The following is an indirect response to Kathryn Schulz’s article “Pond Scum: Henry David Thoreau’s Moral Myopia,” from The New Yorker, October 19, 2015:
“I have travelled,” wrote Henry David Thoreau in Walden, “a good deal in Concord: and everywhere, in shops, and offices, and fields, the inhabitants have appeared to me to be doing penance in a thousand remarkable ways.” This displeased Thoreau. He didn’t want to live a life of penance.
He wanted a life more meaningful than one filled with busywork at shops and pointless toil in the fields. He wanted a life, as he put it, more “deliberate.”
“There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world,” wrote Thoreau, “and yet we tolerate incredible dullness.” So, Thoreau got himself some land and built a small house out at Walden Pond. He was, as he says, “a mile from any neighbor.” What he does not mention in Walden is that he was also only a short, few miles’ walk from his mom’s house. He would go there sometimes during his time at Walden for cookies and tea. [Read more…]