Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME FORUMS BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:01 am




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 7 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
Prologue - A Letter To Thoreau 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 13929
Location: Florida
Thanks: 1911
Thanked: 731 times in 581 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)
Highscores: 10

Post Prologue - A Letter To Thoreau
This thread is for discussing Prologue - A Letter to Thoreau. You can post within this framework or create your own threads.

Chris


"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandella




Mon Nov 01, 2004 8:04 pm
Profile Email YIM WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 13929
Location: Florida
Thanks: 1911
Thanked: 731 times in 581 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)
Highscores: 10

Post Re: Prologue - A Letter To Thoreau
Has anyone read Walden? Wilson is tempting me to read it with his beautiful letter to Thoreau. I've located an online version of the book, for anyone interested in reading it too.

Walden - by Henry David Thoreau

Chris




"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandella




Tue Nov 02, 2004 1:56 am
Profile Email YIM WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 13929
Location: Florida
Thanks: 1911
Thanked: 731 times in 581 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)
Highscores: 10

Post Re: Prologue - A Letter To Thoreau
A little about Thoreau...

Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in the village of Concord, Massachusetts. Under the influence of his brother John, an amateur ornithologist, he developed an early interest in nature and spent much of his youth exploring the town's ponds and woods.
Thoreau began his formal education at Concord Academy and continued his studies at Harvard College, which emphasized the classics. An avid reader and notetaker, Thoreau was interested in subjects as diverse as Greek mythology and English ballads.

While Thoreau attended Harvard, Ralph Waldo Emerson moved to Concord to begin his career as a writer and lecturer. Thoreau admired Emerson's 1836 essay, "Nature," which advanced the then-unique idea that each individual should seek a spiritually fulfilling relationship with the natural world.

After graduating from Harvard in 1837, Thoreau returned to Concord, where he taught school, improved and expanded his family's pencilmaking business, and engaged in carpentry, stonemasonry and gardening. He began his lifelong friendship and association with Emerson, who introduced him to other writers and nonconformist thinkers who were making Concord the center of new ideas. Among them were Bronson Alcott, Ellery Channing, Margaret Fuller and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Emerson, who valued Thoreau's practical talents and companionship, invited him to live in the Emerson household. Grief brought them closer together. The Emersons' first son died just two weeks after the death of Thoreau's beloved older brother. Three years later Thoreau, still suffering from this loss, wanted to live in the woods and embark on a career as a writer. When Emerson offered him the use of a newly purchased woodlot at Walden Pond, Thoreau gladly accepted.

Walden Pond was surrounded by one of the few remaining woodlands in a heavily farmed area. In March of 1845, Thoreau began planning and building his one-room house. On July 4 of that year, he took up residence at Walden. He studied natural history, gardened, wrote in his journal, read, and drafted his first book, A week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, about an 1839 trip with his brother. He also made the first accurate survey of the pond. By no means a hermit, he frequently walked to the village, entertained visitors at his house, and hired himself out as a surveyor.
In September of 1847, Thoreau completed his experiment in simplicity and became "a sojourner in civilized life again." Walden, the book that describes his experiences at the pond, was published in 1854.

Thoreau and Emerson agreed that the vacant house should not remain on the site. Thoreau gave the house to Emerson, who sold it to his gardener. Two years later two farmers bought it and moved it to the other side of Concord, where they used it to store grain. In 1868, they dismantled it for scrap lumber and put the roof on an outbuilding.

After his Walden experience, Thoreau plied his skills as a surveyor and pencilmaker to earn what little money he needed for the things that he could not "grow or make or do without." He spent his free time walking, studying and writing. He also lectured at the Concord Lyceum and elsewhere in New England, and once traveled as far as Philadelphia.

Thoreau became increasingly involved with the social and political issues of his time. He often spoke out against economic injustice and slavery. With other members of his family, Thoreau helped runaway slaves escape to freedom in Canada. His 1849 essay, "Civil Disobedience," eventually brought him international recognition.

On May 6, 1862, at the age of 44, the "self-appointed inspector of snowstorms and rainstorms" died after a prolonged struggle with tuberculosis. He is buried on Authors' Ridge at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord.


"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandella




Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:17 am
Profile Email YIM WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I dumpster dive for books!

Bronze Contributor

Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 1796
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 14 times in 12 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Prologue - A Letter To Thoreau
Wilson's very personal letter to Thoreau begins as a wonderful journey through the history of one of America's great natural and personal treasures; and ends with a Prophetic challenge regarding the devastation of the planet and life as we know it.

As he describes it,
Quote:
"the race is on between the technoscientific forces that are destroying the living environment and those that can be harnessed to save it. We are inside a bottleneck of overpopulation and wasteful consumption. If the race is won, humanity can emerge in far better condition than when it entered, and with most of the diveristy of life still in tact.


We are indeed in a desparate situation, and a new global land ethic is needed- which is really why he wrote this letter to Thoreau in the first place: to thank him for setting the wheels in motion with his Waldensian wisdom:

Quote:
Nature is ours to explore forever; it is our crucible and refuge; it is our natural home; it is all these things, Save it, you said: in wildness is the preservation of the world.


And from this Thoreuvian spur and challenge Wilson is working to find a land ethic able to guide us through the bottleneck. One that is based upon the best our intelligence and learning can develop, tapping the treasures of science and technology. He also reminds us that we will be wise to listen to the heart, and then act with rational intention and all the tools we can bring to bear on this collossal threat facing all of us.

With genuine prophetic foreboding, he warns us:

Quote:
The living world is dying; the natural economy is crumbling beneath our busy feet. We have been too self-absorbed to forsee the long-term consequences of our actions, and we will suffer a terrible loss unless we shake off the delusions and move quickly to a solution. Science and technology led us to this bottleneck. Now science and technology must help us find our way through and out.


Some questions I have for the rest of the book:

1. What is the wisdom of the heart he encourages us to pay heed to?

2. Could the crumbling "natural economy" have any relation to our expanding "global economy" of corporate capitalism?

3. What changes must take place in science and technolgoy (admittedly the source of our deadly bottleneck) in order that the terrible crises we face are not simply reproduced?

Edited by: Dissident Heart at: 11/22/04 5:20 pm



Mon Nov 22, 2004 5:18 pm
Profile


Post Re: Prologue - A Letter To Thoreau
I don't think science is necessarily the culprit, but the consumer system in which no one person is accountable for the damage done by the mass. As Voltaire said, "No snowflake in an avalanche feels responsible." A person with great technological power may actually be more likely to show responsibility than people who merely add a drop in the bucket to a widespread form of insanity and rationalize it by saying "I'm just one person and I don't do that much of the damage by myself".

At the point where the consequences of mass behavior become inescapable, I do think we'll develop a sense of accountability. It's just a matter of how miserable life has to get for everyone before everyone realizes their behavior has consequences for future generations.

Michael




Thu Dec 02, 2004 9:49 pm
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Moderator
Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 5230
Location: California
Thanks: 642
Thanked: 1342 times in 1054 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Prologue - A Letter To Thoreau
3. What changes must take place in science and technolgoy (admittedly the source of our deadly bottleneck) in order that the terrible crises we face are not simply reproduced?

I think that the change must be to increase research into future technologies. The letter even hints that this is a solution.

A parallel concern is that we mechanical human beings are never face to face with the consequences of the future. We need something to happen which will shove the entire thing in our collective faces so we must act. I really wish that this would not be the way, but we all know that the majority of people just don't care. It's sad.

EDIT - If you throw a frog into hot water, he will immediately jump out. But if you throw a frog into cold water, then slowly heat it to a boil, the frog will be cooked alive.

Edited by: Interbane at: 12/3/04 11:37 am



Fri Dec 03, 2004 11:35 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I dumpster dive for books!

Bronze Contributor

Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 1796
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 14 times in 12 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Prologue - A Letter To Thoreau
Michael: I don't think science is necessarily the culprit, but the consumer system in which no one person is accountable for the damage done by the mass.

One of the things I am finding most refreshing about this book is Wilson's willingness to hold Science and Scientists accountable for the mess we are in. He is speaking as a lifelong lover and practitioner of Science, and one of history's most prolific and influential Scientific minds: his criticism is important, even if it may turn out to be ineffective in turning the tide. It may very well be, as he points out in the book, that even if we radically changed our attitudes, habits and relationship to the Biosphere right now- and endorsed all of the principles of his universal environmental ethic- that it would still be too late. Our water, soil, vegetation, air and varieities of species life will be far too damaged to recover.

Science has a share in the blame here, as does politics, kinship relations, religion, and economics- which is the point you are making.

Michael: A person with great technological power may actually be more likely to show responsibility than people who merely add a drop in the bucket to a widespread form of insanity and rationalize it by saying "I'm just one person and I don't do that much of the damage by myself".

I'm not certain that this will be the case, nor can I be sure it won't be. I do agree that an economic system that creates a mass of alienated, disenfranchised, apathetic, and helpless consumers is no solution to the Biosphericide we are all facing; on the contrary, such an economic system can only produce greater disregard and dislocation for those who feel trapped within its largely impersonal and collosal walls.

But, I think it is more than simply "I don't do that much damage"...and is more accurately stated, "There isn't a damned thing I can do about it anyway". Thus, the rationalization that hides personal responsibility is more of an attempt to escape feeling hopeless and helpless in the face of an economic structure we neither understand nor can fathom to fix.







Mon Dec 13, 2004 6:34 pm
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 7 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:


BookTalk.org Links 
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Info for Authors & Publishers
Featured Book Suggestions
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!
    

Love to talk about books but don't have time for our book discussion forums? For casual book talk join us on Facebook.

Featured Books

Books by New Authors



Booktalk.org on Facebook 



BookTalk.org is a free book discussion group or online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a group. We host live author chats where booktalk members can interact with and interview authors. We give away free books to our members in book giveaway contests. Our booktalks are open to everybody who enjoys talking about books. Our book forums include book reviews, author interviews and book resources for readers and book lovers. Discussing books is our passion. We're a literature forum, or reading forum. Register a free book club account today! Suggest nonfiction and fiction books. Authors and publishers are welcome to advertise their books or ask for an author chat or author interview.


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSBOOKSTRANSCRIPTSOLD FORUMSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICY

BOOK FORUMS FOR ALL BOOKS WE HAVE DISCUSSED
Oliver Twist - by Charles DickensSense and Goodness Without God - by Richard CarrierFrankenstein - by Mary ShelleyThe Big Questions - by Simon BlackburnScience Was Born of Christianity - by Stacy TrasancosThe Happiness Hypothesis - by Jonathan HaidtA Game of Thrones - by George R. R. MartinTempesta's Dream - by Vincent LoCocoWhy Nations Fail - by Daron Acemoglu and James RobinsonThe Drowning Girl - Caitlin R. KiernanThe Consolations of the Forest - by Sylvain TessonThe Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion: The Mormons - by David FitzgeraldA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - by James JoyceThe Divine Comedy - by Dante AlighieriThe Magic of Reality - by Richard DawkinsDubliners - by James JoyceMy Name Is Red - by Orhan PamukThe World Until Yesterday - by Jared DiamondThe Man Who Was Thursday - by by G. K. ChestertonThe Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven PinkerLord Jim by Joseph ConradThe Hobbit by J. R. R. TolkienThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsAtlas Shrugged by Ayn RandThinking, Fast and Slow - by Daniel KahnemanThe Righteous Mind - by Jonathan HaidtWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max BrooksMoby Dick: or, the Whale by Herman MelvilleA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer EganLost Memory of Skin: A Novel by Russell BanksThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. KuhnHobbes: Leviathan by Thomas HobbesThe House of the Spirits - by Isabel AllendeArguably: Essays by Christopher HitchensThe Falls: A Novel (P.S.) by Joyce Carol OatesChrist in Egypt by D.M. MurdockThe Glass Bead Game: A Novel by Hermann HesseA Devil's Chaplain by Richard DawkinsThe Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph CampbellThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Moral Landscape by Sam HarrisThe Decameron by Giovanni BoccaccioThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Grand Design by Stephen HawkingThe Evolution of God by Robert WrightThe Tin Drum by Gunter GrassGood Omens by Neil GaimanPredictably Irrational by Dan ArielyThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki MurakamiALONE: Orphaned on the Ocean by Richard Logan & Tere Duperrault FassbenderDon Quixote by Miguel De CervantesMusicophilia by Oliver SacksDiary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai GogolThe Passion of the Western Mind by Richard TarnasThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOur Amazon.com SalesMassimo Pigliucci Rationally SpeakingOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism BooksFACTS Book Selections

cron
Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2014. All rights reserved.
Website developed by MidnightCoder.ca
Display Pagerank