Monday, 27 August 2007

Catching up...

I haven't posted here for a week as I was away on a short holiday - my first as a solo traveller. Quite an interesting experience and not totally hideous - I even enjoyed it at times. I came back with a tower of books to get through - so many books, so little time...

As I wrote about in a previous post http://theviewfromthepond.blogspot.com/2007/08/death-and-maiden.html I discovered a kindred spirit in Henry Thoreau while browsing the internet. Inspired by the quote that I found from him I had been searching for a copy of Walden without luck here at the pond. I was delighted, therefore, to find a copy on my hols.


Being busy visiting gardens and shopping and trying not to look conspicuous eating dinner by myself, I haven't read much of it yet but here are a couple of extracts that appealed to me:

"Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? We are determined to be starved before we are hungry. Men say that a stitch in time saves nine so they take a thousand stitches today to save nine tomorrow. As for work, we haven't any of consequence. We have the St Vitus' dance and cannot possibly keep our heads still...Hardly a man takes a half hour's nap after dinner, but when he wakes he holds up his head and asks 'What's the news?' as if the rest of mankind had stood his sentinels. Some give directions to be waked every half hour, doubtless for no other purpose; and then, to pay for it, they tell what they have dreamed. After a night's sleep, the news is as indispensable as the breakfast. 'Pray tell me what has happened to a man anywhere on this globe' - and he reads it over his coffee and rolls, that a man has had his eyes gouged out this morning on the Wachito River; never dreaming the while that he lives in the dark unfathomed mammoth cave of this world and has but the rudiment of an eye himself."


I can scarcely believe that Thoreau was writing 150 years ago. Plus ca change... What would he have made of 24 hour news and reality television?


Here's another...I really love this man!
"Men think that it is essential that the Nation have commerce, and export ice, and talk through a telegraph, and ride thirty miles an hour, without a doubt, whether they do or not; but whether we should live like baboons or like men, is a little uncertain. If we do not get out sleepers and forge rails, and devote days and nights to the work, but go to tinkering upon our lives to improve them, who will build the railroads? And if railroads are not built, how shall we get to heaven in season? But if we stay at home and mind our business, who will want railroads? We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us." Wonderful stuff!



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