Sunday, July 16, 2017

Thoreau at 200: A Few Days Late

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Environmental and Science Education
Edward Hessler

"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify."

"Live deep and suck out all the marrow of life."

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."

"In wildness is the preservation of the world."

"I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees."

"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."

"We are born as innocents. We are polluted by advice."

Happy (belated) Birthday Henry David Thoreau, of whom the late Edward Abbey that desert odd man out (and deeply in) once described as that "arrogant, insolent village crank." To put this in some perspective Abbey closed the essay in which this is found these words "I look for his name in the water, his face in the airy foam. He must be here. Wherever there are deer and hawks, wher­ever there is liberty and danger, wherever there is wilderness, wherever there is a living river, Henry Thoreau will find his eternal home."

You can (and should) read some of Abbey's ~40 page essay Down the River with Henry Thoreau thanks to the Internet. The essay is found in the wonderful book, Down the River. Eric Pinder who has taught Thoreau, reminded me that in this essay, Abbey considers a marriage, one "between two literary oddballs," Thoreau and Emily Dickinson.

Emily (raising her pen): Henry you haven't taken out the garbage.
Henry (raising his flute): Take it your yourself. 

I'd forgotten that and laughed again upon re-reading it.

The man could write with provocative grace and enormous humor.

Thoreau maybe not be so much for folks under 30 according to Pinder whose students rated Abbey #1 and rated Thoreau whatever the number is worst.

Thoreau was an early reader of Charles Darwin's The Origin of the Species and the first to publish a hypothesis about forest vegetataion change in the northeast United States known as succession. He was also a fine land surveyor (including Walden Pond which was until he did his work was considered without a bottom).

I recommend one fairly short essay from National Public Radio, reported about a week ago. There are comments on and links to two brand-spankin' new biographies, a bicentenary exhibition at the Morgan Library and to some of his journals.

Henry David Thoreau, born July 12, 2017, Concord, Massachusetts, died (of tuberculosis) May 6, 1862.

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