Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Just Finished Walden

After hemming and hawing and trying (in vain) to read Maine Woods, on and off for the past 20 years at least (OK it may be less but it feels like the full 20) I have finally tackled Walden, the book that has been much quoted...the fantasy of leaving everything to live in the woods, to live deliberately off the land, to live in some more innocent, morning of life sort of way.

As expected most of the book was not so much about Walden Pond or the changing of the seasons or the wildlife as it was Thoreau's treatise on man, wicked man, and the life to which he had dwindled, a life led foremost by artificialities, a life that was less real and becoming steadily more unreal.

Do I have a woods to go to? And if I did, could I survive? I'm afraid of the jungles around here, the jungles peopled with the old gods of the place who retreated there when the new religions came, cleared out large swaths of land and forced people to forget the old ways. The old gods, now hostile.

So if I were to disappear into the woods, it would not be the Malaysian jungles.

I needed to write this post because I have just turned the last page of Walden and I need something to mark the occasion. Now I'm wondering whether to move on to Emerson's essays (oh you transcendentalists, you!) or Whitman's poems.

(I know what I do want to read now...I want to re-read Naomi Wolf's Treehouse, because there is a philosophy quite in keeping with what I believe in. Thoreau at times struck me as too austere and priestlike).

Decisions, decisions.

3 comments:

Nessa said...

You are always such an industrious reader.

Tudor Rose said...

I am so behind in my reading. It's quite embarrassing, actually.

Jenn said...

Nessa: I pretend to be. It's the only thing that fills up the empty hours of my useless life and gives me a way to mark the passing hours.

Rosey: No you're not!