We have an ongoing discussion on this chapter in Iran based on my Persian translation. It is hard for us to imagine that Thoreau is merely referring to early adulthood by the phrase “at a certain season of our life” in the beginning of this chapter. It also seems hard to imagine he is looking for a permanent residence. Thoreau may not be looking for a physical residence in the material world at all. The reason I think so is that later in the chapter, he says, “We are wont to imagine rare and delectable places in some remote and more celestial corner of the system, behind the constellation of Cassiopeia’s Chair, far from noise and disturbance?” A permanent house was never on T’s mind. He says, “Wherever I sat, there I might live, and the landscape radiated from me accordingly. What is a house but a sedes, a seat?” Even in the beginning of Walden he considers himself “a sojourner of civilized life.” Rumi says, “The whole seven universes are too small for me.” It is most pleasant mysteries of Walden for us in Iran. What certain season and what spot is really Thoreau speaking about here?
In his new book, Cryptic Subtexts in Literature and Film: Secret Messages and Buried Treasure (New York: Routledge, 2019), Steven F. Walker offers a new interpretation of Walden’s 1854 subtitle, “Life in the Woods.” It is well known that that subtitle was hardly original, having appeared in several publications prior to the publication of Walden, including an article of that name by Charles Lane which appears in the final issue of The Dial. Walker grants that Thoreau may have used the title “ironically,” that is, “as a vigorous rejoinder to the thesis of Lane’s Dial essay” (13). More intriguing, however, is Walker’s argument that Thoreau may have associated “life in the woods” with a phase of life known in Hindu as “vanaprastha” (literally translated as “life in the woods”)—“the third stage of life—that of the solitary, contemplative hermit living in the forest on the outskirts of the village—as described in The Laws of Manu” (14) which Thoreau read in Emerson’s library in 1840. “Such a new framing,” Walker says, “certainly provides a new perspective on Thoreau’s life-in-the-woods enterprise, which, for all its Yankee originality, also can be seen as a spiritual retreat based on an ancient Hindu paradigm of the stages of life” (16).
October 25, 2021 at 8:34 pm
Posted in: General Discussion
See in context
October 25, 2021 at 8:30 pm
[It is now many years that men have resorted to the forest for fuel and the materials of the arts;]
September 1, 2021 at 5:43 pm
[Read your fate, see what is before you, and walk on into futurity.]
I wonder if T may be suggesting a deeper sense of ‘reading,’ perhaps related to the concept of reading put forward by Simone Weil in her “Essay on the Notion of Reading.”
September 1, 2021 at 5:09 pm
Yes, Allison. For a time, we lived on the shores of Lake Champlain: Cumberland Head, north of Plattsburgh, NY. Once, as we returned home from a long trip on an extremely cold winter night (-15 F), we were stopped in our tracks by a loud, eerie, and most unsettling sound. The entire lake was groaning and wailing, evoking in us a sense of utter desolation—mournful and fearsome—as great cracks ripped through the ice, shooting out for miles; as if some impossibly great beast was suffering its last agony; a doleful, primeval utterance, quite beyond anything we had heard before. There is simply nothing like it.
August 30, 2021 at 12:17 pm
Posted in: Emerson-Thoreau SUNY Geneseo
Although one of the main reasons for Thoreau’s going to Walden Pond was to see the spring come in, he does not restrict himself to life in the spring only. Winter has its own virtues. New views from the surface of the firmly frozen ice are the souvenir of winter for Thoreau — and for us.
Ali (Thoreau’s friend in Iran)
August 30, 2021 at 11:30 am
Regarding “forms” and the difference between Rabbits and Hares, according to Wikipedia:
Hares and jackrabbits are leporids belonging to the genus Lepus. Hares are classified in the same family as rabbits. They are similar in size to rabbits and have similar herbivorous diets, but generally have longer ears and live solitarily or in pairs. They do not dig burrows, but nest in slight depressions called forms, often in long grass. Also unlike rabbits, their young are able to fend for themselves shortly after birth rather than emerging blind and helpless. Most are fast runners.
February 20, 2021 at 1:15 pm
Posted in: SNHUmans
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.
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