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How do Thoreau's words affect you personally? 
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Post How do Thoreau's words affect you personally?
I thought it would be a good idea to take up Wild City/Carly's question in a separate thread, as a way of summing up. Who wants to go first?
DWill



Sat Sep 06, 2008 5:59 pm
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Walden has made me aware of how often I misread. Here's an example:

Quote:
1.87 Thus I could avoid all trade and barter, so far as my food was concerned, and having a shelter already, it would only remain to get clothing and fuel. The pantaloons which I now wear were woven in a farmer's family -- thank Heaven there is so much virtue still in man; for I think the fall from the farmer to the operative as great and memorable as that from the man to the farmer; -- and in a new country, fuel is an encumbrance.


virtue is from the Latin vir and means "of a man" as are "pantaloons." I saw this wordplay in a note yesterday, and I had entirely overlooked it. To read Walden fully requires an unusual degree of focus.

Tom



Sat Sep 06, 2008 7:27 pm
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Well, I guess I can't really say that wondering about the [s]French[/s] Latin word for pantaloons, isn't a 'personal' reflection on the story.

But I'd like to see this thread as a place for people to post how they, themselves, as individual readers, feel about what Thoreau did - how he came to write this journal . . . maybe 'somebody' ought to put some 'questions' in here . . .

1) Have you, yourself, ever tried to live in this way, for any length of time? I don't mean during summer holidays when your family has rented a cottage, complete with the ole backhouse . . . have you ever removed yourself from society and tried to live without the 'extras'? If so, for how long, and under what circumstances?

You might feel embarassed if you have, at one time or another, been 'homeless', or deliberately thrown your hands in the air and said 'I'm gonna' go live in the woods for a while - I'm sick of all this yadda' yadda' with technology!'

2) Does Thoreau's journal put the 'wanderlust' in you? Does it make you want to 'hit the road', even for as much as a couple of weeks?

3) Do you think you could survive in this way, and for how long?

4) What would you miss most? Electricity? Packaged foods? Your laptop?

Anybody want to add any questions.



Last edited by WildCityWoman on Mon Sep 08, 2008 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Sep 07, 2008 12:34 pm
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Carly, I think you are imagining that Thoreau was some kind of early hippie dropout. He went to Walden for a period of concentrated effort, and he produced works of lasting value. Note Thoreau's shopping list at 1.73 (Don't be fooled by the prices. When a man worked for a dollar a day, $1.73 represents about 10 gallons of Molasses) and his list of household goods (1.89). This isn't homelessness, camping out, bumming, or commune creation. Have I withdrawn from society for a period of concentrated effort? Sure, and I may do it again. Anyone who tried to do anything serious may need to do so.

I rather enjoy that you interpret everything so differently from me.

Tom



Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:26 pm
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Well, it's like I said, Tom, if everybody saw things exactly the same way, 'twould be a pretty dull discussion here.

:laugh:



Sun Sep 07, 2008 6:15 pm
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WildCityWoman wrote:
Well, it's like I said, Tom, if everybody saw things exactly the same way, 'twould be a pretty dull discussion here.


'Tis true, and I'd like to know about your life experiences whether or not I think Thoreau led you to them.

Tom



Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:09 pm
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How does Thoreau (or Thoreau's words) affect me personally? Here are the five I come up with right now:
1. I always like to start with the artistry of his prose and the magnificent descriptions. To me, this is the best thing about Walden and the most important reason that it has endured as a classic book.
2. He tells us that if we have within ourselves a leading or prompting that would take us in a direction different from that of our peers, we need to not ignore it but nurture it. If we are not so led, we at least need to respect, value, and encourage that quality in others. This helps me not to worry so much about staying in step or about being seen as eccentric.
3. I think that in fitting ourselves to nature, as he did, we become more fully human. This is not different from becoming the animal we are. We are still bent on fitting nature to us.
4. He showed us how material things get in the way of our becoming the humans and animals we should be. While I have never duplicated his experiment in living, his example does make me see the futility and waste of working for a superabundance. (Though in his eyes I would have a superabundance.) "A man is rich in proportion to the things which he can do without."
5. He let his whole being loose in his identification with nature. He didn't merely observe nature as a scientist would, but joined his own feeling to feeling he felt was also present in it. He claimed to be not a naturalist but a transcendentalist. (Something else admirable and inspiring about him--not anything I claim to be able to do.)
DWill



Sun Sep 07, 2008 10:58 pm
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Thomas Hood wrote:
WildCityWoman wrote:
Well, it's like I said, Tom, if everybody saw things exactly the same way, 'twould be a pretty dull discussion here.


'Tis true, and I'd like to know about your life experiences whether or not I think Thoreau led you to them.

Tom


Well, I've never been led by Thoreau, but I've had experiences.

I learned how to 'make do' at times in my life. When the kids were young, and there wasn't much money coming in (or being provided to me, at any rate), I experimented with cooking.

That link I gave about the 'catsup' soup, isn't something I actually tried then, but I did make sauces out of other things when I didn't have the proper ingredients.

One of my friends once said of me - she can work up a spaghetti sauce from a half cup of catsup - she was exaggerating, but I did try it. Just added chopped vegetables I had, sometimes lettuce if I had a garden going.

I used leftover soup for gravy . . . stuff like that.

Sometimes I wanted to make little improvements to our home and couldn't get enough money together for paints, wallpapers, etc. Well, I wasn't above taking a colourful sheet and tacking it up on a ceiling (draping) to make it look better.

If somebody discarded something that was clean and useful, I took it . . . nothing like a bamboo blind . . . that makes a good cover for a cruddy looking wall.

I once tried to cover our bedroom ceiling with egg cartons, but couldn't reach the ceiling even with the ladder . . . I got as far as saving enough egg cartons to make a start on it though.

That trick with the dried soup mix that I planted this summer . . . I've used dried peas or beans to make a lousy looking fence look better.



Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:05 am
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This is probably why I enjoy this book so much - Thoreau's thoughts and ideas are things I'd probably come up with myself. He just says it better.



Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:06 am
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DWill wrote:
How does Thoreau (or Thoreau's words) affect me personally? Here are the five I come up with right now:

1. I always like to start with the artistry of his prose and the magnificent descriptions. To me, this is the best thing about Walden and the most important reason that it has endured as a classic book.

Are you inspired in your own writing (whatever kind of writing you do) by this work? Do his words and the way he puts them together inspire poems in you? Articles . . . essays? Maybe even some fiction/

2. He tells us that if we have within ourselves a leading or prompting that would take us in a direction different from that of our peers, we need to not ignore it but nurture it. If we are not so led, we at least need to respect, value, and encourage that quality in others. This helps me not to worry so much about staying in step or about being seen as eccentric.

That's good, Will - I think people are often shy of presenting their art, or ideas for fear people might think them as 'wierd', or see them as 'eccentric'.

If you worried about it, I'm glad Thoreau's helped you in this.


3. I think that in fitting ourselves to nature, as he did, we become more fully human. This is not different from becoming the animal we are. We are still bent on fitting nature to us.

And do you 'fit yourself to nature' . . . do you follow your instincts? Sometimes when we have back pain, we tend to want to sit in a way that's different, but more comfortable . . . that, to me, would be following your instinct.

Sometimes, we throw something into a stew pot - peanut butter, banana or some other item we think might give the meal just that little bit of a lift . . . if it tastes good, why not?


4. He showed us how material things get in the way of our becoming the humans and animals we should be. While I have never duplicated his experiment in living, his example does make me see the futility and waste of working for a superabundance. (Though in his eyes I would have a superabundance.) "A man is rich in proportion to the things which he can do without."

I like that particular line . . . he would probably agree with an old saying I know - skid row is a state of mind.

5. He let his whole being loose in his identification with nature. He didn't merely observe nature as a scientist would, but joined his own feeling to feeling he felt was also present in it. He claimed to be not a naturalist but a transcendentalist. (Something else admirable and inspiring about him--not anything I claim to be able to do.)
DWill


I don't think I could do it to the extent he did - even though he was within walking distance of other people's homes, he was still on his own and vulnerable.

I'm the kind that's afraid of bears, things that go bump in the night, manhole covers that might come loose and cause me to fall in - ha ha!



Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:17 am
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DWill wrote:
How does Thoreau (or Thoreau's words) affect me personally? Here are the five I come up with right now:

1. I always like to start with the artistry of his prose and the magnificent descriptions. To me, this is the best thing about Walden and the most important reason that it has endured as a classic book.

Are you inspired in your own writing (whatever kind of writing you do) by this work? Do his words and the way he puts them together inspire poems in you? Articles . . . essays? Maybe even some fiction/

2. He tells us that if we have within ourselves a leading or prompting that would take us in a direction different from that of our peers, we need to not ignore it but nurture it. If we are not so led, we at least need to respect, value, and encourage that quality in others. This helps me not to worry so much about staying in step or about being seen as eccentric.

That's good, Will - I think people are often shy of presenting their art, or ideas for fear people might think them as 'wierd', or see them as 'eccentric'.

If you worried about it, I'm glad Thoreau's helped you in this.


3. I think that in fitting ourselves to nature, as he did, we become more fully human. This is not different from becoming the animal we are. We are still bent on fitting nature to us.

And do you 'fit yourself to nature' . . . do you follow your instincts? Sometimes when we have back pain, we tend to want to sit in a way that's different, but more comfortable . . . that, to me, would be following your instinct.

Sometimes, we throw something into a stew pot - peanut butter, banana or some other item we think might give the meal just that little bit of a lift . . . if it tastes good, why not?


4. He showed us how material things get in the way of our becoming the humans and animals we should be. While I have never duplicated his experiment in living, his example does make me see the futility and waste of working for a superabundance. (Though in his eyes I would have a superabundance.) "A man is rich in proportion to the things which he can do without."

I like that particular line . . . he would probably agree with an old saying I know - skid row is a state of mind.

5. He let his whole being loose in his identification with nature. He didn't merely observe nature as a scientist would, but joined his own feeling to feeling he felt was also present in it. He claimed to be not a naturalist but a transcendentalist. (Something else admirable and inspiring about him--not anything I claim to be able to do.)
DWill


I don't think I could do it to the extent he did - even though he was within walking distance of other people's homes, he was still on his own and vulnerable.

I'm the kind that's afraid of bears, things that go bump in the night, manhole covers that might come loose and cause me to fall in - ha ha!



Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:22 am
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Another thing I once did - I was fishing off a dock up north and i didn't have any worms for my hook . . . I went to our cabin and got some bacon - a piece of bacon looks just like something alive and delicious (to a fish, I figured) wiggling away in the water.

I did catch a fish - it was small, so I threw it back.

But it worked.



Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:25 am
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Thoreau speaks of the 'desperate' . . . I guess it's the 'desperate' who can show us how to save money, how to use materials wisely.

My husband and I aren't doing too bad, money-wise, at this point in our lives - we're certainly not rich, or what you'd call 'well-off', but we are able to food in the fridge.

Still, we conserve . . . there's nothing like a bag of day-old donuts - they usually cost about 2 bucks at coffee shops. Some franchises aren't allowed to sell the day-olds, but when we see them, we opt for a bag, rather than buying two fresh ones. We can take them home and have some the next morning.

The owner of the building and lot where I do my gardening, doesn't like a lot of money spent - heh! heh! She just likes 'collecting it', y'know?

So I'm frugal when I buy for my gardening; I always keep a certain amount of leaves back, let them mulch into soil - I also prefer that kind of soil because it doesn't have any commercial ingredients in it - I like to cultivate what grows wild on the lot - a lot of the stuff you buy has 'weed' killer in it.
That would be the end of my wild violets!



Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:31 am
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But that doesn't really tell you how 'Thoreau's' work is affecting my thoughts. These are things I've always done to save money.

What 'Walden' is doing for me is feeding a particular fantasy I have - it's a fantasy that I could make happen - all I'd have to do, is do it.

But I'm not in a position to do it, so it will have to remain a fantasy. I still 'live' this fantasy by writing about it . . . some little stories (rarely do I complete them - sorry), involve my protagonist as an older woman - a senior - travelling around the country from place to place, living as cheaply as possible.

I gotta' get to bed - it is 2:30 am here - so I'll enlarge upon this later.

BTW . . . anybody ever read 'Pilgrim's' story? No, not 'Timothy Findley's' Pilgrim.

The one I'm thinking about is an older woman who put on a backpack and took to the road . . . actually she called herself the 'Peace Pilgrim'.

http://www.peacepilgrim.com/

Thoreau would have loved this gal!



Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:42 am
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DWill wrote
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5. He let his whole being loose in his identification with nature. He didn't merely observe nature as a scientist would, but joined his own feeling to feeling he felt was also present in it. He claimed to be not a naturalist but a transcendentalist. (Something else admirable and inspiring about him--not anything I claim to be able to do.)


Beautifully put! Karma points for you!


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