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Tag Archives: Thoreau

Review of a New Biography of Thoreau.


The University Bookman decided I was the right guy to review the new Thoreau biography, presumably because of all these years living off-grid and the defense of Thoreau I wrote when The New Yorker published its scandalous, fact-free attack on the man.  So I read the biography – a nice one, by Laura Dassow Walls – and […]

Kathryn Schulz’s Mythologizing.


I have found a useful shortcut for dealing with intellectual debate, and since it has saved me time, I will pass it on to you: whenever two or three people write something on the internet in praise of person x for doing such-and-such a thing, know that the person in question was doing precisely the […]

Life Without An Editor.


I was reading Thoreau’s essay “Walking” – which is still one of the great things – and I was amazed by the paragraph below.  How in the world did he arrive at the last sentence in the paragraph?  It appears to be apropos of nothing at all.  Any editor would have reduced him to some […]

Thoreau on Simplicity.


Reflecting further on what I am looking for, as opposed to what Helen and Scott Nearing were looking for, I find much of the answer in Thoreau as usual: I see young men, my townsmen, whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools; for these are more easily acquired […]

Thoreau on Chopping Versus Buying Wood.


And on economics in general: If I buy one necessary of life, I cheat myself to some extent, I deprive myself of the pleasure, the inexpressible joy, which is the unfailing reward of satisfying any want of our nature simply and truly. From his Journal.



I’ve been terribly busy lately – it’s tapping season, the busiest time of year on a maple farm – and I haven’t had time to write down the long thoughts I’ve been having, but one of the themes in my mind has been an examination of the idea of self-sufficiency or self-reliance.  I’ve long thought […]

Returning to the Mountains.


After Thanksgiving at my mother’s house I spent a few days in the city.  They were fine days – I saw a stream of friends, went to the New York Public Library, saw a former student (who has become a teacher himself), and spent probably ten hours playing with young nieces, nephews, or cousins.  (I […]

Town Board Meeting Tonight, Zoning Board Meeting 11/13/13.


There’s a town board meeting tonight at 7 p.m., and one of the items of business will be our petition to get a stay on the decision to build a 177′ wind turbine here in town.  I’ve heard complaints from some of my environmentalist friends – we need renewable energy sources – but I still […]

Some Thoreau.


What a writer this guy is.  And so beautiful a soul.  On loneliness: But like those women of Malamocco and Pelestrina [towns on the Venetian lagoon], who when their husbands are fishing at sea, repair to the shore and sing their shrill songs at evening, till they hear the voices of their husbands in reply […]

Pros ton theon.


“Shams and reality are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous.  If men would steadily observe realities only, and not allow themselves to be deluded, life, to compare it with such things as we know, would be like a fairy tale and the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments.  If we respected only what is inevitable and […]