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Aristotle [BC] Nicomachean Ethics , trans. Ross , David. Oxford : Oxford University Press. Konvitz , Milton and Whicher , Stephen. New Jersey : Prentice-Hall , pp. Augustine , St. Pusey , E.

Consciousness and Culture: Emerson and Thoreau Reviewed by Joel Porte, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

Aurelius , Marcus Meditations. New York : Penguin Classics. LaRocca , D. New York : Bloomsbury. Buell , Lawrence Emerson. New York : Oxford University Press. Hodge , David J.

Joel Porte

Stanford : Stanford University Press. Emerson , Edward Waldo. Boston : Houghton-Mifflin. Whicher , Stephen et al. Gilman , W. Cambridge : Harvard University Press.

Non-Fiction

Porte , Joel. New York : The Library of America. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. Chase , Michael. It is a beautiful mean, equidistant from the hard, sour Puritan on one side and the empty negation of Rationalism on the other. It is the spirit of David and Paul. Who shall restore to us the odoriferous Sabbaths that made the earth and the humble roof a sanctity.

That piety is a refutation of every skeptical doubt. These men are a bridge to us between the unparalleled piety of the Hebrew epoch and our own. Tolerant of Quakers and Baptists, known for his charity to the poor, he put his professional career in jeopardy by trying to reconcile differences between Anglicans and Presbyterians. Like Thoreau, Bachelard makes a crucial distinction between nighttime dreams and daytime reveries. But there is a mystery in things, or in our relation to things, which can best be explored through daydreams. A world takes form in our reverie, and this world is ours.

This dreamed world teaches us the possibilities for expanding our being within our universe.

Numéros en texte intégral

It is one thing to repudiate the workaday world, as he had once done, for aesthetic purposes: to clear the ground for concentrated perception; but it is quite another to propose this regressive attitude as an overall prescription for living. I go in search of him. He sounds no nearer.

But I doubt, I doubt. They know not what they say! Or, to return to the journal: This minstrel sings in a true a heroic age. I long for wildness—a nature which I cannot put my foot through.

Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson

This was a religion to him; to us, mythical. Beneath the undeniably miscellaneous character of everything Thoreau wrote palpitates this theme. A Week, for example, has not generally made its point. I put in a little Greek now and then, partly because it sounds so much like the ocean. For someone extremely sensitive to words, language having achieved complete nobility, phonetic phenomena and the phenomena of the logos harmonize. But we should have to learn how to meditate very slowly, to experience the inner poetry of the word, the inner immensity of a word.

All important words, all the words marked for grandeur by a poet, are keys to the universe, to the dual universe of the Cosmos and the depths of the human spirit.


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I trust that in this case the loudest voice carries it. On that side some John N. But for Thoreau Christianity can scarcely compete with the voice of the Wild. The pond was a small ocean; the Atlantic, a large Walden Pond. This quasi-anacoluthic sentence, with its painfully suspended period, perfectly enacts the anxiety it expresses: the ocean appears to have no bottom.

Thoreau is faced with a crucial dilemma, for the question of a bottom is fundamental to him. The boy replied that it had. The sea Severs not only lands but also selves. Looking with the eye of faith, knowing that, though to him that knocketh it may not always be opened, yet to him that looketh long enough through a knot-hole the inside shall be visible,—for we had had some practice at looking inward,—by steadily keeping our other ball covered from the light meanwhile, putting the outward world behind us, ocean and land, and the beach,—till the pupil became enlarged and collected the rays of light that were wandering in that dark for the pupil shall be enlarged by looking; there never was so dark a night but a faithful and patient eye, however small, might at last prevail over it, —after all this, I say, things began to take shape to our vision,—if we may use this expression where there was nothing but emptiness,—and we obtained the long-wished-for insight.

Indeed, it was the wreck of all cosmical beauty there within. Turning our backs on the outward world, we thus looked through the knot-hole into the humane house, into the very bowels of mercy; and for bread we found a stone. It was literally a great cry of sea-mews outside , and a little wool. This, then, is what charity hides! So we shivered round about, not being able to get into it, ever and anon looking through the knot-hole into that night without a star, until we concluded that it was not a humane house at all, but a sea-side box, now shut up, belonging to some of the family of night or chaos.

He discovers that this uninviting hut by the sea is merely a poor imitation of a human house, for instead of light, warmth, and nourishment it contains only a cold chimney and a bit of disorder. In fact, through a kind of terrible attraction, it has been appropriated by the sea and has ceased to be a human habitation at all.

Its secrets are not human ones, but rather the elemental secrets of the hoary deep, a dark Illimitable Ocean without bound, Without dimension, where length, breadth, and highth, And time and place are lost; where eldest Night And Chaos, Ancestors of Nature, hold Eternal Anarchy. But to the extent that this cheerless habitation has simply been assimilated by the sea, it stands for the awesome bottomlessness of the Wild.

Thus this hut and the body of water it lies beside may be seen as two forms of immensity, or boundless depth, inspiring in man a sense of alienation, terror, and helplessness. What lesson, then, did Thoreau learn from the sea, what was the doctrine preached by the Reverend Poluphloisboios Thalassa? Mainly this, it seems: that a man who has gotten the Wild into his soul may stand anywhere and put, not only all America, but every place and thing behind him.

In his summation he, too, appealed to the lesson of the Wild, to the voice of the forests and sierras of the great West: In their non-human beauty and peace they stir the sub-human depths and superhuman possibilities of your own spirit. Everywhere is beauty and nowhere permanence, everywhere an incipient harmony, nowhere an intention, nor a responsibility, nor a plan. Because the peculiarity of man is that his machinery for reaction on external things has involved an imaginative transcript of these things, which is preserved and suspended in his fancy; and the interest and beauty of this inward landscape, rather than any fortunes that may await his body in the outer world, constitute his proper happiness.

For, despite the varied and voluminous nature of his writings, it is in and through a single book that Thoreau immortalized a personal experiment and burned an image of himself on the consciousness of the world that more than one hundred years of criticism have scarcely been able to modify. Many people live alone, but few perhaps do so for the express purpose of discovering something about themselves, and with the intent of publishing their discoveries in a form that has permanent value and meaning for us all.

Thoreau appeals to those prisoners of megalopolis who from him gain at least a passing sight of blue sky. Walden is mainly an attempt to debate these opposed claims, and I believe it still and increasingly fascinates us because of our profoundly ambivalent attitudes on this subject.