Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This is Why I Read

Inspirations from Henry David Thoreau’s “Walking.”

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks – who had a genius, so to speak, for SAUNTERING, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre,” to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed “There goes a Saint-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy Lander.
. . . vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean.
You do have to go to the Holy Land.
If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again – if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man – then you are ready for a walk.
. . . not the Knight, but Walker Errant. He is a sort of fourth estate, outside of Church and State and People.
Walker Errant – is what the Hermit calls his little robotic wagon.
Living much out of doors, in the sun and wind, will no doubt produce a certain roughness of character – will cause a thicker cuticle to grow over some of the finer qualities of our nature, as on the face and hands, or as severe manual labor robs the hands of some of their delicacy of touch. So staying in the house, on the other hand, may produce a softness and smoothness, not to say thinness of skin, accompanied by an increased sensibility to certain impressions.
This is why he wanders – to get away from those certain impressions.
I would forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to Society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is – I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?
Mind should be where the body is.
There is in fact a sort of harmony discoverable between the capabilities of the landscape within a circle of ten miles’ radius, or the limits of an afternoon walk, and the threescore years and ten of human life. It will never become quite familiar to you.
Wife says you don’t have to wander farm from home. This is inside the letter in the spacesuit he abandons on the regio.
Politics are but as the cigar-smoke of a man.
To enjoy a thing exclusively is commonly to exclude yourself from the enjoyment of it.
More for the letter from his wife.
The outline which would bound my walks would be, not a circle, but a parabola, or rather like one of those cometary orbits which have been thought to be non-returning curves, in this case opening westward, in which my house occupies the place of the sun.
Graffiti he marks constantly on the surface of Iapetus.
Who but the Evil One has cried “Whoah!” to mankind?
One of the Hermit’s favorite sayings.
Actinism – the power of the sun’s rays to degrade rocks and metal – but that the rock and metal can restore during the nighttime.
The Hermit thinks a lot on this topic.
We are accustomed to say in New England that few and fewer pigeons visit us every year. Our forests furnish no mast for them. So, it would seem, few and fewer thoughts visit each growing man from year to year, for the grove in our minds is laid waste – sold to feed unnecessary fires of ambition, or sent to mill – and there is scarcely a twig left for them to perch on.
Our winged thoughts are turned to poultry.
Why he runs – he is fearful is brain is dying, that his life has no meaning, that he has no great thoughts.
When, in doleful dumps, breaking the awful stillness of our wooden sidewalk on a Sunday, or, perchance, a watcher in the house of mourning, I hear a cockerel crow far or near, I think to myself, “There is one of us well, at any rate,” – and with a sudden gush return to my senses.
The Hermit hallucinates the calls of roosters, except during times of crisis? Or especially during crises?
So we saunter toward the Holy Land, till one day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever ha has done, shall perchance shine into our minds and hearts, and light up our whole lives with a great awakening light, as warm and serene and golden as on a bankside in autumn.
Plus a little bit from Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street:
The ten thousand Gopher Prairies had no monopoly of greetings and friendly hands. Sam Clark was no more loyal than the girl librarians she knew in St. Paul, the people she had met in Chicago.
“Yump. Fine mess. No sewage, no street cleaning, and the Lutheran minister and the priest represent the arts and sciences. Well, thunder, we submerged tenth down here in Swede Hollow are no worse off than you folks. Thank God, we don’t have to go purr at Juanity Haydock and the Jolly Old Seventeen."
The Hermit calls his favorite refuge Swede Hollow, and there’s some kind of mountain range he calls the Jolly Seventeen.
The greatest mystery about a human being is not his reaction to sex or praise, but the manner in which he contrives to put in twenty-four hours a day.
The Hermit says this to would-be interviewers.
She had fancied that her life might make a story. She knew that there was nothing heroic or obviously dramatic in it, no magic of rare hours, nor valiant challenge, but it seemed to her that she was of some significance because she was commonpalceness, the ordinary life of the age, made articulate and protesting. IT had not occurred to her that there was also a story of Will Kennicott, into which she entered only so much as he entered into hers; that he had bewilderments and concealments as intricate as her own, and soft treacherous desires for sympathy.

And a little from Carl Sagan:
Carl Sagan says the Earth is the shoreline of the cosmic ocean. I am going for a swim. But not a swim. I am barely standing on the wet sand, among the sticks, seaweed and twigs left behind by the ebb tide. Saturn lays a billion miles from that cosmic shore, but as I stare outwards toward the heliopause, I can see the tide gushing out, gushing out, leaving bare the mud and sand and rocks and sunken treasures of the solar system. The water of the cosmos recedes, welling into a tsunami of stars and dust and heat and cold and dark matter and comets and atoms that ever threatens to crash but always, always recedes until I am dizzy merely watching it, merely feeling the barest bits of moisture on my sand-encrusted toes.

No comments: