Today I learned about Thoreau, Walden, Part 8. Chapter 3: Reading
- Immortality over mortality, timelessness over time
- Environment for learning
- Our connection to the past
- Learning dead languages
- Timeliness vs. Timelessness
- Poorly educated people
- Educational reform
What to conclude from this?
- He is a snob: Greek classics in Greek
- He reveres ancient literature.
- He thinks his shack is a great place for reading.
- He admits that he did not have time to read when he built it.
- We live in degenerate times, not heroic.
- Noble thoughts are timeless.
- Written words are superior to spoken words.
- The issue is timeliness vs. timelessness.
- Classics can be translated and have influence.
- Books are treasured wealth.
- Great poets alone understand great poets.
- College educated men do not read classics.
- People who read classics have no one to discuss them with.
- He does not read Plato.
- Books can change people.
- We need uncommon schools.
- We need noble villages.
Today I learned about Thoreau, Walden, Part 7. Chapter 2: Where I lived, and What I lived for
- Farms: he knows the price of them all.
- Commitments in life
- Walden pond: the small outdoors
- Why Walden?
What to conclude from this?
- He thinks writing a poem about someone else’s farm is better than owning a farm.
- Commitment: farm or jail; it makes no difference.
- The shack was his second home, after a tent.
- He saw Walden pond as if it was the grand outdoors.
- Morning is heroic, like Homer’s poems.
- Pursue simplicity!
- Trains ride on us.
- Don’t hurry.
- News is gossip: irrelevant.
- Discover absolute existence.
- Imitate Nature: it’s deliberate.
- He goes fishing in time.
- He was wisest on the day he was born.
Today I learned about Thoreau, Walden, Part 6. Chapter 1: Economy, pages 44-53
- His careers
What to conclude from this? (remember this is what the book is saying)
- Furniture is a burden.
- People should burn it.
- Don’t get a mat to wipe your feet.
- Don’t work too hard.
- Trade curses everything.
- He worked as a day-laborer: independence.
- When the sun goes down, the day-laborer is finished for the day.
- He could support himself by working 40 days a year.
- Maintaining oneself is a passtime.
- He was single, which he recommended.
- He dismissed philanthropy.
- Give money away wisely.
- Hymn books curse God.
Today reviewed Walden, Parts 2-4. I also had to write a 500 word essay.
Today I will write an essay on the following topic. Was Thoreau dependent on the division of labor while he was living on Walden Pond?
So what is the division of labor? It is essentially the assigning of tasks to different people in order to make things more efficient. Why does it make things more efficient? Because if everyone were to farm their own food like Thoreau suggests, then everyone would be busy growing their own food. And you wouldn’t have people to invent things, like this device you are using, or the cars which allow you to get places faster. I’m not saying growing your own food for yourself or your family is efficient, in fact it would reduce a lot of waste. I’m just saying, that it would be all you would be doing.
To go a bit deeper, I’m going to commision the help of video games. A moment for some of you to roll your eyes. I like RTS games, or real time strategy games. Most of them are based on building up an army and destroying the enemy base or something. To do this you normally place down resource gatherers or resource producers. Now let’s implement a bit of real world mechanics in there and say that your resource gatherers had to eat. How far would you go if your resource gatherers only produced resources for themselves. Say goodbye to mega-tank 3000, and say hello to farming simulator. Now maybe you aren’t trying to build up resources to destroy your enemies in real life. How about if you ran say a city. If you want some people to build cars or phones, then those people can’t be farming their own food. You’ve got to have some people make a bunch of food for the other people who in turn make a bunch of their things.
All of this which you now know, Thoreau didn’t understand. He thought that if you weren’t making your own food, you were alienating life. Now let me ask you something, is your life better by having this device, a chair to sit on, and a table to rest your arms on? It’s great isn’t it? If everyone was making their own food, no one would have time to make any of these things.
Without the division of labor Thoreau wouldn’t have a town to walk into several nights a week. He wouldn’t have seeds to buy from other people. He also wouldn’t have his cabin, which he lied about, he didn’t build it. So if you want the answer, yes Thoreau did rely heavily on the division of labor he so despised. However I doubt that Thoreau knew that in order for his mother to do his laundry, there must be the division of labor.
Today I learned about Thoreau, Part 4. Chapter 1: Economy, pages 31-44.
- Cost of his shack: $28.
- Year’s rent at Cambridge: $30.
- His farm
- It costed $14.72
- He made $23.44
- He is left with $8.71 for his time
- What was a daily wage? $1.
- How many days in a growing season? 100?
- What did he forfeit in unearned wages?
- 60 to 70 dollars
- What did he have to show for it? Food and $8.71.
- Balance sheet for a year: $25.21.
- 14 months later, he left the shack.
- The time and money invested in the shack were gone.
- He lived on a rice diet.
- He then spends pages on bread-making.
Now an excerpt from the book.
“There is a certain class of unbelievers who sometimes ask me such questions as, if I think that I can live on vegetable food alone; and to strike at the root of the matter at once—for the root is faith—I am accustomed to answer such, that I can live on board nails. If they cannot understand that, they cannot understand much that I have to say.” ~Henry David Thoreau
I couldn’t understand it, so I guess I can’t understand anything he has say.
What to conclude from this? (Basically what the book is saying)
- He says that men that build their own homes might be poets.
- Painters prefer to paint pictures of huts, because people live in huts live picturesque lives.
- Students should build colleges.
- Railroads are toys.
- The telegraph will convey boring information.
- He thought he lived profitably – no money made for a year’s work.
- He lived on vegetables and rice.
Today I learned about Thoreau, Walden, Part 3. Chapter 1: Economy, pages 15-30.
- Clothes are close to irrelevant.
- Our houses are too expensive.
What to conclude from this?
- He is contemptuous of fashion.
- He hates the factory system: profits over people!
- Caves were not so bad. They are outside.
- Living in a casket-size box would be OK.
- A savage owns his wigwam, but most people in Concord rent.
- Farmers are in debt.
- There are poor people in Concord.
- Our nice furniture does not reflect our morals.
- Nomads in the great outdoors were more free. We live in houses.
Today I learned about Thoreau, Part 2. Since the first chapter is the longest I was only required to read pages 1-15. Chapter 1: Economy
- Thoreau said he favored the simple life.
- He dismissed economic progress as irrelevant to the basics of life.
- He dismissed the lifestyle of property owners.
- He praised the life of voluntary poverty.
- He dismissed the division of labor.
- He thought the common man was working himself into the grave.
- He survived for only 26 months.