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Thoreau still speaks to buried teen in all of us
Kennebec Journal ^ | 5/6/12 | Michael T. Dolan

Posted on 05/06/2012 8:36:45 AM PDT by Borges

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1 posted on 05/06/2012 8:36:52 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges

Thoreau was the first hippy of America. Like many hippies, he never grew up. His legacy is an anti-Christian environmentalism, which has been slowly undermining America for the last 40 years.


2 posted on 05/06/2012 8:44:53 AM PDT by Olympiad Fisherman
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To: Borges
Thoreau always struck me as a grown adolescent with the common sense of a garden gnome.

Daniel Boone was naturalists that understood and appreciated nature. Thoreau was like a 10-year-old camping in the back yard, who discovers an earth worm and thinks they have just made a scientific discovery.

Only people as sheltered and naive as Thoreau find his epiphanies noteworthy.

3 posted on 05/06/2012 8:46:47 AM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: Borges

It was a good novel worth reading several times over a lifetime. If he started his 2 year experiment at age 27 he had no desire for sex. That may be where we all fail. He had no desire to procreate.


4 posted on 05/06/2012 8:46:50 AM PDT by DIRTYSECRET
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To: Olympiad Fisherman

Don’t blame him for what’s been done with his legacy. He was not anti-industry at all and would not tolerate today’s Environmental wackos.


5 posted on 05/06/2012 8:54:08 AM PDT by Borges
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To: SampleMan

Have you read Walden? Thoreau had a great sense of humor about what he was doing and didn’t try to imbue it with any false grandeur. He was much smarter than all the people who have (mis)read him over the years.


6 posted on 05/06/2012 8:57:23 AM PDT by Borges
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To: SampleMan
Only people as sheltered and naive as Thoreau find his epiphanies noteworthy.

I was going to make a joke about the Walden Pond exercise being a step up from making a fort of his mother's kitchen table, but you really put truth to words.

7 posted on 05/06/2012 9:01:33 AM PDT by Brass Lamp
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To: Borges

Please....There were millions of people in our country doing the same thing.


8 posted on 05/06/2012 9:01:56 AM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: Sacajaweau

But none described it as beautifully or with as much wit.


9 posted on 05/06/2012 9:05:36 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges

I have no idea what teens this author is talking about, most teens today are brainwashed and conform to the liberalism they are taught.


10 posted on 05/06/2012 9:06:00 AM PDT by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
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To: Borges

I don’t think he would find much in common with modern greenies at all.

I personally understand his awe at nature. I’ve lived every day of my life with it and I still find myself awestruck by something in nature every single day.


11 posted on 05/06/2012 9:11:30 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: Borges

“I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up.”


12 posted on 05/06/2012 9:13:12 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Do I really need a sarcasm tag? Seriously? You're that dense?)
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To: Olympiad Fisherman

Thoreau was largely a dumbass. I could never understand what people saw in his “philosophy” which was little more than warmed over 19th century romanticism.


13 posted on 05/06/2012 9:14:12 AM PDT by vladimir998
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To: Borges

Couldn’t stand him when I was a teen. Can’t stand him now.


14 posted on 05/06/2012 9:14:31 AM PDT by bgill
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To: Borges

He was one of the first counter-culture environmental eccentrics in America. Environmental historian Donald Worster summarized his personal character very well, “Henry Thoreau was not a respectable gentleman in the eyes of his neighbors, in part because New England had no tolerance for the idleness implied by unemployment, and in part because Thoreau had no regard for affluence or the trappings of respectability.” Thoreau even spent a night in the Concord jail for refusing to pay taxes to support the war against Mexico. Thoreau also hated what the Puritans did with their industry to the landscape of New England, and came up with a goofy so-called ecological scientific empiricism called “nature looking into nature” which reduces man to a mere animal. In reality, what he was espousing was a environmental existentialism, a ‘new’ philosophy of man and nature that was essentially reverting back to paganism. Thoreau is at the very heart of what is wrong with America today. He was the first anti-hero of America.


15 posted on 05/06/2012 9:15:20 AM PDT by Olympiad Fisherman
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To: Borges
Thoreau created his own little world with disregard for the duties and obligations that one has to society in general. Suppose everyone did it.

I prefer the reality of farmers helping each other, raising their families, establishing their local governments, and preparing the way for the future.

16 posted on 05/06/2012 9:18:56 AM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: Olympiad Fisherman

There were a lot of eccentrics of various stripes back then. Civil disobedience is an American tradition (that Thoreau codified). There is nothing wrong with it. Have you actually read Walden? Thoreau speaks admiringly of a train heard nearby. He’s no more to blame for contemporary Environmentalism than Nietzsche is for contemporary nihilism.


17 posted on 05/06/2012 9:27:38 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges
Thanks for this post.

Everyday something for the mind on FR. Now I have to go up to the attic and root out "Walden Pond". It is a paper back. Though very happy with the comfort of Edison's inventions of light and warmth (and my Mini-Van). I did like Thoreau.

His little accounts still stick in my mind. How the small creatures survive at Walden. Something else though. The English veteran of Waterloo, A Colonel Quoyle (I think). Found dead in his cottage and a pack of playing cards littered on the floor. The chickens pecking around and "awaiting a fox". Time had caught up with him, surviving wars.

One more. The great steam engine at a halt, like Boanerges, stilled by human hand. Patiently waiting for a command. Now I have to get his last work on his travels which may have been partly in Canada.

America lucky to have a Thoreau.

18 posted on 05/06/2012 9:30:20 AM PDT by Peter Libra
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To: Borges

We are all “living in nature.”

Beavers build dams. Wolves have lairs. Herd animals have the herd. Etc.

When we build nuclear power plants, install automatic dishwashers, and truck in palettes of clothing, we are living in nature. That is our nature. It is as natural to the human race as the aerie is to the eagle.


19 posted on 05/06/2012 9:37:49 AM PDT by Persevero (Homeschooling for Excellence since 1992)
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To: Olympiad Fisherman
Thoreau was the first hippy of America. Like many hippies, he never grew up. His legacy is an anti-Christian environmentalism, which has been slowly undermining America for the last 40 years.

Very true. At the same time, Emerson and Thoreau were original, and were correct in identifying the American virtues of self-reliance and individual ownership with fidelity to the truth and moral responsibility. Many of the entrepreneurs of the 19th and early 20th centuries, who were not hippies, but very self-disciplined men, quoted them frequently. Thoreau can be quite annoying and is justly parodied—a subsidized romantic like all hippies—but he was a good observer.

What's especially hilarious is that eccentrics keep reinventing human cultural movements. We who come after them assume the one we've heard of was the first—even if the original guy knew perfectly well what his precedent was.

French Enlightenment types like Rousseau blazed Thoreau's intellectual wilderness a century earlier, asserting that the natural (primitive) man is the real one—implying that civilized man is an intruder, not an authentic participant, in the world. The contrast between the hurly-burly of city life vs. the reverence that comes over us when we take a vacation at the sea, or take some time off to appreciate the farm or forest, is a staple of ancient Roman writing. Thoreau surely read these earlier writings.

The Cathars (Albigensians) who rebelled against Catholic teaching in France and Italy in the early Middle Ages were greenies in almost every sense. "Cathar" means "pure one." They believed man was bad and nature good. They believed in socialism, and rule by an elite who alone knew the truth. They said meat-eating was bad, and vegetarianism was the highest state. Marriage was bad, they said, and only adultery was good. These were also the views of the Manichees of St. Augustine's time, nearly a millennium earlier.

We can't make this s#$% up, in a sense, since some other idiot did, centuries before us.

20 posted on 05/06/2012 9:39:56 AM PDT by SamuraiScot
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To: Borges

Yes, I read Walden. And I’ll never get that time back. The mind of a navel gazing rich boy is best left unexplored.

Thoreau a genius? Please.


21 posted on 05/06/2012 10:39:55 AM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: Borges
Thoreau had a great sense of humor about what he was doing and didn’t try to imbue it with any false grandeur.

Taking time out of life to write a book about the wonders of living in a cabin, is about as imbued with false grandeur as one can get.

Had Thoreau taken on adult responsibilities, his incites would have been far more impactful. But then he would have realized that most everyone already understood those incites, making a book unnecessary.

It is most interesting that Thoreau had his naturalist epiphanies, while most of America still earned a living working under the sun on farms all day.

22 posted on 05/06/2012 10:46:26 AM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: Borges
Civil disobedience is an American tradition (that Thoreau codified). There is nothing wrong with it

All depends on what you're being disobedient about.

I'm not sure Thoreau causes were noble.

23 posted on 05/06/2012 11:35:22 AM PDT by what's up
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To: SampleMan

You didn’t find it funny at all? It’s filled with jokes. Thoreau was a literary genius every step of the way - just reading his prose is a delight.


24 posted on 05/06/2012 11:36:00 AM PDT by Borges
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To: what's up

The point is that you don’t have to agree with his cause. I didn’t agree with Muhammad Ali’s cause (refusing to be drafted) but it was still deserving of respect.


25 posted on 05/06/2012 11:39:17 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges
So you think you should respect all views all the time?
26 posted on 05/06/2012 11:41:13 AM PDT by what's up
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To: Borges

Sometimes I’m too put off by the premise to enjoy the style.

Very smart and witty folk can still be horribly self-absorbed and naive.


27 posted on 05/06/2012 11:42:19 AM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: what's up

Of course not. These are cases where the cause in question is entirely personal.


28 posted on 05/06/2012 11:45:12 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges
These are cases where the cause in question is entirely personal.

Not sure what you mean by that. When Thoreau go published his cause ceased to be personal.

29 posted on 05/06/2012 11:47:11 AM PDT by what's up
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To: Borges
Although I enjoy Thoreau's writings, I've never truly viewed him as going 'to the woods.' He was on the outskirts of Concord, able to stroll into town when he wanted to do so.

In 1846, Thoreau visited Katahdin in Maine. True wilderness and woods. He didn't view it in the same light as his little cabin in the sunshine outside of Concord. He called it "grim and wild," "savage and dreary," fit only for "men nearer of kin to the rocks and wild animals than we."

Thoreau biographers Geral T. Blanchard and Roderick Nash say Thoreau was nearly hysterical from his experience with true wilderness.

Methinks I take pre-teen Scouts to places that would unnerve that man of the wilderness, Henry David Thoreau.

30 posted on 05/06/2012 11:47:53 AM PDT by Scoutmaster (You knew the job was dangerous when you took it)
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To: SampleMan

Thoreau wasn’t self absorbed. He’s quite self deprecating. You’re confusing him with his environmentalist descendants.


31 posted on 05/06/2012 11:48:37 AM PDT by Borges
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To: what's up

Thoreau’s short essay was published in 1849 and understood to refer to opposing slavery. It was only after his death that it started to be reprinted and quoted for just about every cause you could think of.


32 posted on 05/06/2012 11:52:48 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges

If there is a teenager still buried in me, that wasn’t
killed by Vietnam, failed marriage, drugs, alcohol, or
too many years of democrat domination, he better
get the hell out while he still can.


33 posted on 05/06/2012 11:54:25 AM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: Scoutmaster

In Walden, Thoreau makes very clear that ‘civilization’ is nearby. He made no claims about living in the wilderness.


34 posted on 05/06/2012 11:54:37 AM PDT by Borges
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To: SampleMan

He didn’t make any grandiose claims for it nor did he claim that everyone should do it. It was a personal recollection that has been philosophically and ideologically magnified after his death.


35 posted on 05/06/2012 11:58:40 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges
Thoreau wrote for publication. (Walden in 1854). He also gave lectures.

He was quite influential in the transcendental community and was not just an isolated, solitary figure.

36 posted on 05/06/2012 12:13:47 PM PDT by what's up
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To: what's up

The point is that his cause was not unjust and the philosophical precepts attributed to him are mostly false. I didn’t know you’re taking issue with the entire American transcendental movement. Do you also dislike Emerson, Margaret Fuller and Bronson Alcott? Hawthorne was also tangentially involved.


37 posted on 05/06/2012 12:25:56 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Peter Libra
I live not too far from Concord, MA and get a kick out of all the trendy yuppies that flock to Walden Pond to "experience" the outdoors as Thoreau once did. Every weekend when the weather is nice, the Walden Pond parking lots overflow with Volvos and Volkswagons and the yuppies come climbing out of them in their Abercrombie & Fitch clothing, pulling their spanking new stylish-looking backpacks and hiking shoes out of the trunks that they just purchased at North Face or L.L. Beans.

After making much fuss over adjusting and re-adjusting their packs, they grab their water bottles and embark on their mile and a half "hike", along with thousands of others, on the well-worn stone-dust trails surrounding the "replica" of Thoreau's one-room cabin. Then it's back to the cars to dump the still brand-new backpacks (destined for eBay) and head to the various gift shops and bookstores where they spend hundreds of dollars on knick-knacks to show their friends back home that yes, they made the obligatory pilgrimage to Walden Pond. Then they slap the $6.95 Walden Pond decal on the back of their vehicles, in between OBX (Outer Banks) and MV (Martha's Vineyard), and head back to their city condos and brownstones where they cap off the day with a meal in the North End or maybe over in Cambridge.

Personally, I think Thoreau would be horrified to see the way his pond has been turned into a yuppified ticky-tacky tourist trap.

Now if you want to have a real "Thoreau" experience in the Concord/Carlisle area, there are dozens of great trails in this area that Thoreau walked that are all but forgotten about. One of my favorites is the 10-rod trail that runs from just off Route 4 in Carlisle to the Harvard-owned Estabrook Woods in Concord. I take my dog walking there all the time and I hardly see anybody out there because it's not "touristy" and there is real hiking involved.

38 posted on 05/06/2012 12:26:31 PM PDT by SamAdams76 (I am 4 days away from outliving Phil Hartman)
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To: SamAdams76

Bravo! Worthy of Steyn or O’Rourke.


39 posted on 05/06/2012 12:29:23 PM PDT by Publius
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To: SamAdams76

Very well said.


40 posted on 05/06/2012 12:31:05 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges
The point is that his cause was not unjust

The point is that you implied that an individual should not be disrespected for their personal choice.

However, Thoreau was a public figure and influential so according to your standard one should therefore be allowed to view him negatively (which I do).

41 posted on 05/06/2012 12:32:23 PM PDT by what's up
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To: Borges
Thoreau wasn’t self absorbed. He’s quite self deprecating. You’re confusing him with his environmentalist descendants.

OK, tell me what it was that he was learning from living at Walden Pond, that the average mid 1800's farmer, hunter, or settler wasn't fully aware of.

Perhaps I am being too rough on the man, when it the legend that escapes me.

42 posted on 05/06/2012 12:32:31 PM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: what's up

Thoreau took the consequences of his choices (which were not injurious to anyone). There is no reason to view him negatively unless you’re projecting on him how his followers have acted after his death. It’s the Nietzsche effect...an honorable man who’s had the misfortune of dim followers.


43 posted on 05/06/2012 12:37:51 PM PDT by Borges
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To: SampleMan

Thoreau’s contribution was a contemplative and (funny) brand of nature writing. He wasn’t trying to ‘teach’ anyone anything.


44 posted on 05/06/2012 12:40:38 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges

I have not read every word of Walden Pond, but yes, 25 years ago at the Evergreen State College, we read Walden Pond and you are the first person that I have ever heard suggest that modern environmentalism has little or no connection to Thoreau. Thoreau is the absolte poster boy of environmentalism.


45 posted on 05/06/2012 12:47:07 PM PDT by Olympiad Fisherman
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To: Borges
There is no reason to view him negatively

Frankly, I've got no reason to view him positively.

46 posted on 05/06/2012 12:48:13 PM PDT by what's up
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To: Olympiad Fisherman

You can’t control what people say about your after your death. Mary Wollstonecraft is the poster girl of the Feminist movement. Do you think she would find anything in common with the likes of Andrea Dworkin? For a long time they thought Nietzsche was a proto-Nazi...


47 posted on 05/06/2012 12:49:22 PM PDT by Borges
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To: SampleMan
OK, tell me what it was that he was learning from living at Walden Pond, that the average mid 1800's farmer, hunter, or settler wasn't fully aware of.

You might be surprised.

A lot of our conception of pioneers comes from our reading romantic naturalism into people who could be quite grim and prosaic.

We take it for granted that people who were just trying to survive had all of the aesthetic emotions that we have thanks to Thoreau and writers like him.

48 posted on 05/06/2012 12:51:59 PM PDT by x
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To: what's up

How about the fact that he was a great writer?


49 posted on 05/06/2012 12:52:31 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges

While many modern environmentalists paint Thoreau as an anti-government libertarian free spirit, it must be pointed out that the American government of his day was very limited in its powers. It also openly espoused individual liberty and Manifest Destiny. In other words, to be a rebel against the limited constitutional powers of the American government suggests that Thoreau was not the libertarian or free individualist that many often make him out to be. He was protesting/rebelling against a limited government based on liberty and Judeo-Christian values.


50 posted on 05/06/2012 12:52:36 PM PDT by Olympiad Fisherman
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