American Culture as Collage
Class Notes 2-7-17
Walden Chapters 4 & 5
• He was at Walden Pond from 1845-47; 28-30 years old
• Structured Walden so that successive chapters seem to oppose each other (Sounds
Chapter 4: Sounds
Guiding Question: What activity does Thoreau posit as more important than reading?
• Mindfulness & awareness of your surroundings
o “Follow your genius closely enough, and it will not fail to show you a fresh
prospect every hour” (92)
• Thoreau’s hierarchy of states of being that leads one towards
b. Seeing: active engagement in what is going on, yet it is still perceptual. Seeing
means being able to draw the deepest lessons out of our experiences.
c. Contemplation: Highest state of being. Requires letting go of everything but
your own awareness. Thoreau saw this as a serious endeavor that is even
more important than seeing and reading.
• “Will you be a reader, a student merely, or a seer?” (91)
Chapter 5: Solitude
Guiding Question: Why is Thoreau not lonely at Walden Pond?
• Society extends to include the elements of nature and we can have the same kind of
social interactions with things that are not human.
• There is no such thing as loneliness because he has identified and connected with
o “I am no more lonely than the loon in the pond that laughs so loud, or than
Walden Pond itself” (112)
• When we are engaged in any part of his three-part hierarchy, we are not lone