It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
-Henry David Thoreau
01742, Concord MA, paradise of rich history, lush forests, touched and untouched nature and a community as strong and complex as the cold New England winter. Concord is history, living, breathing and walking through this town you can feel the ephemeral and lasting memories and lives. In these very woods Henry David Thoreau tired to find himself, through his book his memories will live. Im not sure what kind of person Thoreau is yet, his writing presents a mixed bag of emotions, views and lessons. At the very least Thoreau is a hugely complex person who clearly has strong views on life. I was not too overwhelmed by the writing, I think reading Moby Dick might have helped, but it was hard to read. This being said it cannot be denied that Thoreau is a master of writing the English language, some of his sentences are complex yet understandable, unique yet relatable and all around dazzling. On a couple of sentences he goes into such detail that the reader can’t help but to be transported into his shoes and views. These sentences make for extremely quotable quotes, quotes that can give you the upper hand in any intellectual conversation. These quotes soul propose isn’t just to embarrass anyone with big words from a long dead genius but provide a valuable sight into how HDT understood the world around him.
“The mass of men live lives of quite desperation”
Thoreau clearly believes that live should be lived with purpose. He thinks that anything less than a total devotion to what your doing makes it a waste of time. When he was a teacher he made sure that his students were engaged. He goes as far to say not to read Walden if you do not truly want to. He despised students or anyone being forced to live a certain way. By desperation he means that men who are not thinking themselves, not acting for themselves will waste away in a unhappy life. He was so afraid or against living a life of desperation that he excused himself from normal life for two years. To be totally free was the definition of a good and happy life for HDT. What is wisdom? To live a happy life do you have to be wise?
“It is a characteristic of of wisdom not to do desperate things”
Thoreau dedicated a lot of his life to gathering and sharing wisdom. This definition of wisdom is quite strange though. The whole definition depends of what you define as desperation. I think Thoreau’s definition of desperation is the effect of not acting on your own or with your own personal license. Following this theory this means that Thoreau could look at the smartest person in the world. Someone who seemingly had all the trapping of extravagant wisdom. But if that person was not doing it for a reason important to him he would not be wise. In the other words the absence of desperation leads to a small amount of wisdom. I’m not sure if I agree with this. Honestly a lot of Walden so far has been contradictory to my beliefs about what he is talking about.
Walden is a book with unflinching views from a seemingly unflinching man. I think that that’s the point of the book though. As far as I can tell everything Walden believes he truly, truly believes. He wants the reader to have to think about whether they believe or not. He does not give an easy out but makes the book hard enough to read to force them to really think about how they feel about the things he’s talking about. If he was a lesser writer it wouldn’t work but, because of his undeniably good writing he makes it work.