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Earth Book I: Walden-Thoreau's Emergent Deep Ecology Intratext

By Chuck Richardson

October 10, 2005

There are many valid readings of Henry David Thoreau, most centering on Walden. But the two most common these days seem typified by Leo Marx, an MIT professor and book editor, and Lawrence Buell, an ecocentric Harvard
English professor. (1)

Marx personifies the established view of Walden being a work of American pastoral, contrasting community and individual life. Buell, however, believes Walden records a "transformative journey" from an anthropocentric vision of
reality to an ecocentric one; or, if you prefer, from a human-centered dream to a systemic Earth-focused world encapsulating our observations as observed beings stewing away in the generalized will of things (otherwise known
as cosmic soup).

Buell sees human prejudice in Marx's reading, which excludes the validities of other forms of being for being insignificant-a very narrow view of the immensity indeed. Marx disparages Buell's construal for its exclusion of Thoreau's assumed dislike of humankind, authenticated by his interpretation of "the farmer Flint" in "The Ponds" essay.

I suggest a reading that integrates these, bonding their strengths while harmonizing their prejudices, which might provide deeper advances in our private considerations of our self and selves as Earth and Earthling within our
immense varieties.

Walden is an Earth book; Thoreau the Earthling from which it emerged.

Being Pastoralized or Homogenized?

Reading Walden as American pastoral, I discover Thoreau emphasizing individualism from the start-"In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this it will be retained; that, [with] respect to egotism, is the main difference."
(2) He's voicing a very Emersonian (i.e.: anthropocentric) view because he locates meaning within one's self, since Nature is "a remoter and inferior incarnation of God," but nonetheless the "present expositor of the divine mind."(3) Plato would accept this as fact. Marx feels that (and I agree with him, somewhat): "For one breathless moment Thoreau managed in Walden to hold the linked opposites `in solution fused' and yet still kept separate, he and
nature publishing each other's truth."

Walden also conveys two incompatible realities: one of ecstasy in Nature, the other of rage at social conventions, which are, of course, part of Nature. Marx finds Walden "difficult" due to the "ambiguous" way it "initially invites then
resists being read as a book about nature" [emphasis mine].(4) Ambivalence within the self breeds ambiguity in the writing. Refining this duality breeds precise, cutting, weaving and sewing metaphors. In this mode, Thoreau is in the platonic tradition of intuitive rationalism, in which perfect, unchanging ideal forms lend order and understanding to physical reality, which seems to oppose them.

A Buell-ish naturist reading, however, points to Thoreau's insatiable religious appetite for a concordance with the whole. In fact, we find multiple examples of this throughout his work. Take for example, "Why has man rooted himself
thus firmly in the earth, but that he may rise in the same proportion into the heavens above?"(5); or "What do we want most to dwell near to?…the perennial source of our life…this is the place where a wise man will dig his cellar."(6) Thoreau perceives the essentially spiritual character of what many deep ecologists call "first nature," that part of Nature which is not human. A good example of this is Walden's ending. I quote en toto because I want to give you, dear friend, a solid dose of what we're really dealing with here, just in case you haven't discovered it for yourself yet:

Every one has heard the story which has gone the rounds of New England, of a strong and beautiful bug which came out of the dry leaf of an old table of apple-tree wood, which had stood in a farmer's kitchen for sixty years, first in Connecticut, and afterward in Massachusetts,--from an egg deposited in the living tree many years earlier still, as appeared by counting the annual layers beyond it; which was heard gnawing out for several weeks, hatched by chance by the heat of an urn. Who does not feel his faith in a resurrection and immortality strengthened by hearing of this? Who knows what beautiful and winged life, whose egg has been buried for ages under many concentric layers of woodenness in the dead dry life of society, deposited at the first in
the alburnum of the green and living tree, which has been gradually converted into the semblance of its well-seasoned tomb, --heard perchance gnawing out now for weeks by the astonished family of a man, as they sat round the festive board, --may unexpectedly come forth from amidst society's most trivial and handselled furniture, to enjoy its perfect summer life at last!(7)

Thoreau, empathizing with this bug, wants society with God and perceives Nature as Its flesh, the wood Its social creation he must gnaw through-each ring of existence warmed by the absolute invisible-to reach the light
animating him. As Nature laid Its egg within the tree, the bug's energy derives from the sun that makes Earth possible, and though It is outside It comes from within Itself. The way to Its soul-Its circuitry's energy source-is the
awakened will digging Its way through reality, picking through and selecting Its artful wiring, within which It was deposited many years hence precisely for this purpose. Thoreau puts faith in the fact that a man can abstract a more honest, less adulterated truth from the meat of the whole Earthling rather than from humankind alone. If he can live within his own portion of Nature and be pure enough in his motives to perceive the unnamable for Itself, using his genius to do so, It and he will be observant of each other.

"But while we are confined to books [our own codexes] and read only particular written languages [the symbols of our culture]…we are in danger of forgetting the language which all things and events speak without metaphor
[being, existence], which alone is copious and standard [alive and well],"(8) expresses Thoreau's concern to emulate this pure, primal communication of a shared existence and convey the truest truth while avoiding mere erudition, or
book smarts. Each identifiable thing has an essence that supplies it with a purpose culminating in the prime mover, which implores it to live Its own life well.

Language is the perceived grammar abstracted from life's current in an effort to sensify It, and thus commune and relate to It, which is essential to Thoreau's innate sense of goodness, or diction, and is essentially Aristotelian. Simply put, we must live within our bodies and minds, but constantly try to expand our significance through an active relationship with Nature. To receive and truly touch Nature, one must reach for It, both inwardly and outwardly. For an external vision, one must look inward. For an inner vision, one must look out. This is the human way of forming a complex system in the abstract, commonly referred to as reality: the willful cultivation of an existable ambivalence re: the polarities of living. We all do this. When mystified by life, we produce logical frameworks for success by creating a complex system out of our rationalizations. Combining this with the absurdity of feeling responsible for our actions is what we humans do. What separates Thoreau from the common mass of humanity is his ability to express his singular humanness, or individuality, using a method of writing that crystallizes into an ever-increasing organic whole as it is read and re-read, written and re-written. He is, indeed, a strong and beautiful bug.

So it seems Thoreau is a third kind of writer, one who somehow merges Plato and Aristotle in Walden, which is something of a literary convergence (consider the aims of Jackson Pollock's actions).(9) But we also know he dug
Confucius, Hindu philosophy, Amerindian culture and championed civil rights. Neither Plato nor Aristotle were democrats, and it is safe to assume that both Marx and Buell are republicans, in that they prefer democratic representation over letting everyone have their say equally. I, on the other hand, as Thoreau, am a true democrat despite-or perhaps because of-my misanthropy, wanting everything to have Its say and equal consideration.We'll achieve anarchy once we're ready for it.

Neither a leader nor a follower be! Pastoralize your homogenizations!

Coloring the Invisibly Blank-Slated Hand: Method, Form and Style

In 1851, disappointed by the public reception of his only published book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, along with his growing estrangement from his mentor, Emerson, Thoreau began reconsidering his aims as a writer. It was now his journal grew more ambitious and he began re-writing his rough draft of Walden.

It was also during this period that he became more eccentric and less liberal, at least in the capitalist sensibilities of John Locke and Adam Smith.(10) He was doing much surveying, divvying up the Commons for farmers and
businesses. He was also a some-time real estate agent. His growing distaste for commercial enterprise pushed him away from humankind to Nature. What Thoreau scholars often see as a change in mid-life brought on by commercial
failure was actually brought on by the success of his family's pencil factory, in large part due to Thoreau's innovations, and the fact he was Concord's surveyor of choice. Here emerges the next logical stage in his development as an Earthling writer. Thoreau was constantly expanding his horizons, humanity alone would not and could not satisfy him-humankind was not enough to fill his soul. For Thoreau, second nature was second rate-if not in his mind, then heart.

The philosophical and spiritual change from anthropocentrism to ecocentrism dramatized in Walden is by the end of the book complete. Thoreau's no longer a poet-naturalist, or angry shepherd, but an imaginative writer of philosophy whose desire for a communion with God through Nature is insatiable. By now he believes his writing project-a process involving transcription of field notes then revising them into highly polished vignettes for his Journal-elicits a higher truth from Nature, finding harmony among object and reflection, fact and truth, close observation and generalized concept, while conceding the presence of "I" will affect It. Walden is the imaginative philosophical exercise crystallizing Nature as Thoreau perceives It, and the Journal is Its imagined, scientific

I am interested in how this shift in perception reveals itself in Walden, and how it manages to work itself into a strong enough resolution for the writer to drop his pen.

Consider his method:

Thoreau approaches setting from three angles: environmental apocalypticism, anthropomorphism, and the frontier dream of an Anglo settling culture with its obligation to civilize and Anglicize wilderness-institutionalizing all that is sacred in the process.

Perhaps the most heart-rending example of such nihilism is in "The Ponds." Again, I quote entirely to offer you, dear friend, its full affect:

When I first paddled a boat on Walden, it was completely surrounded by thick and lofty pine and oak woods, and in some of its coves grape vines had run over the trees next to the water and formed bowers under which a boat could pass. The hills which form its shores are so steep, and the woods on them were then so high, that, as you looked down from the west end, it had the
appearance of an amphitheatre for some kind of sylvan spectacle. I have spent many an hour, when I was younger, floating over its surface as the zephyr willed, having paddled my boat to the middle, and lying on my back across the seats, in a summer forenoon, dreaming awake, until I was aroused by the boat touching sand, and I arose to see what shore my fates had impelled
me to; days when idleness was the most attractive and productive industry. Many a forenoon have I stolen away, preferring to spend the most valued part of the day; for I was rich, if not in money, in sunny hours and summer days, and spent them lavishly; nor do I regret that I did not waste more of them in the workshop or the teacher's desk. But since I left those shores the wood-choppers have still further laid them waste, and now for many a year there will be no more rambling through the aisles of the wood, with occasional vistas through which you see the water. My Muse may be excused if she is silent henceforth. How can you expect the birds to sing when their groves are cut down?(11)

Here, Thoreau deftly manipulates the elements of setting-time, image, location, rhythm, tone and character-to evoke common emotions that awaken the reader's empathy with Nature, albeit vicariously through the very human
perspective of the narrator. He takes us back in time to his childhood, using the simplest language to convey the simplest time, striking a universal chord. What reader, with a youth asrelatively happy as Thoreau's, reading "I was
rich, if not in money, in sunny hours and sunny days" is not aroused, having had similar periods in one's earlier times?

Location is a special place of youth, a secret cove that serves as "amphitheatre," or stage, for the childlike, "sylvan imagination." Rhythm is conveyed by the consistency of its iambic meter, along which variations in sentence structure express the nuance of emotion that occurs between remembering what was and observing what is. The sentences at the end describe the affect of the chopping apocalypse-being shorter and more rhythmically quartered-as if trying to cut off the emotion. The earlier sentences, conveying memory, are freer as the narrator's emotion is gamer to express itself, setting the tone by fusing the present to the past and implying that humanity, on its current, industrious course, is not progressing, but deviating its path down an evil tangent. He lets us know this by suggesting a present that doesn't live up to natural history by using its tense alone, thus increasing the poignancy of what's happening. Thoreau then allows a flood of good feeling to rush into the present (it would be sentimental if its value were misplaced), only to damn it and drain it at the end with a "But" that puts on the brakes for the following sentence, which, though long, seems screeching in affect, the words like water splashing back on the reader as if from a wall, industriously wetting the rings of time around the pond, falling silent only when their human purpose is spent. Only two more diced sentences, short and final, will do. The absence of words and their free flowing rhythm echoes the silence of the pine and oak woods, whetting our palettes for better vistas, allowing us to share their author's hunger for more. The voice, in effect, is real and characterized, allowing the reader to commune with it in a sense familiar with the way it communes with its private, or individual memory of a secret place of its own, long lost to the desires of other people. The paragraph is Milton's "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso" more subtly conveyed. It is silent spring a century before Rachel Carson named the nightmare.

Thoreau also forges a bond between the reader and natural world by exploring and making sense of his internal intra-relatedness with the materially inter-related external world he's perceiving(the intra-relatedness of conscious
and subconscious), Nature (the intra-relatedness of first and second), the reader (an intra-related complex combination of the first two), and the commonality of languages among them (the multiplicity of wills expressing
themselves as the synchronistic end results of complex systemic processes seeking to organize themselves into a singular sense of meaning, or wholeness-at-one-ment). The darker side of this, of course, equates language with the powers of entropy, as atonement also occurs once things are settled, or dead; thus we have two countervailing forces which intra-relate within language as well: rhythm and death.

Again, and forgive me, dear friend, I will illustrate this with some lengthy quotes, one from the beginning of the book, and the others from the second to last chapter, "Spring." I do this searching for signs of Thoreau's transformation
from an anthropocentric worldview to an ecocentric one, as intra-relationships are defined by one's perception of the big picture within one's self.

Now, I would be remiss if I did not stop for a moment to consider what Robert D. Richardson Jr., in his insightful intellectual biography of the philosopher, calls Thoreau's "four worlds:" "One of the many paradoxes in Thoreau's
life, perhaps the most revealing, is that this best known of American stay-at-homes thought of himself as a traveler" in four different worlds, related to the concentric rings of a tree that mark its growth and the story of its seasons (it is indeed fitting that he may have contracted his final bout with poor health while counting the rings of an ancient tree in harsh, winter weather, being out and about, or traveling, when others were snug at home). These worlds, working their way from the innermost ring to the outermost, are:

1. The world of Concord-Walden, which was coursed by walking and understood through direct observation.2. The world of North America, where he excursioned by various means, including literature, which he understood through a combination of direct and indirect observations, as well as inductive logic.
3. Earth, over which he ventured by means of non-fiction books (Emerson, Virgil, Linnaeus, Gilpin, Olmstead and Darwin) and flights of imagination, which he understood by experience and/or reason, as well as deductive logic.
4. The ideal world, which he explored as the "objective extension and subjective analogue" to the first three, as a leaf is to a tree, providing a metaphor and structural principle or purpose for life. He knew life to be an odyssey of interior enlightenment, seeing the Self as the shores of a New Frontier, or wilderness. His wisdom was both inductive and deductive, purely logical in the most rational, intuitive sense. Walden is the leaf of this tree.(12)

Thoreau expresses the Ideal World in Walden, and its subjective parts each fall like noumenal seeds dispersing into one of three material, or phenomenal, realms.(13) As Thoreau attempts to bond his readers to Nature through his
individual search for a concordance with the whole, employing a method of examining the intra-relatedness of things, it is important to intra-link these worlds to the elements Thoreau is striving to intra-relate.

I see the first world of Concord-Walden being akin to that of the reader, in that Thoreau, like the reader, understands the world confronting him through direct observation. The words that the reader faces on the page are a nude or naked wilderness-depending on the awareness of the reader's eye (I) and the narrator's mood (voice)-which Thoreau has artfully projected there. He reads the wild, or first nature, we read the text, or second nature, which Thoreau strives to make as transparent as possible for our benefit.

The second world, or North America, equates to the commonality of languages, in which meaning is conveyed using a wide variety of media, which is known through a mixture of direct and indirect observation. One would feel strange if the sun were in the wrong position. Think about it. Awareness is deeper than the moment's perception.

The third world is virtual Nature, in which he (the wild) and the reader (the civilized, literate person) travel together by means of factual books and flights of imagination (Walden). Here, no matter how hard we try, flesh (i.e.: language) will always come between us (and thus the desire for purity as prescribed in "Higher Laws" makes sense when dealing with the reflective surfaces of things).

Walden is an Earth book because the last world, the ideal, is its author's portion of Nature Itself, his soul or genius that informs his being with Its integrity, identity and desire. Thoreau's primary Nature is the hair rising from the organic co-mingling of the first three, growing beyond their reach. His secondary or social nature exists beneath and within these phenomena, and is therefore always within easy reach. One need not strive to grow one's hair, but to be one's follicle is another matter indeed.

This four worlds paradigm reflects unraveling ambiguities that expose new ones which have always existed.(14) It is the purified crystallization of volcanic psychological forces-the avuncular surfacing of molten, planetary blood-and
Thoreau is a Columbus to it, wise like Solomon but sweet as David, tasting its intra-textuality while weaving it with words freshly spawned from intra-related codices onto a common pageness of grammarity.

Look at Walden's first chapter, "Economy:"

We might try our lives by a thousand simple tests: as, for instance, that the same sun which ripens my beans illumines at once a system of earths like ours. If I had remembered this, it would have prevented some mistakes. This was not the light in which I hoed them. The stars are the apexes of what wonderful triangles! What distant and different beings in the various mansions of the universe are contemplating the same one at the same moment! Nature and human life are as various as our several constitutions. Who shall say what prospect life offers to another? Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant? We should live in all the ages of the world in an hour; ay, in all the worlds of the ages. History,
Poetry, Mythology!-I know of no reading of another's experience so startling and informing as this would be.(15)

Here Thoreau has included the reader as a co-adventurer on his odyssey, using "we" and "ours" to show a commonality among not only himself and the reader, but also beings on other planets pondering the same Milky
Way at the same moment, and by so doing he's connecting first to second nature using a cosmic twist. This ideal of everything living everywhere and when at once, experiencing the whole of life for one's self, seems ecocentric, if not a bit gnostic, in that the self is not seeking dominion over Nature, but harmony and communion within It. This is Thoreau's ideal-the triangular intra-relatedness of Being.

But whom, or what, is Thoreau really including in his "we?" Is he including the whole of Nature, or is he addressing the reader in particular? If he is addressing the reader in particular, and we suggest that he is, like Thoreau,
eminently logical and pragmatic, then he is not even addressing humanbeings in general, but a select few who would find themselves opening this particular book. Thoreau, an optimist, assumes a natural kinship with the one
who will be reading his words (as he may have hoped that Nature's assumed his affinity), and the use of "we" and "our" makes the attraction contagious and further ambiguates the limits segregating our seemingly delineated, individuated forms. That he talks of other beings on other planets contemplating the same stars that we're pondering, specifically the geometry of their triangular interrelationships, as well as the speed of light through space suggesting the passage of time, not to mention with beans to husband that are dependent upon the angle-ation and rhythms of that light, suggesting a commonality of languages, a cosmic language, like mathematics, organic
grammar and rhythm-a music of the spheres formed by and for a triangulating humane intelligence, whether here on Earth or elsewhere, that can be intra-related. Though this quote comes from a fundamentally human perspective,
it is aiming at those few of us who long for its universal vision. Thoreau is specifically including the reader in his search for the complete generalization, or Truth.

Reader Intra-Related

We shall now look at what Thoreau is doing in "Spring," at the end of Walden, with regards to linking the reader to the natural world by exploring the intra-relatedness, or intra-textuality, of his self, Nature, the primary reader of his
text, and the universal language intra-relating them within the four realms of his exploration and wisdom.For this, we examine the passage from pages 402 to 408 regarding the forms of thawing sand and clay on the railroad tracks that run by the pond, taking Thoreau at his word when he claims, in August 1851, that he "omit[s] the unusual…and describe[s] the common," for it "has the greatest charm and is the true theme of poetry."(16) At the beginning of the chapter, Thoreau makes Walden Pond a metaphor for himself (albeit his female side, or what Jung would call his anima) in the way he anticipates and awakens to the Spring, making the pond a woman with a "new garment to take the place of the old"; (17) but also, more like himself, individual and sexually isolated with no streams feeding or draining it, existing harmoniously with the changing seasons as a material consistency, a solid rhythm section beneath all the riffs, a certain purity that freezes then thaws again and again, opening and closing the world soul orifice, the rising and lowering of spiritual proximity resembling an alternating current, each reflecting the other and seeming to perceive the same. The greatest miracle of all is spread over the whole of space-time. It does not move and it does not change, but is movement and change itself. It is common in the strictest sense of the
word. The second greatest miracle is that anything exists to perceive and conceive of It-and argue about It. All other miracles are derivative, minor rip-offs and poorly plagiarized paragraphs and emotions.

Always one for self-parody, Thoreau dates the time of that year's thaw-1854, the day the ice cracks and opens and invites her young lover in to play-as April Fool's Day. Ay, may a man be foolish and wise! The passage of time
and ever-changing environment must be simplified, or purified or made transparent to be perceivable. The more light that can pass through a material object, such as ice when transformed by the light into water, or writing when
transformed by revision and reading into authorship, or the husbanding of one's wife in the name of the blessed friction we call light, the more it will mean to us now. For Thoreau, the water of Walden Pond "indicates better than any water here-abouts the absolute progress of the season, being least affected by transient changes of temperature. A severe cold of a few days' duration in March may very much retard the opening of the former ponds,
while the temperature of Walden increases almost uninterruptedly."(18) Thoreau, like his pond, is marching to the beat of his own drummer.

That the image of the pond is a symbol for Thoreau's sexuality, his ideal woman, per se, creates a moment of sexual comedy, as Thoreau in springing ecstasy goes about writing of "thrusting the thermometer in the middle of Walden," and then commenting on its temperature, as compared to the other ponds he'd thrusted his thermometer into on the same day over a number of years, suggesting a certain promiscuity idealized in his essay on friendship in A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers.(19)

If the pond were indeed a woman, and the other ponds women, his behavior would be that of a savage since a gentleman does not kiss and tell. Thoreau is hyper-aware of the profound separation between the thing itself and its
sign. The way that both Thoreau and Walden Pond remain pure and decent symbols of each other's sexuality is in the way that they are chaste among their own kind. Thoreau's ideal promiscuity, being human, is with first nature, as the pond's ideal promiscuity, being non-human, is with second nature. The one may dip its thermometer, and the other may receive it, while still remaining chaste among its own kind. If the one with the thermometer is tied up with another one of its own kind, not much thermometer dipping will be taking place elsewhere. And if the pond were fed by a myriad of streams, the thermometer would register an agitated tepidity, and the eye would be denied its bottom due to a lack of clarity. One pond is no worse than the other is, but each has a distinct natural character, its own integrity and role to play in the system. Thoreau and Walden Pond are pure souls, having specific roles to play in Nature; and, having individual integrity, they play their roles well. Like them, but less specifically, we readers have a common function with these generator/conduits of intra-textualized systems because to go all the way we must intra-relate our own allegorical (i.e.: psychic) compositions to those being laid bare before us. We are to Thoreau's text what Thoreau's text is to the perceivable Walden. As Thoreau imagines Walden, we imagine Thoreau. Therefore, we are imagining Walden through Thoreau's imagination, which included you and me: his ideal reader; which is himself reading Walden, Walden reading the stars, stars thawing Walden, Walden thawing Thoreau, thawed Thoreau-Walden's text-thawing us, us thawed thawing ourselves, our self thawed thawing that which is frozen around us. Each of these phenomena intra-relate within our private metapshycicalities-those unnamable qualities
that bring our loins together, desiring the dipping of thermometers into deep, clear waters.

The benefits of having deeper, purer waters is evidenced by Thoreau's intra-textual intra-mingling with his four worlds and their four elements via the written word. His down-to-earth genius is stunning: "So, also, every one who
has waded about the shores of a pond in summer must have perceived how much warmer the water is close to the shore, where only three or four inches deep than a little distance out, and on the surface where it is deep, than near
the bottom."(20) This consistency, or ideal, among ponds is most dramatic when the particular pond is clear and deep. In that the pond is already symbolically human, Thoreau here bonds a factual truth in first nature to an ideal truth in second nature, and his role as writer is reflected in the surface of the pond and perceived by a reader of it; the pond, the water itself, being the medium, or language, conveys its meaning by reflection. That the laws he's
writing about here apply to all four worlds in his domain-in that it applies to the ponds we've actually experienced, and that ideal image of a pond we have in our minds and conjure up instantly when a wise guy asks us to define the
difference between a pond and small lake. This simple statement crystallizes the deeply complex processes informing it. It is a compression, or firing, of profound insight conveying Its universal, or cosmic essence.

The water of the pond is a metaphor for the strived after transparency of his own writing. Thoreau wants us to see through the pond to the soul at its bottom. The ice on the surface, which is undergoing constant revision in first
nature, is the text, which is undergoing constant revision in second nature. The ice-text is that which exists between God-Sun-Thoreau and Soul-Self-Reader. But the ice-text is transparent, allowing heat and light from the sun to
shine through it, warming the soul to such a point of agitation it will melt the ice mediating their communion, and, becoming thawed, ever more clear and liquid. God and Soul work from both sides of the ice-text to achieve this
transparency. The author seeks accurate conveyance of its revealed meaning and the reader seeks a true reading of it. Again, the water, text and bug's wood are here intra-mingled.

The essence of this reading-writing is grinding and granular-"In the right stage of the weather a [melting] pond fires its evening gun with great regularity"-but the sexual friction heard as pond thunder does not occur "every evening,
and I cannot tell surely when to expect its thundering; but though I may perceive no difference in the weather, it does. Who would have suspected so large and cold and thick-skinned a thing to be so sensitive?"(21) How many
men have said the same of their wife?

This, to me, suggests Thoreau's sense of radical democracy. In a world where everything is essentially spiritual (i.e.: intra-related, -mingled), everything has certain ideal, or natural rights as expressions of universal soul. To Thoreau,
Walden Pond has as much right to its dignity as any woman, nay more so, as its integrity remains intact despite the changing seasons, the passage of time, and the ravages of man. She is his wife in a romantic cosmic opera, and he husbands her.

In the next section, covering pages 399 to 402, Thoreau sketches a first world setting (Walden Pond) in the aspect of how it relates to himself, moving from lists of empirical facts of natural history (when the ice thawed) to ideas of
how they relate to him: "Every incident connected with the breaking up of the rivers and ponds and the settling of the weather is particularly interesting to us who live in a climate of so great extremes," citing as reasons for choosing
to be in such a mortal climate nature's undying ability to amaze us with its grinding granularity transforming consciousness into enlightenment, suggesting evolution is an alchemical process of first nature.(22) Indeed,
Thoreau is a married man.

Now we reach the transitional paragraph on page 402. Thoreau, who has been writing in the past tense, but with an active voice, switches to present tense with a passive voice, referring directly to the traveler as one who "picks his
way from islet to islet, cheered by the music of a thousand tingling rills and rivulets whose veins are filled with the blood of winter which they are bearing off."

His bachelor's seduction begins. The scene is set for the phenomenon of the sand and clay foliage, the manifestation of Earth's fecundity and original symbol for what precedes climax, the foreplay and titillation of "the green and flowing spring" where "nothing is inorganic" and Nature is God's flesh. To perceive Earth's sexuality, one must be passive regarding one's organic aim. To consummate marriage a man must learn how to make love to his
wife, and keep her faithful. It is very different from dominion, rape or fucking.

Thoreau begins his description of the sand foliage as:

…a phenomenon not very common on so large a scale…As it flows it takes the forms of sappy leaves or vines, making heaps of pulpy sprays a foot or more in depth, and resembling, as you look down on them, the lacinated, lobed, and imbricated thalluses of some lichens; or you are reminded of coral, of leopards' paws or birds' feet, of brains or lungs or bowels, and excrements of all kinds. It is a truly grotesque vegetation.

This is the typical distaste of the Puritan husband seeking his wife's clitoris and g-spot.

Here, as Thoreau is narrowing his use of language to the point of purity and transparency, the reader literally sees the patterns in the sand, having surely remembered seeing them or something like them in the past, but not having
given them particular notice, unless one was a child at the time, and had an experience like Thoreau's but lacked the language to articulate it, to attach general ideas to its specific images, to see the world as the text of a
conceived symbolic language, to touch nature as the skin of God, to recognize that symbolic language is a perceivable grammar abstracted from life in an effort to sensify it, creating a certain harmony among object and
reflection, fact and truth, close observation and generalized concept in which the writing process elicits a truer truth
from nature:

…in which you can trace the original forms of vegetation; till at length, in the water itself [the text], they are converted into banks [evolution, alchemy of nature], like those formed off the mouths of rivers, and the forms of vegetation are lost in the ripple marks on the bottom [like rings of a tree that record the passage of time].(24)

The grooms first glimmer of understanding as his bride squirms-a willing subject.

Thoreau sees one law ruling nature, as suggested by Goethe's leaf in An Italian Journey,(25) which symbolizes the fundamental unit of botany providing for the insight that certain laws (i.e.: grammar) underlie and guide all natural
processes. For Thoreau, this grammar, or body of laws, is the root of all knowledge and instinct, and it produces language as a byproduct of the organic perception of Earthlings and their need to sensify themselves. Allow me another lengthy quote, dear friend, to illustrate this point:

What makes this sand foliage remarkable is its springing into existence thus suddenly…I am affected as if in a peculiar sense I stood in the laboratory of the Artist who made the world and me-had come to where he was still at work, sporting on this bank, and with excess of energy strewing his fresh designs about [consider the method of chance in Jackson Pollock's abstract
expressionism]…You find thus in the very sand an anticipation of the vegetal leaf. No wonder that the earth expresses itself outwardly in leaves, it so labors with the idea internally. The atoms have already learned this law, and are pregnant by it. The
overhanging leaf sees here its prototype. Internally, whether in the globe or animal body, it is a moist thick lobe, a word especially applicable to the liver and lungs and the leaves of fat…, externally a dry thin leaf…The feathers and wings of birds are still drier and thinner leaves. Thus, also, you pass from the lumpish grub in the earth to the airy and fluttering butterfly. The very globe continually transcends itself, and becomes winged in its orbit…The whole tree itself is but one leaf, and rivers are still vaster leaves whose pulp is intervening earth, and towns and cities are the ova of insects in their axils.(26)

All four worlds and each of their four elements are thus neatly intra-related, and ideal law resonates throughout Nature creating multiple forms of beings striving to sensify it: "…who shall distinguish between the law by which a
brook finds its river, the instinct [by which] a bird performs its migrations, and the knowledge by which a man steers his ship around the globe?"(27) Thoreau is choosing Nature over history, or civilization, as a means to knowledge,
or education. He rejects the burden of history in light of Nature's continually sudden and remarkable springing into existence. The will to breed trumps propriety when life pursues life. Being is deeper and more intra-mingled than
thought. Facticity is more meaningful than any commentary about it (which is why I'm imploring you, friend, to read everything you can by or about Thoreau; please, don't take my word for his or those of others). But how can I see it
and stay mum, unless I'm struck dumb by it? So, the dumbstruck read searching for their remarks (I, like Thoreau, know this to be empirically true).

"When the sun [God, the pen-i.e.: penis] withdraws the sand [reading, text, sexuality, life, cervix] ceases to flow…You here see perchance how blood vessels are formed," reveals Thoreau's search for the resolution of human problems in Nature-each being a miraculous extension of the other-in an "effort to obey the law to which the most inert also yields."(28) For:

What is a man but a mass of thawing clay? The ball of the human finger is but a drop congealed. The fingers and toes flow to their extent from the thawing mass of the body…Thus it seemed that this one hillside illustrated the principle of all the operations of Nature. The maker of this earth but patented a leaf… [it] is…living poetry like the leaves of a tree, which precede flowers and
fruit,--not a fossil earth, but a living earth; compared with whose great central life all animal and vegetable life is merely parasitic.(29)

Nature is not marriage, but a wedding and a consummation of will. Thoreau is an ecocentrist, and the reader, inspired, becomes one also, as the universal soul passes over us like pond waves passing over the sand, imaging ripples upon our surface, making us reflect in its own image. Inside we areleaves, but we are being made in our intercourse with Nature. Worries about being fruitful and multiplying and having dominion over the Earth come later, and are, though somewhat artful and pleasing, unnecessary digressions with nihilistic effects. We are unique in detail, but uniformly respond to cosmic law in peculiar ways. Each of us is our own hair in Nature. This is why we get
haircuts and not hairs cut.

Thoreau finishes the section by stating: "Thaw with his gentle persuasion is more powerful than Thor with his hammer. The one melts, the other but breaks in pieces."(30) Thaw is the springtime sun on Earth-the damsel's romantic hero; Thor, the vernal star on ice, the villain.

It is one thing for ice to be transparent, but another for the Earth itself to be so. As a result, the intra-relatedness of Thoreau, Nature, the reader and the commonality of language is an entity formed by its unique portion of universal
grammar, and signifies a regulatory diction among the media connecting each element of Its private psyche to its externalized distant cousin in society so it can be internalized. Thus, Thoreau realizes the potential of art to image
and remythify the natural environment by trusting a factual idiom to reveal the meaning behind natural facts. An object's meaning is latent and internal. Facts and words, by definition, have a common origin. A word is a breath.
For a breath to exist one must breathe. To breathe, one must first be born, then one must eat and drink. These are obvious things, but they are all too often lost in the scramble for social status in the human world, or second nature.It all comes down to what being means. This is the essence of Thoreau's method and it expresses the evolution of his worldview, as the cradle of importance is no longer in the lap of the self. The first person, his "conceit to egotism," is now demolished…and the pure reader finds herself intra-related, with an intra-related ego more complex than what she had held for herself before.

Walden's Empirical Holism; or, Observational Limits & Organic Form

Thoreau's philosophical movement from rational-intuitive holism (anthropocentrism) to empirical holism (ecocentrism) is the organic code, or grammar, underlying Walden, and ultimately brings the author of the text and
its readers to the issue of limits, both logical and actual-"I perceive that we inhabitants of New England live this mean life that we do because our vision does not penetrate the surface of things."(31) Each of us is confronted by
the fundamental question of where nature-or the actual-leaves off, and culture-the imagined self-begins: "We are conscious of an animal in us, which awakens in proportion as our higher nature slumbers;"(32) or, better still,
where individual mind ends and universal mind begins: "But are they not indeed distinguished who are conscious that they are regarded at all?"(33) It is in this zone of transformation from a humanist world view to a naturist one in which the text, or reality, occurs (as Thoreau is obsessed with the never-ending metamorphoses of nature in rhythm with its transition through the seasons and their cycles), and the various media of individual expressions within nature create the friction we perceive as a shared, or common, experience, raising the question of what is shared and what is individual with regards to vision: "The greatest part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behavior."(34)

If one is something of a formalist one attempts to arrange or style, through artistic means, the generally perceived friction or rubbing together that we call life into something unique in its expression but universal in its meaning, which
is to be considered apart from its content or composition. If one is a linguist, or a philolologist, one considers the origins of words, being more concerned with the interplay of symbols and referents than things in and of themselves,
or their actual contents. If one is a musicologist, one is concerned with the sound of a note (symbol) or composition, as opposed to its meaning (in other words, feeling over thought). If one entertains a combination of the above
morphologies-language and music-seeking a formula or grammar that allows existence to occur, or brings it into being, one is seeking the ideal method, which translates phenomenally into a process that is pregnant with desire. In
such a case, in which the passionate intellect is so acute, the ideal method is made transparent by the form of the whole work of art. Form becomes an extension of content, which is the particular work's process or method, and the byproduct of the artist's struggle to crystallize an abstraction into existence or development, or at least the beginning of life and growth as a part of his innate processes, which seek to discover the material limits of his particular medium of art and what he can do within its assigned limits to convey his unique vision of the ideal.

The result of these efforts is a work of art that achieves organic form. Walden, again, is an Earth book. Thoreau is examining the limits of his ability to know God through Nature by using every valid method of which he can conceive.
Walden is a highly polished journal of these attempts divided into eighteen chapters covering two cycles of seasons intra-mingled into one. Eighteen does not divide by four fully, nor does it divide by eight, suggesting an ambiguity of transition through the seasonal cycles over the course of the chapters, as well as their granular shifting of focus from the human being and society in "Economy" to the ambiguity between humans and nature in "Higher Laws" to the final preference in favor of nature, in the next chapter, ironically titled, "Brute Neighbors," in which he does not discuss farmers or town folk but his cabin's critters. The grinding effect of the changing seasons and philosophy creates a natural thawing, or giving way, as in erosion, of the common world view held by his fellows at that time. He takes us through an odyssey of methods that the sensitive reader will feel deep within her gut. Walden and Thoreau are texts that viscerally affect my digestive organs, which is where life takes shape and conveys its meaning. Organic form is always sexual because it celebrates a titillation that more often than not results in orgasm and the expansion of emotionally charged ideas. Organicism is the functioning star chamber of our dreams and idealism.
Walden is not only a clitical, but critical text, plumbing also the logic juicing Thoreau's diverse perceptions of reality.

Orienting Self-History Evolves Literature Evolving

It now behooves us, dear friend, to briefly visit an old essay by M.H. Abrams called "Orientation of Critical Theories."(35) According to Abrams, there are four elements that comprise literary form: the universe, or nature; the text; the
artist; and the audience.

Sound familiar? These are the four worlds Thoreau considers himself a traveler in, as well as their four elements. As a reminder, his worlds were Concord/Walden, in which he traveled by foot and directly observed reality, in which he was a reader, or observer (i.e.: audience); North America, which he traveled by various means, including literature, which he observed directly and indirectly, which equates to the text as it is being observed by a variety of means; Earth, or Nature, which obviously relates to Abrams' universe; and the Ideal World, in which forms exist that can be revealed to the artist by using the purest artistic methods. Abrams points out that most literary theories and
criticisms include each of the four formal elements within their framework, but exhibit a discernable orientation toward one only. Thus Abrams implies that few critical theories of reality seek the harmony or interrelatedness tying
the world, its language, its receptors and transmitters together, or how the existence of a common spirituality informing them can congeal the elements of chaos into a perceivable and sensible whole-a singular, intra-related
entity. So one might also say that the organic form of Walden is striving for spiritual sensibility using all the means at hand to unknot Its self.

Abrams also points out how objective critical theories "regard the work of art in isolation from all these external points of reference, analyzes it as a self-sufficient entity constituted by its parts in their internal relations, and sets
out to judge it solely by criteria intrinsic to its own mode of being."(36) Obviously, this pertains to Walden and Thoreau being an intra-related unit perceiving the interrelatedness of everything else enmeshed in his inner wiring.
If Thoreau were really seeking a pure work of art, he would have written a different book and used a different method. He knew by definition there was only a single purity, and that an indefinite article would inadequately modify
its being. His aim seems to have been to write the pure art. He fully understood that purity only existed from the transcendent perch of the Ideal World, where the eye turns inward finding Its true selfhood-the intra-relating
elements screwing together the One Being. Walden the Earth book is anything but critically objective. There's dirt all over it.

Abrams also maintains that, if the artist's theory is not objective, that "It may be maintained that the artist's world is that of imaginative intuition, or of common sense, or of natural science; and this world may be held to include, or not to include, gods, witches, chimeras, and Platonic ideas."(37)

This is even closer to Thoreau's critical approach to Walden. However, as Abrams' tone seems to favor the objective approach over the subjective one, and I believe Thoreau esteemed both about equally, believing that we cannot
help but be subjective, being human, and that though true objectivity doesn't exist within our human framework, it does exist in the ideal and should be emulated in an individual's ethics, or actions, as he intuits them. I suggest,
then, that Thoreau is seeking objectivity through subjective means. Objectivity being a true communion with God through the meeting of objectives subjectively wrought, in which one may see the whole of creation as the joyous turmoil and fornication that it really is-subjectivity being the method of existence leading to the gnostic communion of holy intra-relatingness, or at-one-ment.

Pre-enlightened individuals are the subjects of all kinds of phenomena. Once they achieve sentience they become objects (i.e.: objectives) to themselves. The main differences among them are the conscious levels of their activities.
Who is awake, and who is sleeping-and to what degree? Thoreau lives and writes subjectively, but by the end of Walden the sheer weight of his subjectivity congeals into an objective whole, or a completed form capable of being perceived and existing by the integrity of its own, individually conceived grammar, and the ensuing dictions deduced therefrom.

But how did Thoreau achieve this? Oscar Wilde once stated that criticism is the best form of autobiography.(38) We have mentioned this before, but mention it again, as Walden is not only a critical text, but also something of a
memoir, or autobiography, and therefore, by Wilde's aesthetic, the highest form of criticism: earth analyzing Earth-and vice versa…wholly intra-related.

Boris Tomashevski, in "Literature and Biography," considers the "literary functions of biography as the traditional concomitant of the artistic work" because "…during the individualism of creativity [period of the eighteenth century]…the name and personality of the author came to the forefront."(39) Thoreau, with his epochal conceit to the first person, falls squarely into this realm, seeming to live Lord Byron's definitive life of the lyric poet by making himself the hero of his own text, transforming his life into a poem and his work into poetry. Tomashevski writes: "…lyricism…is clearly the result of an orientation toward autobiography…the author had to make literary use of his
own [life]…[and thus] the interrelationships of life and literature became confused during the Romantic era."(40) Not "confused" you ethnocentric dork, but clarified in ways that subvert or transcend mere rationalism.

I believe it is precisely this confusing clarity that Thoreau, writing in the immediate historical wake of the Romantic movement, was striving to further elucidate via his eccentric experiments and his peculiar observance and recording methodologies. Using his life to realize his own literary purpose, Thoreau writes:

To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live, according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically.(41)

Desiring self-expression, Thoreau needed to transcend mere Romanticism, the glorification of "I," and enter into a world that beatified Nature, of which the heroic Self, like:

The heroic books…will always be in a language [or expression] dead to degenerate times.(42)

Thoreau was a romantic in that he made himself the hero of his text and times:

To read…in a true spirit, is a noble exercise, and one that will task the reader more than any exercise which the customs of the day esteem…there is a memorable interval between the spoken and the written language, the language heard and the language read…one is commonly transitory…the other is the maturity and experience of that;…a reserved and select expression, too significant to be heard by the ear, which we must be born again in order to speak;(43)

but also transcendental in that he repeatedly parodies his romantic self-image to glorify his perceived image of the ideal, as-in at the end of "Brute Neighbors"-he is consistently outwitted in a fall game of trigonometric tag with a common loon about the pre-dawn surface of Walden Pond, and writes, mock-confused and flabbergasted, but reigned in, as to fool the imperceptive reader with the inner calm of a loon playing its game:

But why, after displaying so much cunning, did he invariably betray himself the moment he came up by that loud laugh? Did not his white breast enough betray him? He was indeed a silly loon, I thought.(44)

So how, finally, did Thoreau achieve in Walden a completed form capable of being perceived and existing by the integrity of its own, individually conceived grammar? By coming to see himself as one with the whole of Nature, rather than in a particular harmony with his fellow men:

I do not say that John or Jonathan will realize all this; but such is the character of that morrow which mere lapse of time can never make to dawn. The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.(45)

Thoreau simply likens the transformation he's undergone to a mere waking up, a falling away of the delusions that envelop human society, a removal of the scales from one's eyes, and to partake in the vision of a world that's awaking with its rising star.

Tomashevski writes that by the "middle of the nineteenth century, the poet-hero was replaced by the professional poet, the businessman-journalist [e.g.: Emerson]."(46) Thoreau, though way ahead of his time-and ours-with regards to his vision of man's place in Nature, was in 1854 considered, ironically, as something of a throw-back, a literary Luddite and savage, who's estrangement from Emerson haunted his mentor as something of an ideal form of
himself that he'd forgotten, or was unwilling to face for civil, or humane reasons.

Whatever Truth Emerson shied away from, too many of us are still denying today. As a rural high school English teacher is so fond of summarizing: "Thoreau, I think, was more right about things; but Emerson was more
achievable, or realistic, about them. One can believe Thoreau, but do Emerson." How sad for the seventh generation that we are so miseducated.

I've digressed a bit, but what I'm trying to say is that Walden takes on the organic form of an autobiographical metamorphosis of worldviews-it is the transcendence of the Earthling from the human being. Earth is our all-
encompassing life as The Living Planet. We are, beyond all phenomena, Earthlings first and last, human only in the middle. Just as a cell in one's heart tissue is you in the alpha-omega, its form is an extension of content, its soul being its youness. Thoreau's content was his method of searching for harmony. The search itself became manifest in its emergent form, sense locating its selfhood within the odyssey, and "the sun is but a morning star."

Neo-Neanderthal Earthling Stylizations

So what about style?

As Thoreau was considered by the literati of his day to be something of a throwback, when we discuss his style we shall do so in Aristotelian terms, those from The Poetics in particular, as Plato had little time for the poets (or others of their ilk) in his republic.(47)

When I speak of style I mean, specifically, the distinct manner of description the artist uses to express his or her perceiving selfhood. It is important to remember that at the moment of creation, the thing is not itself yet. The artist
has an ideal image in his or her head, and the work is to describe that imageto the best of one's ability, using what one has to express it. Style is the manner in which one performs that action, and is thus the most vibrant aspect of an artist's work.

Thoreau's particular style falls into what Aristotle calls "the mark of an educated man" in that he "look[s] for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits."(48) Thoreau seeks transparency in language through the precise description of objects. When you no longer notices that words are conjuring up the images of things themselves in your head, the language has achieved transparency. Then Thoreau goes one step further by taking you to the very limit of what can possibly be known about the phenomena in your mind without dissolving them, but clarifying them even more by investing them with your metaphysical significance, your own transparency. By achieving the transparency of language by way of style, Thoreau achieves transparency of the object, or text, by investing it with symbolism:

…my house was not finished for winter, but was merely a defence against the rain, without plastering or chimney, the walls being of rough weather-stained boards, with wide chinks, which made it cool at night. The upright white hewn studs and freshly planed door and window casings gave it a clean and airy look, especially in the morning, when its timbers were saturated with
dew, so that I fancied that by noon some sweet gum would exude from them. To my imagination it retained throughout the day more or less this auroral character, reminding me of a certain house on a mountain which I had visited the year before. This was an airy and unplastered cabin, fit to entertain a traveling god, and where a goddess might trail her garments. The winds which
passed over my dwelling were such as sweep over the ridges of mountains, bearing the broken strains, or celestial parts only, of terrestrial music. The morning wind forever blows, the poem of creation is uninterrupted; but few are the ears that hear it. Olympus is but the outside of the earth everywhere.(49)

Thoreau achieves transparency at the very start with "…house…not finished for winter…without plastering or chimney…walls…of rough weather-stained boards, with wide chinks…"-presenting solid outdoor images strung
smoothly together upon a chord of iambic rhythms, lulling the reader's critical attention enough to stir the imagination into envisioning "The freshly planed door and window casings," and then seeing what's not there, but what might be there, through the door and window, by journeying via language to noon when "some sweet gum [will] exude from them." Now we are on the imaginative journey, but the image of the door and the window, the incomplete
shack, remain firmly in our minds as we move from the particular shack to one visited in the past, our past, expanding the category of shacks from individual to plural, into an ever wider arena of imagination that covers all space and time, if not in reality then firmly by implication or suggestion, as a finger pointing to some far off place. The door and window of the unfinished shack-the text itself in the process of being written and read-become ideal
via their replication, their expansion from the particular to the universal while retaining their "auroral" character, their essence, resonating their forms throughout all the dimensions of the whole. Now, suddenly, you see the door and window as intra-relatable objects of your shack, portals to another place and time and other dimensions of reality-the collective hut…place of the cosmic human. Our walls and limits exist in time, discovered and/or constructed for transcendence-our passing through to the Olympus of our other side.

Thoreau's style also involves an enthusiastic and humorous, never-ending search for unique ways to link his direct observations of the political and biological intra-relatedness of first and second Nature. Since humans instinctively divide Nature into first and second parts-one human, the other not-Thoreau strives to re-join them. Any such linkage, if it is to occur, must be of their likenesses and a metaphor.(50) Thoreau's description of his shack, quoted above, is a metaphor of this metaphor.

Yet, Aristotle writes: "…the poetic expression should have some mixture of…metaphor…to ensure that it is not commonplace, or low, and the common element [to] ensure clarity."(51) It was within Thoreau's stylistic range to fuse
the pastoral mode to anti-capitalist satire and self-parody. Thoreau cheerfully intra-mingles metaphors-conjugating noumenal ideals with phenomenal realities-to transcend perceived shortcomings by absorbing the best humors
contained in each situation:

I had this advantage, at least, in my mode of life, over those who were obliged to look abroad for amusement, to society and the theatre, that my life itself was become my amusement and never ceased to be novel. It was a drama of many scenes and without end. If we were always indeed getting our living, and regulating our lives according to the last and best mode we had learned, we
should never be troubled with ennui. Follow your genius closely enough, and it will not fail to show you a fresh prospect every hour. Housework was a pleasant pastime. When my floor was dirty, I rose early, and, setting all my furniture out of doors on the grass, bed and bedstead making but one budget, dashed water on the floor, and sprinkled white sand from the pond on it,
and then with a broom scrubbed it clean and white; and by the time the villagers had broken their fast the morning sun had dried my house sufficiently to allow me to move in again, and my meditations were almost uninterrupted. It was pleasant to see my whole household effects out on the grass, making a little pile like a gypsy's pack, and my three-legged table from which I did not
remove the books and pen and ink, standing amid the pines and hickories. They seemed glad to get out themselves, and as if unwilling to be brought in. I was sometimes tempted to stretch an awning over them and take my seat there. It was worth the while to see the sun shine on these things, and hear the free wind blow on them; so much more interesting most familiar objects
look out doors than in the house. A bird sits on the next bough, life ever-lasting grows under the table, and blackberry vines run round its legs; pine cones, chestnut burs, and strawberry leaves are strewn about. It looked as if this was the way these forms came to be transformed to our furniture, to tables, chairs, and bedstead,--because they once stood in their midst.(52)

No one can ever accuse me of quoting out of context to illustrate some point I am trying to make. My flights of fancy derive from the text itself. Thoreau suggests here, by shear force of enthusiasm, the mixing of phenomenal forms, the second nature of the furniture with the first nature of the outdoor setting, their figures suggesting their underlying commonality, or relatedness-the shared dimension of their reality. He transcends their individual
shortcomings by fusing their intentional or willed peculiarities.(53) This is simply a part of Thoreau's style, which, by now, friend, you've had a good helping.

But I have one more thing to say, at least about Thoreau's style, concerning Aristotle's ideals. The ancient one dictated that "The specific excellence of verbal expression in poetry is to be clear without being low" and that
"…moderation is a common principle applying to all the modes of poetic diction."(54) Thoreau, by being sensitive to the interplay of phenomena-the sensations composing commonplace natural events-moderated or filtered their
effects and expressed their "specific excellence" by coming up with singular images that conveyed the response of his whole being to their interplay. Consider:

The night-hawk circled overhead in the sunny afternoons-for I sometimes made a day of it-like a mote in the eye, or in heaven's eye, falling from time to time with a swoop and a sound as if the heavens were rent, torn at last to very rags and tatters, and yet a seamless cope remained; small imps that fill the air and lay their eggs on the ground on bare sand or rocks on the tops of hills, where few have found them; graceful and slender, like ripples caught up from the pond as leaves are raised by the wind to float in the heavens; such kindredship is in Nature. The hawk is aerial brother of the wave which he sails over and surveys, those his perfect air-inflated wings and surveys, those his perfect air-inflated wings answering to the elemental unfledged pinions of the sea. Or sometimes I watched a pair of pen-hawks circling high in the sky, alternately soaring and descending, approaching and leaving one another, as if they were the embodiment of my own thoughts. Or I was attracted by
the passage of wild pigeons from this wood to that, with a slight quivering winnowing sound and carrier haste; or from under a rotten stump my hoe turned up a sluggish, portentous, and outlandish spotted salamander, a trace of Egypt and the Nile, yet our contemporary. When I paused to lean on my hoe, these sounds and sights I hear and saw anywhere in the row, a part of the inexhaustible entertainment which the country offers.(55)

Here, Thoreau's sensitivity to the interplay of phenomena that enable the hoeing of a row of beans, which provides him the calories to do with his text what the farmer will do with his acre, and thus, vicariously, what we're doing with our readings of these fields-intra-mingling elemental ubiquities into compounds that re-shape and re-compose ourselves into constituative, functionary perceivers who allow for moderations of the naturally occurring dictions of everywhere so that common abstractions can and will crystallize into words deriving power and being from their specificity.

Simply put, Thoreau esteems the common without a trace of sentimentality, achieving Aristotle's ideal of the golden mean through his distinctive, moderating style of description.

Odyssey of Sensations & Transparent Distinctions

Thoreau's transparent, analytical methodology emerges Walden's organic, evolutionary form, and its simple-complex style provides it with its distinctly friction-packed flavor. Its sensibility is so passionate and acute that its
odyssey of sensation erodes any certainty of distinctions to a point of utter transparency. Pure expression conveys the essential spirituality of all things using factual idioms. The more individual, the more universal, natural and
eternal-the greater the integrity and validity. Individualistic Nature-writing is a gnostic means to communion with God, and the closest natural object Thoreau has for study is himself. Purity is a means of keeping his interior life, his pond's depth, clear enough for his soul to engage other natural objects. His soul, like the Earth, is an Indian thing.(56) One can't see the fineness beyond the glass if the window isn't clean. To see things almost as they are, or at least to the best of one's human ability, one's internal life must be purely intra-related or transparent.

Purity and simplicity are means to transparency where original language is used. Transparency is a physical attribute of special value, for it allows human penetration, both visual and intellectual. Thoreau's writing process, despite itself, seems to suggest the ultimate inseparability of each domain and invests his evocation of natural beauty with its environmental point of apocalypse necessitated by human desire.

As an alternative way of reading Walden from the naturist or pastoral viewpoints, I recommend a somewhat existential, or phenomenological reading, in that being, for Thoreau, seems to inform both knowledge and action. Therefore, it is up to each individual to imagine a meaning for reality, and to recognize the importance of one's attitude, or motivation (the purity thereof) in imagining it. Walden is not a book about nature and society; it is nature and society. The pastoral mode is a manifestation of Thoreau's ontology, which informs his naturism, which is both a will to know and the need to act upon it. Thus, American pastoral and naturism are symbiotic. Walden's existential principles lie in its problematic characterization of concreteness or materiality, in which limits, or the zone of separation between the individual and nature, are made one by a religious adherence to method, or action (i.e.: ethics). The individual is not a detached observer of Nature, but an ethical participator within it as a natural mode observing Itself.

Intentionality, or attitude, always goes along with consciousness. We find what we're looking for most of the time.(57) This reading resolves the pastoral difficulty with Walden (re: its ambiguous way of inviting us to read it as a book
about nature then resisting that and its anthropocentric limitations) by placing first and second nature in a symbiotic relationship. Nor does it diminish the role of human beings in the universal play as naturism does, as its values are nothing if not humane-a means by which Nature can think of Itself.

What the pastoral, naturist, existential and phenomenological readings of Walden have in common is their having sprung from Thoreau's sense of the metapsychicality of will;(58) his longing for at-one-ment, or being there;(59) and his willingness to transform himself through revelatory nuggets of self-expression, placing complete faith in the alchemical intra-relatedness of streams of awakened language and the grammar-ridden dictions pursuing them into consciousness.


1. Marx, Leo. "The Struggle Over Thoreau." A review of The Writings of Henry David Thoreau: Journal, Volumes 1 to 5, Elizabeth
Hall Witherell, editor, Princeton University Press; Faith is a Seed: The Dispersion of Seeds and Other Late Natural History Writings, by
Henry David Thoreau, Bradley P. Dean, editor, Island Press; A Year In Thoreau's Journal: 1851, with an Introduction by H. Daniel Peck,
Penguin; Consciousness and Concord: The Text of Thoreau's Hitherto "Lost Journal," (1840-1841) Together with Notes and a
Commentary, Perry Miller, editor, AMS Press; Deep Ecology for the 21st Century: Readings on the Philosophy and Practice of the
Environmentalism, George Sessions, Shambala; Writing Nature: Henry Thoreau's Journal, by Sharon Cameron, University of Chicago
Press. Published in New York Review of Books, Volume XLVL, Number 11, June 24, 1999. "The Full Thoreau." A review of The
Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture, by Lawrence Buell, Belknap
Press/Harvard University Press; Seeing New Worlds: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Natural Science, by Laura Dassow
Walls, University of Wisconsin Press. Published in New York Review of Books, Volume XLVI, Number 12, July 15, 1999.
2. Thoreau, Henry David. Walden, Quality Paperback Book Club, New York, 1997. First published 1854. See Chapter 1, "Economy,"
p. 2.
3. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. "Nature." Published anonymously, 1836. For an online text, see
4. Meaning the scope of William Empson's typology, as when details multiply simultaneously, when two or more alternative
meanings are fully resolved into one composing three in search of another, when alternative meanings combine to make clear the
narrator's complex evolving mind, in which contradictory or irrelevant messages must be interpreted and the total friction stitching
together while separating the narrator's mind is made apparent so that its details can be effective in various ways at once creating a
spectrolitic form of synchronistic multiplicity? You bet. For more on this, see Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity, 1930; and Milton's
God, 1961.
5. Walden, "Economy," p. 18.
6. Walden, "Solitude," pp. 175-176.
7. Walden, "Conclusion," pp. 439-440.
8. Walden, first sentence, "Sounds," p. 146.
9. Pollock, Jackson. Chance methodology…Pollock's spontaneity derived from a precise yet random inertia-a subversive,
vertigionous dance toward self-creation; an infinitely self-edited monologue pigmentizing a gut felt nihilism, idiosyncratic in its
intrinsically rebellious anarchy. Nature is the physicality of materializing internal arenas that give scope to our life and death
digressions. The Psycho-physicality of organisms stamps them as documents of Nature's existential struggle, of which our visions
are merely the residua of various colliding forces making friction in the world. Reality is action, not some form of materialistic
objectivity, the production itself vice the product we consume. An aesthetic effect is derived from the act of abandoment and the
simultaneous striving for accuracy, the bipolar axes torquing everyone's internal life into distinctly human sensibilities. And thus an
ambivalent collective unconscious emerges into the prevailing ambiguities of individual human awarenesses and all the ensuant
peculiarities thereof...
10. Locke, John, and Smith, Adam, re: the marriage of liberalism and capitalism. Locke's notions that good government rules with
"the consent of the governed" and that people possess inalienable rights like life, liberty and the pursuit of personal wealth is part of
the one-two punch of America's alleged political philosophy, which justifies continual revolution. His public views, however, conflict with
his private activities as an investor in the English slave-trade. Smith's The Wealth of Nations-an anti-mercantile diatribe published in
1776-is the seminal work of capatilist economics, developing it into an autonomous, systematic discipline whose tenets were free
trade, material wealth liberated from the land creating increased production derived from the hierarchical division of labor, the
abandonment of earlier ideologies in the belief that overpopulation will prevent wages from exceeding subsistence. Smith postulated
that increasing wages will increase production and that God's "invisible hand," which is beyond our philosophy, constantly guides the
apparently chaotic, unrestrained free market. If shortages occur, prices go up creating a desire for more effort to go into production to
lower those prices and cure the shortage. Smith calculated that even though most humans are primarily motivated by greed and
selfishness, the competitiveness of the free market and the meritocracy it produces will hold these immoralities in check and balance
in something akin to a natural moral order. Smith attacked most forms of gummint meddling in business because it would breed
inefficiencies that would lower production, increase wages and other business expenses that foster inflation. In other words, these
guys were dickheads and didn't really get out in the woods very much.
11. Walden. "Ponds," pp. 254-255.
12. Richardson, Robert D. Jr. Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind. University of California Press, 1986. From Part VII: "New Books,
New Worlds," Chapter 64, "The Four Worlds of Henry Thoreau," p. 240.
13. Kant, Immanuel (1724-1804, German idealist). Noumenon/phenomenon: That which humans cannot observe through the
senses or imagine with their mind/and those things that can. These intertwining realities or forces weave Kant's critical philosophy-a
rationality that debunks reason, a criticality that subverts objectivism-describing how we know what we know about the unkowable to
ascertain an ethical means to a moral existence. What a single individual can and cannot know says more about the individual's
intellectual state of affairs than it does so for the entire species, or the universe at large, as the human being is restricted by its own set
of categorical imperatives. The idiosyncratic experience-activities of a particular individual is our only hope as a species of discovering
ourself within a meaningful context. No one can do it for us, there's no easy button [sic]. Science emerges from a synthesis of
accumulated sense perceptions categorized by our means of making sense of them within the constraints of space-time-a
metapsychic-metaphysic field in which consciousness roams perceiving an objective harmony amidst nature as a mind-being in Itself
exchanging abstractions with entities existing outside yet within Its mind-the marriage of a singular private awareness to a universal
abstraction mushrooming into a collective spark of subconsciousness. What we are not aware yet potentially aware of can be deduced
by whatever rigors the individual mind is prone to exercise. Goodness seeks harmony within the universal flow of things, evil contests
them and rejects Nature, falsely believing that by doing so it can advance its own well-being at the expense of another. Each growing
hair is the means to its own ending at the trimmer's blade. Good knowledge emerges from objective scientific processes, not
ideologies that claim proof of things that can't be tested while ignoring the validity of each observer's observations. In many ways, Kant
is the original deconstructionist and progenitor of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Part of being enlightened is the ability to discern
between provable and unprovable knowledge, and that which can be reasonably built upon from that which will prove a dead end.
Enlightened people are the ideal citizens of modern, utopian societies. A good online read analyzing Kant can be had at http://www.
14. Quantum theory: Learning how to predict the actual locations and movements of bodies and waves, their interrelatedness via
shared energies and momenta, with ever-increasing accuracy. QT's deeper than Newton or your basic electromagnetism as it
applies to more precise things about a much wider variety of stuff. QT accounts for three types of thingness that old physics cannot: (i)
the quantization (discretization) of certain physical quantities, (ii) wave-particle duality, and (iii) quantum entanglement. However, in
some cases the old rules of physics work acceptibly well, but only when they correspond to QT. Most physicists believe that QT
correctly describes the physical world almost all the time nearly everywhere. The question of compatibility between QT and Einstein's
general relativity is a very hot topic, perhaps the hottest, in this field of inquiry. QT is a science that takes the fact of one's self, one's
objective existence, into consideration as one of the variables at work in creating the phenomena comprising each situation. It is,
indeed, an objectivist conceit to "I."
15. Walden. "Economy," p. 11.
16. Richardson, p. 248.
17. Walden, "Spring," p. 395.
18. Ibid 17, pp. 395-396.
19. Thoreau, Henry David. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Quality Paperback Book Club, 1997. Originally published
1849. Thoreau considers these various aspects of friendship, pp. 327-356: the fiction of, 331; true, 336; between the sexes, 337;
warrior qualities of, 342; promiscuity of, 345; in relation to family, 346; Confucius and, 351; death of friends, 356.
20. Walden, "Spring," p. 396.
21. Ibid 20, p. 398.
22. Ibid 20, p. 400.
23. Ibid 20, p. 403.
24. Ibid 20, p. 404.
25. Goethe, Johanne Wolfgang von (1749-1832). Italian Journey (1816-1817). Also see Theory of Colours (1810), The
Metamorphosis of Plants (1790).
26. Ibid 20, pp. 404-405.
27. Thoreau, Journal, 1854.
28. Ibid 20, pp. 405-406.
29. Ibid 20, pp. 406-408.
30. Ibid 20, pp. 408-409.
31. Walden. "Where I Lived," p. 126.
32. Walden. "Higher Laws," p. 290.
33. Walden. "Baker Farm," p. 269.
34. Walden. "Economy," p. 11.
35. Lambropoulos, Vassilis; Miller, David Neal-editors. Twentieth Century Literary Theory: An Introductory Anthology, SUNY Press,
Albany, 1987: "Orientation of Critical Theories," pp. 3-31, by M.H. Abrams.
36. Ibid 35, Abrams, p. 6, 25.
37. Ibid 35, Abrams, p. 7.
38. Ellmann, Richard. Oscar Wilde, Vintage Books, 1987. On page 51, Ellmann writes: "If [Wilde] needed evidence for what he
would say later, that `Criticism is the highest form of autobiography,' he could find it in [John Ruskin, Walter Pater's] unconscious self-
revelation." Unfortunately, Ellmann does not cite the source for this Wilde quote.
39. Ibid 35, "Literature and Biography," by Boris Tomashevski, p. 117.
40. Ibid 39, p. 119.
41. Walden, "Economy," p. 17.
42. Walden, "Reading," p. 131.
43. Walden, "Brute Neighbors," 313.
44. Ibid 43.
45. Walden, Final paragraph, "Conclusion," p. 440. Also see: Stein, Gertrude. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, and Writing.
She writes that sentences are thoughts, paragraphs emotions.
46. Ibid 39, p. 120.
47. Aristotle. Poetics, translated by Gerald F. Else, Ann Arbor Paperbacks, The University of Michigan Press, 1967; Plato, The
Republic: And Other Writings, B. Jowett, translator, Doubleday, 1989.
48. Poetics, "The basic principle of poetic style," pp. 58-61.
49. Walden. "Where I Lived," p. 110.
50. Poetics, pp. 60-61.
51. Ibid 49, pp. 58-59.
52. Walden. "Sounds," pp. 148-149.
53. Aristotle's teleology; Schopenhauer, Arthur (1788-1860), concept of will. Teleology supposes intelligent design, reality being
dreamed up by a purposeful singular entity informing life, or what we call Nature. Teleology probes what it believes is the single
principle organizing natural laws and phenonema. Humankind sees because it has eyes, but it also has eyes to see. This resonates
through the five senses and intuition/imagination/poetry/poem/leaf. Aristotle writes: "Nature adapts the organ to the function, and not
the function to the organ" (De partib., animal., IV, xii, 694b; 13). He posits that one errs in attempting to reduce everything to necessity,
because such thinking neglects the purpose, order, and final cause from which perceived situational necessity emerges.
Schopenhauer's idea re: will: that the world is will and representation. views life as being futile, evil, and filled with inevitable suffering,
but also a brief chance for a perceived, personal autonomy within all the suffering via beautiful meditations, universal empathy, and a
moral need to tread lightly in the world. Schopenhauer begins at Kant's severing the universe into objects and non-objects, which were
really subjects and non-subjects, claiming that the noumenon and Will are the same thing. It is the inner content and the driving force
of the world, the black hole into which our private universes implode-the primal force of our deepest attractions. Human will is more
relevant in world affairs than human intellect. Desire forms thought as fire casts iron. Will is the leaping flame, the spark of perceiving
light that makes the visible world possible. Art is more valid to being than reason, as are "loving kindness" and some types of spiritual
practice. Schopenhauer believed that reason and logic fail to deduce Nature's noumenous quality (or will) because each dwells in the
realm of objects, a field of common desire. We are enablers of unachieved worlds existing beyond our minds through a particular
universal expression we cannot touch or conceive of...The rational mind is an electron traveling upon an invisible sub-current called
Will. And only by recognizing what lies beneath our thoughts, words and actions, and living accordingly, can a "human" reality take
shape, emerging from its deep roots.
54. Poetics, pp. 58-59.
55. Walden. "The Beanfield," pp. 209-10.
56. Kerouac, Jack. On The Road, 1954. "The Earth is an Indian thing" is Sal Paradise's slogan, from Part IV, 5: "I took the wheel
and drove among reveries of my own, through Linares, through hot, flat swamp country, across the steaming Rio Soto la Marina near
Hidalgo, and on. A great verdant jungle valley with long fields of green crops opened before me. Groups of men watched us pass from
a narrow old-fashioned bridge. The hot river flowed. Then we rose in altitude till a kind of desert country began reappearing. The city of
Gregoria was ahead. The boys were sleeping, and I was alone in my eternity at the wheel, and the road ran straight as an arrow. Not
like driving across Carolina, or Texas, or Arizona, or Illinois; but like driving across the world and into the places where we would finally
learn ourselves among the Fellahin Indians of the world, the essential strain of the basic primitive, wailing humanity that stretches in a
belt around the equatorial belly of the world from Malaya (the long fingernail of China) to India the great subcontinent to Arabia to
Morocco to the selfsame deserts and jungles of Mexico and over the waves to Polynesia to mystic Siam of the Yellow Robe and on
around, on around, so that you hear the same mournful wail by the rotted walls of Cadiz, Spain, that you hear 12,000 miles around in
the depths of Benares the Capital of the World. These people were unmistakably Indians and were not at all like the Pedros and
Panchos of silly civilized American lore-they had high cheekbones, and slanted f eyes, and soft ways; they were not fools, they were not
clowns; they were great, grave Indians and they were the source of mankind and the fathers of it. The waves are Chinese, but the earth
is an Indian thing. As essential as rocks in the desert are they in the desert of "history." And they knew this when we passed, ostensibly
self-important moneybag Americans on a lark in their land; they knew who was the father and who was the son of antique life on earth,
and made no comment. For when destruction comes to the world of "history" and the Apocalypse of the Fellahin returns once more as
so many times before, people will still stare with the same eyes from the caves of Mexico as well as from the caves of Bali, where it all
began and where Adam was suckled and taught to know. These were my growing thoughts as I drove the car into the hot, sunbaked
town of Gregoria."
57. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle postulates that the measurement of position disturbs the observed particle's momentum
because the universe is an organic collection of statistical possibilities. For example, a snowflake's pattern or the beating of a butterfly'
s wings, which are made possible and actualized by millions of variables passing through stable mechanisms into a virtual
calculability. No method can produce actual calculability.
58. Schopenhauer and metaphysicality. See 52.
59. Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time (1927). A seminal work of twentieth-century thought, this book questions the meaning of
being: what does is mean? This is the fundamental ontological study of being as being. All activity is the activity of something. Caring
is the root-or will-of intentional being. Theoretical knowledge is founded on deeply rooted forms of behavior that engage each
situation rather than causing them. All behavioral studies should start with the fact that the subject and object, as well the verb
connecting them and the variables modifying them, are in the world, and our fundamental truth is that we are beings in the world. Earth
is a style of being in the universe that is radically contingent and manifest in the Angst derived from Its essential meaninglessness.
Existence is always potentially absurd. We sentient-sapient beings are the ones for whom being is an issue, in that it shows up and is
recognized by any of us.












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