[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.
“It is true, I might have resisted forcibly with more or less effect, might have run ‘amok’ against society; but I preferred that society should run ‘amok’ against me, it being the desperate party”
How is society a “desperate party”? In the last few sections, Thoreau uses the word “desperate” to describe the reckless nature of some men and their society. “Desperate” is rather vague, but some synonyms I find especially applicable to Thoreau’s meaning of the word are “hasty”, “rash”, “desirous”, and “demoralized.” Thoreau’s fellow man seemed to lack the deliberation with which he led his life; instead, their lives are governed by rash decisions based on wayward desires, grounded in no certain morality. The list of synonyms marches on to include “lawless”, “violent”, and “resigned.” Thoreau knew the weight of the word he was using, and that weight has only increased over the years. With concern, Thoreau indicates how society seems ever more resigned to desperation rather than deliberation.
In the quote above, Thoreau re-iterates his civil disobedience. Rather than ‘running amok’ against society by evading the law, he calmly accepts his charge and does time in jail. He allows society, that desperate party, to run amok against him. I take this to mean he threw himself with some faith into that jail cell, figuring all the while that ‘society’ would do its utmost to keep him there. It seems he accepted this as a possibility, but kept faith that his fate would never be decided by desperate men and their “dirty institutions.” He was right, but the same cannot be said for many people in America today. Unfortunately, a country led by desperate men sows desperation among its citizens. “Dirty institutions” regularly decide the fate of our country, and by extension, the fate of our people, disparaging some and wildly benefitting others. How much longer can we trust society to “run amok” against us, fairly? How long before our best option may be to run amok against society ourselves?
October 13, 2022 at 1:16 am
Posted in: Emerson-Thoreau SUNY Geneseo
I am a life long reader of Thoreau Walden. I have translated this book into Persian and published it in Iran too. I would always like to discuss this eternal book with fellow American readers. I love this connection. Here is some food for thought and a good subject for discussion:
We live on a planet. Any life similar to ours must naturally form on a planet. Why then Thoreau is referring to the inhabitants of a star? What form of life is conceivable on a star:
How far apart, think you, dwell the two most distant inhabitants of yonder star, the breadth of whose disk cannot be appreciated by our instruments?
See in context
March 19, 2022 at 1:10 pm
Posted in: General Discussion
Okay I have been reading Paradice lost By John Milton, however me though on this line is what if it is an experiment? That is what fascinates me about society is that it is a giant social experiment that we live every day. That we as people have to work together in this world to survive.
February 25, 2022 at 10:30 am
Posted in: SNHUmans
Oftentimes people attribute small homes to a sense of closeness or homeliness. However, Thoreau attributes it to a stuffy environment, one where people can’t voice their thoughts clearly because there isn’t enough room.
February 25, 2022 at 10:27 am
A paragraph full of Greek mythology allusions, the gods he includes are all associated with medicine and healing of some kind. Curiously enough, he doesn’t include Apollo himself, the god of medicine.
February 25, 2022 at 9:58 am
An overview of Thoreau’s minimalist thoughts, he does mention Confucius teachings many times throughout Walden. From there he establishes that in life, a person doesn’t need a strict timetable of their day. Rather, living in the moment and taking your time to meander about is the best way to live.
February 25, 2022 at 1:09 am
The best example of Thoreau’s scientific observations, without his detailed notes we wouldn’t have a good idea of what the environment was like during the 1800s.
February 25, 2022 at 1:04 am
An interesting dialogue between Thoreau and the many poets of the time. The main topic of discussion between the two parties seems to be work, and how much work should be done to receive rewards and favors. In this case, it seems that only a minimal amount should be expected. The poet collects bait for fishing, while the hermit fishes. In the end, the two enjoy each other’s company as friends with the transaction of labor complete.
February 25, 2022 at 12:52 am
A long paragraph describing Walden Pond, it shows Thoreau’s journalistic side very well. He establishes a humble scene for the pond in comparison to the sea, yet still manages to give it a flair that shines in its own way that entices the reader to visit the pond in an instant.
February 25, 2022 at 12:44 am
Thoreau’s view here is very optimistic, with the opinion that people will do no harm if there isn’t an expectation of harm. And in his case, that philosophy has held out. However, one has to ask, with today’s standards in both a moral and societal stance, would that philosophy still hold true?
February 25, 2022 at 12:38 am
In the infinite dark one can find themself and what their place in the world is. Only by disconnecting from what we find familiar can we tread a new path that leads us to the “strangeness of Nature”. What Thoreau means to say is that when we are away from what we know, we can find new things about ourselves in a spiritual sense.
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