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Comments Tagged ‘observation’

  • Economy 1-14 (1 comment)

    • Comment by anthony guttilla on February 16, 2020

      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.

  • Economy 15-29 (1 comment)

    • Comment by Mitchell Pace on February 12, 2020

      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.

  • Economy 30-44 (1 comment)

    • Comment by Maeve Morley on February 11, 2020

      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.

  • Economy 71-81 (3 comments)

    • Comment by Maeve Morley on February 16, 2020

      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.

      Comment by Mitchell Pace on February 17, 2020

      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.

      Comment by Claire Rogers on February 17, 2020

      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.”

Source: https://commons.digitalthoreau.org/walden/comments/tags/observation/

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