[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?
May 20, 2020 at 10:43 pm
Posted in: ENGL 340 S20 Geneseo
This passage is clearly talking about societal standards and mass consumerism. The taste for new patterns refers to peoples craving for new clothes. When new things arise, people will buy. Production companies are aware of this and use it to their advantage. Tattooing yourself an image by what you buy and what you wear can be something that is unalterable. Many people will try to dress a certain way in order to be seen in a certain way. If a celebrity is wearing 500 dollar gold hoops, people are going to scrap together 500 dollars and get those gold hoops. Ita all about an image, and that is what Thoreau is trying to say.
See in context
May 20, 2020 at 10:38 pm
To me, this seems like Thoreau is getting tired of isolation. Sure, he had stated once before that he wanted the isolation, and Walden was his way to enjoy himself and separate from others, but I think he partly wants to be with others again. Anyone can be away from people for a certain amount of time, but as the days go on, you’re gonna miss having interactions. Maybe Thoreau doesn’t know what he wants? He can type anything he can think pf, but without being in his head, can we ever truly know what he wants? Walden may bring him joy, but maybe he is seeking a deeper kinda joy that only society can bring him.
May 20, 2020 at 10:34 pm
I would like to compare this paragraph to the situations we are living in due to the COVID 19 pandemic. What struck out to me first glance was when Thoreau said: “It is remarkable what value is still put upon wood even in this age…” This compares to the value put on hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and masks. In light of the pandemic, everything has been sold out and people are willing to pay triple the price just to get some of these “valuables.” In fact, while crazy, even toilet paper because of an extreme valuable that was completely sold out everywhere. People could gather these supplies in bulk and sell them for triple the price to needy people. These were worth value. “Neither could I do without them,” Thoreau says. Neither can we do without them, the United States says.
May 20, 2020 at 10:26 pm
I think this paragraph is really interesting in terms of how it is worded. “As precious to my eye as if fewer or rarer.” Thoreau is saying that in his eyes, he has never seen anything as precious as Walden on that day. What makes Walden so beautiful? IS it the mirror that makes Walden so beautiful, and if the mirror no longer existed, would he still be as beautiful? Maybe it is the mirror that is the real beautiful thing, hence it making everything else beautiful. Thoreau also states that all impurity presented to its sinks. Does the mirror take in ll that impurity or does the impurity gets overthrown by the beauty? I really like this paragraph because it makes you think.
May 20, 2020 at 10:18 pm
In regards to time, I can see many references placed within this paragraph. The pond “rising and falling” obviously happens over time. As the sun sets the pond will set, and as the sun rises the pond will rise. Seasons have an effect on the pond, much like seasons have an effect on humans. People often feel different ways depending on the weather, such does the pond. Higher in the winter and lower in the summer, it all revolves around time and what time can change. The passage is talking about old memories and what those memories mean. Time can change many things and bring people apart or together, but memories are something that time can never change. The White Pond can symbolize a lot, but in terms of time, it can symbolize how you can’t stop a clock, but you can keep the memories created while the clock is ticking.
May 13, 2020 at 3:37 pm
With this praising description of Spring, Thoreau makes a sharp contrast to wintertime. As someone who has experienced the strifes of seasonal affective disorder, this paragraph really resonates with me. Spring is my favorite season and perhaps the hope that Thoreau suggests comes with it is why. Thoreau describes springtime as a new beginning that gives you a chance to bloom and I think that is beautiful.
May 13, 2020 at 3:28 pm
I found Thoreau’s assertions equating the different times of day to the seasons to be quite interesting. Of course, everyone knows that it is typically in the process of getting warm in the morning, to then peak in the afternoon, before beginning to cool down into the night. Thoreau’s explanation is so logical to me as the progression through the day really does mimic the seasons. I am a person that is a firm believer in the claim that time is a manmade concept and, therefore, is not real. However, I feel that Thoreau’s argument here really made me reconsider my thoughts about time and how it affects our lives.
May 13, 2020 at 1:38 pm
This is SUCH an interesting paragraph – The metaphor Thoreau strikes up about a bedroom being a cell, a prison, instead of living quarters – how sectioning off the house is almost a sinister way to live, with suspicious amounts of privacy. The part that resonated with me the most was, “where a guest is to be presented with the freedom of the house, and not to be carefully excluded from seven-eighths of it.” Thoreau’s suddenly make me suspicious of my own house, my own bedroom that I’m currently sitting in. He just put living into an entirely new perspective – why live in a house if you’re going to exclude yourself from experiencing it? I always assumed that having a house to own – a piece of land – is freeing. You have your own space, and no one can reside without your permission, but now that I’m looking at my own house…a prison with cells doesn’t seem like a bad comparison. That’s not to mean I dislike the house I live in if anything I adore it – it’s old and cute and has character! But I could just as easily live there if it were one room. There’s no need for the divisions.
May 13, 2020 at 10:12 am
Thoreau’s comment: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhap it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away” really resonated with me because throughout most of my academic career, I’ve always been incredibly competitive and hard on myself. It’s true, most writers are their own worst critics. As I leave my undergraduate years behind me, Thoreau’s message appears to be a token of wisdom that I ought to keep safe. Reading this passage and the rest of his Conclusion, I suppose I am beginning to realise that not everyone’s path looks the same and most of us have no idea which path we want to take, and that’s okay… at least that’s what I’ll tell myself going forward.
May 13, 2020 at 10:11 am
[the catching of the dinner was as much a social exercise as the eating of it.]
The way in which Thoreau phrases this suggests that he did not mind when he wasn’t alone, he just liked to be surrounded by people he liked, respected, and were worthy of his time. He compared baiting the fish as a social exercise much like the actual eating of it. While Thoreau lived very far away, he still engages in some sort of social activity with his companion who even visited him from the other side of the town.
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