Thoreau Where I Lived And What I Lived For Essay

The only current events that matter to the transcendent mind are itself and its place in the cosmos.One of the many delightful pursuits in which Thoreau is able to indulge, having renounced a big job and a big mortgage, is reading.

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He gives an almost mystical importance to the printed word.

The grandeur of oratory does not impress him as much as the achievements of a written book.

Thoreau’s point in all this divine talk is not to inflate his own personality to godlike heights but rather to insist on everyone’s divine ability to create a world.

Our capacity to choose reality is evident in his metaphor of the “Realometer,” a spin-off of the Nilometer, a device used to measure the depth of the river Nile. .” And the mere fact that Thoreau imagines that one can choose to call one thing reality and another thing not provides the spiritual freedom that was central to Emerson’s Transcendentalist thought.

He has grand claims for the benefits of reading, which he compares, following ancient Egyptian or Hindu philosophers, to “raising the veil from the statue of divinity.” Whether or not Thoreau is ironic in such monumental reflections about books is open to debate, but it is certain that reading is one of his chief pastimes in the solitude of the woods, especially after the main construction work is done.

During the busy days of homebuilding, he says he kept Homer’s Iliad on his table throughout the summer, but only glanced at it now and then.

Emersonian self-reliance is not just a matter of supporting oneself financially (as many people believe) but a much loftier doctrine about the active role that every soul plays in its experience of reality.

Reality for Emerson was not a set of objective facts in which we are plunked down, but rather an emanation of our minds and souls that create the world around ourselves every day.

Thoreau urges us to wade through the muck that constitutes our everyday lives until we come to a firm place “which we can call Reality, and say, This is.” The stamp of existence we give to our vision of reality—“This is”—evokes God’s simple language in the creation story of Genesis: “Let there be. When we create and claim this reality, all the other “news” of the world shrinks immediately to insignificance, as Thoreau illustrates in his mocking parody of newspapers reporting a cow run over by the Western Railway.

He opines that the last important bit of news to come out of England was about the revolution of , almost two centuries earlier.


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