Thoreau: False Romantic

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"The animal merely makes a bed, which he warms with his body, in a sheltered place; but man, having discovered fire, boxes up some air in a spacious apartment, and warms that, instead of robbing himself, makes that his bed, in which he can move about divested of more cumbrous clothing, maintain a kind of summer in the midst of winter, and by means of windows even admit the light, and with a lamp lengthen out the day. Thus he goes a step or two beyond instinct, and saves a little time for the fine arts."


Okay, this is from the guy who has been going on and on and on and on about how much better living simply in nature is, and spurning society. When he talked about how bad the railroad was, did he not get that the main point of it was to speed up the transit time for both people and materials, and thus save a LOT of time for the fine arts? Much of the stuff he does, which other people did not do themselves is avoided so that one might save TIME. By not spending 4 hours wandering about the forest foraging for food, and just buying some at the market, he could save plenty of time. By buying wood, rather than gathering it himself, he could likewise save time. If he got a DVR, so that he could fast-forward through commercials, he could AGAIN, save time. In this passage, in a book that is more or less anti-technology, he pretty much praises one of the biggest, most obvious points of technology.

I love irony. 


Gladys Mares said:

I totally agree. I think throughout the chapters we made he made some really good commentary on our society but I think he was somewhat arrogant as well. I think he contradicts himself often though... He praises the railroad workers but then talks about how they are helping people become less resourceful. Interesting man.

DavidWilbanks Author Profile Page said:

Yeah, definately. This said, I do find him interesting to read, if a bit long-winded at times. I like the idea that we should, ideally, be capable of self-suficiency, but disagree with it being in some way superior to live it. I can totally change the oil on my car, and I'm glad I can, but I prefer to just pay someone to do it, while I'm buying groceries, becasue it's more convenient. Just because I'm capable of doing it doesn't mean it makes sense to do it....I gotta save time for fine arts. Then again, by the end of Walden he does point out, that living in the forest is just something to do for a bit, rather than the thing to do. So in this way, he gets a little less annoying.

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