attention to this action in this moment, what sort of life are we living? I agree with Thoreau, that an irreverent life seems degraded and mean. Many tasks we wouldn’t spare a second thought, like making dinner, driving to work, getting dressed for the day, etc. are robbed of their reverence by the press of time and money. If we took the adequate time and energy to do our daily tasks with the love and attention they deserve, our lives would be much more personally rewarding. And that’s about the best you can get out of life.
“It is itself unchanged, the same water which my youthful eyes fell on; all the change is in me. It has not acquired one permanent wrinkle after all its ripples.”
According to Thoreau, water is one facet of the ageless beauty in nature. Water, not alive but certainly beholden to some lively characteristics, does not wither with time like living organisms do. It makes me sad to imagine how shocked Thoreau would be at the quality of even the cleanest bodies of water today… impossibly, they are beginning to show the detriments of time and human wear, mostly due to pollution. Despite this, water retains its essential characteristics, albeit with more trash amidst the pond-dwellers: “the same thought is welling up to its surface that was then; it is the same liquid joy and happiness.” Water still flows with the same ferocity and remains still with like serenity in 2020 as it did in 1854. It continues to inspire us, calm us, and call us visiting. If we take time to notice, many parts of nature remain unchanged and somewhat eternal. Unfortunately, though, we must also realize their sanctity is being threatened– by time, but mostly callous human choices.
Ultimately, Thoreau is referring to the doubts that individuals share in terms of the advancement of technology and communication. He explains how these inventions serve as “improved means to an unimproved end.” Why are humans so eager to build inventions that connect opposite ends of the world together, and foster instantaneous communication? Do we need all of these inventions, and are they imperative to humanity and our every day lives? Thoreau seems to hint that the concerns critics of technology share is that the idea and sensibility behind humanity is lost in the wake of the creation of these inventions.
Thoreau seems to be speaking remorsefully about the views society continues to have on work. We are expected to work hard through most of our life and only truly living it many years down the line. Thoreau’s line, “but I wish, as you are brothers of mine, that you could have spent your time better than digging in this dirt,” is a direct reference to his desire that people experience and live life, not just kill themselves slowly living, working, for the sake of others instead of themselves. This mindset of working most of your life and retiring in older age still exists today and is a point of remorse for many that would probably agree with a lot of what Thoreau stated in this section, outside of this paragraph. That being said, Thoreau doesn’t think it is the worst thing to work, stating that the workers “might have done worse…” but you cannot escape the melancholy and regret in Thoreau’s writing at the state of the workforce spending most of their lives trapped by work that only brings them closer to death instead of living.
Thoreau speaks well on the advancements of methods of communication in his time without the benefit of advancing that which is to be communicated. Certainly, he gets this point across well: What if there is indeed naught to say betwixt Texas and Maine? But, of course, just because one has nothing to say does not mean that such channels are devoid of words and words and words. Not unlike social media today, it is simply a flush of content that most often has no meaning behind it, no value. Indeed, most humans have nothing of import to say at most times. And yet, we speak anyway, to some extent under the allusion that we are saying something rather than just exercising our vocal cords, and to some extent because the ability to communicate constantly has made us afraid of silence. There is so much that is communicated today and so much that is received that even the few things of true import are lost and devalued in the storm.
A pair of quotes from Kurt Vonnegut come to mind. First, to the basis of Thoreau’s point: “Who is more to be pitied, the writer who is bound and gagged by policemen or the one living in perfect freedom who has nothing to say?” And, form my favourite Vonnegut novel, Cat’s Cradle, which I think aptly summarizes social media and indeed much of the Information Age: “People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order so they’ll have good voice boxes in case there’s ever anything really meaningful to say.”
I was interested at looking at paragraph seven (beginning “if one listens to the faintest but constant suggestions…”) in the fluid text edition of Walden primarily to see context for the whimsical, poetic sentences concluding the paragraph: “The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.” Thoreau’s language in these sentences sounds more romantic than his usual, grounded-but-philosophical style.
As it turns out, these two saccharine sentences remained the same through all seven versions. The romantics in us may rest assured that these words must have came into existence in a moment of passing genius, perfectly realized in a fleeting instance. Brilliance is as transient as the “segment of the rainbow” clutched momentarily by Thoreau; he must have seen something like brilliance in these sentences to cling to. What’s more revealing is the action in the surrounding lines.
According to the earliest version from 1847, these two sentences were located at the very end of “Higher Laws.” In fact, only one sentence comes after them in Version A, which seems hastily tacked on: “But practically I am but only half-converted by my own arguments for I still fish.” Perhaps some of the beauty of the two sentences I mention above stems from the fact they were once the finale of a chapter, the final burst in a flow of thought. In Versions B-D, Thoreau deletes the self-conscious aside and ends “Higher Laws” with the rainbow. But the other sentence trailing off the end reveals how Thoreau was unsatisfied, even then, with this conclusion. In Version E, he expands on the line of thought he originally ended “Higher Laws” with, instead.
Version E shows major revisions in “Higher Laws”: Thoreau changes the beginning of paragraph seven from first person perspective to third person: “I” to “one” or “his,” opening the discussion to his audience, rather than keeping it beholden to himself alone. He also perfects the transition between the end of paragraph seven and the new beginning of the eighth paragraph: the fried rat. For some reason, I found the transition from clutching a segment of rainbow to eating a fried rat “with a good relish” truly humorous. I bet that’s not what Thoreau intended, but the transition is amusingly jarring, and follows from the original tag-along sentence. The opening sentence of paragraph eight reflects a similar sentiment: Thoreau is half-converted by his own arguments because, despite his “true harvest” of highest reality, he knows eating a fried rat may be simultaneously necessary. This new sentence retains the honest self-assessment of the original, with more humor and structural style.
[I speak understandingly on this subject, for I have made myself acquainted with it both theoretically and practically. ]
Thoreau made only a few changes to this passage throughout the different versions of Walden, but the majority of them were made to this specific sentence. In Version A, Thoreau had originally written “advisedly” instead of “understandingly”. In Version B, he changed what used to be “gone into” into “made myself acquainted with”. I wonder what led him to make these changes. They do not change the meaning of the passage drastically, but I sense a slight shift in tone from giving advice to more speaking from experience.
The passage of time, as expressed by nature, is always fascinating and beautiful. No matter what goes on in the world, it always seem that the leaves will change for Fall, Winter will strip them bare, then in spring life begins again. It is a beautiful cycle, even in the odd moments where it seems that nature forgets how things usually work, like the snow we just recently had on Long Island. But nothing is more incredible than how nature, and life, prevails over time. Like in Venice, where fish have returned to waters that are now clear despite how long they had been murky with the presence of man.
April 4, 2020 at 4:52 pm
Posted in: ENGL 340 S20 Geneseo
See in context
April 3, 2020 at 10:49 pm
This first paragraph is the one I chose as my fluid text example, because in reading both the original and that of version A, I noticed some striking differences. The message overall still rings true, and is seen in both versions: that though time may feel paused in the woods, in such an isolated and serene part of the forest, life continues on, and seasons continue to change. Time, although it often feels abstract, is a constant, and always moving forward. One change I noticed was in the first sentence, when “the whole body is one sense” is changed to “the whole body seems to be one sense” in version A. This is interesting because it takes the state of the body from being a fact to being a subjective thing. It forces the reader to acknowledge that what they’re reading is a subjective reality of the narrator, and is not entirely fact.
April 3, 2020 at 10:16 pm
Posted in: General Discussion
In the fluid text edition, we can see the way in which Thoreau amends this passage by incorporating significance within the human experience. It is interesting to me that he makes this revision because of the way it shapes his world view and perspective on mankind. Thoreau’s belief we are most interested “when science reports what those men know practically or instinctively…” is one which could be extended to his ideas on how to judge right from wrong.
April 3, 2020 at 10:14 pm
April 3, 2020 at 9:56 pm
April 3, 2020 at 8:45 pm
I have chosen to talk about this paragraph for fluid text influence because to me the change of the text was the most captivating. Certain phrases throughout the first two sentences changed my aspect on the details throughout the journey he took during his writing. The fluid text given to us has helped me understand the peaceful message that Walden was trying to give us, and some sentences I liked more in the fluid version than in this version. I specifically liked when he was talking about the waves sending him through the journey quickly. I also being able to click on specific parts of a sentence to see the changes given and overall understand why Walden decided to make those chagnes.
I also like that throughout all of the passages you can see that some paragraphs did not need to be edited at all and can see how those paragraphs also affected the changes in other paragraphs.
April 3, 2020 at 7:22 pm
[Suddenly an influx of light filled my house, though the evening was at hand, and the clouds of winter still overhung it, and the eaves were dripping with sleety rain. I looked out the window, and lo! where yesterday was cold gray ice there lay the transparent pond already calm and full of hope as in a summer evening, reflecting a summer evening sky in its bosom, though none was visible overhead, as if it had intelligence with some remote horizon. ]
I was particularly interested in the changes made in Versions A-G of Walden: A Fluid Text Edition in paragraph 15 because of the decision to omit this passage altogether. When I read this paragraph, the imagery of the passage was influential in my understanding of paragraph 19, because of the connections of light and dark, winter and spring, death and birth, that are meant to juxtapose each other. Whereas in Versions A-G, the imagery of the gray ice is completely missing and as a result, altered my connection to the remaining paragraphs. It makes me wonder why these lines of vivid description were deleted and why they were no longer relevant or necessary to the text.
April 3, 2020 at 6:46 pm
[The Fitchburg Railroad touches the pond about a hundred rods south of where I dwell. I usually go to the village along its causeway, and am, as it were, related to society by this link. The men on the freight trains, who go over the whole length of the road, bow to me as to an old acquaintance, they pass me so often, and apparently they take me for an employee; and so I am. I too would fain be a track-repairer somewhere in the orbit of the earth.]
In the fluid-text edition of this passage in Walden, this entire paragraph is basically missing. The only piece remaining is the line: “The Fitchburg Railroad then newly constructed touches the pond within about a hundred rods of my house”. I find this very interesting, because the rest of the paragraph was obviously an afterthought.
April 3, 2020 at 6:44 pm
I enjoy this chapter of the book because I think the “solitude” of Thoreau’s situation is one of the most intriguing aspects of the book. I chose to address this passage in particular as I noticed it is completely cut out of Version A of Walden. I wanted to touch upon why this might be as there must have been a reason behind this passage being removed while others remained. As I look at the rest of the passages in this chapter and how they might compare to this paragraph, he starts the chapter off with a very broad sense of how he observes the nature around him. However, he follows this with a paragraph of a specific look into a situation in his own life, then right into another paragraph of an experience he had. I think this second passage in the chapter was removed from Version A because it makes for a smoother transition into a new theme. I also think this creates a deeper sense for the reader by leaving out a paragraph that does not have much meaning to it, while the following paragraph has a more valuable insight to consider following the first paragraph in the chapter.
April 3, 2020 at 5:37 pm
In regards to fluid text, this paragraph I found to be interesting. For starters, this paragraph wasn’t even included in earlier editions, this paragraph didn’t appear until late 1852-1853, nearly five years after Walden first began writing Walden in 1847. Another particularly interesting thing about this paragraph is that Thoreau didn’t change that much, many just the wording – changing things from present tense to past tense and revising the order of the words. Compared to the rest of this portion of the text, more revisions were made in other paragraphs that to this one, which also appeared much later than the others.
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