There is a coarse and boisterous money-making fellow in the outskirts of our town, who is going to build a bank-wall under the hill along the edge of his meadow. The powers have put this into his head to keep him out of mischief, and he wishes me to spend three weeks digging there with him. The result will be that he will perhaps get some more money to board, and leave for his heirs to spend foolishly. If I do this, most will commend me as an industrious and hard-working man; but if I choose to devote myself to certain labors which yield more real profit, though but little money, they may be inclined to look on me as an idler. Nevertheless, as I do not need the police of meaningless labor to regulate me, and do not see anything absolutely praiseworthy in this fellow’s undertaking any more than in many an enterprise of our own or foreign governments, however amusing it may be to him or them, I prefer to finish my education at a different school.
— HD Thoreau
There are at least 30 copies of the Norton 3rd edition of Walden sitting on the shelf downstairs in the book store.
Before you come to class on Wednesday, please read this article by Chris Hedges. It’s relevant to our conversations about Thoreau and raises the question of whether or not the culture we live in would prefer that we be shallow, unreflective, and ignorant. If, as Thoreau seems to argue, being human is something we have to work at, then Hedges’ remarks are cause for concern.
We’ll be discussing “Resistance to Civil Government” by HD Thoreau on Monday. If you don’t have a copy of the book then go here for a web version. Be advised you will need a hard copy for class.
Wednesday we’ll discuss an excerpt from Walden: “Economy”.
Friday: “Where I Lived and What I Lived For” & “Reading” (from Walden).