ENGL 40761 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Henry David Thoreau

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7 May 2017
School
Department
Tuesday: discussing Bhagavad Gita & Thoreau as a yogi
o Thoreau defines karmayoga end of Bean field chapter - “the true
husbandmen…also.”
o No concern for what will come next, be in the moment, relinquish fruits of
your actions, don’t worry
The Ponds
To what does Thoreau compare Walden?
o An eye “ A Lake is a landscape’s…”
Similar to mirror comparison
Perceived, and perceive ourselves by it
o White pond, Flint’s pond, & other bodies of water
Walden is superior in its purity - can’t find a more “awake” body of
water
o A well already dug - “walled-in” pond
Ultimate provider of water, knowledge
Very deep
Self-contained (like Thoreau)
Independence vs rejection of society? Consider Emerson’s
“Self-Reliance”
Deepness important, has an entire ecosystem within self &
is within a larger ecosystem, can and should flourish on its
own
Contrast between shallow & self-contained, which may
need to be supplemented - Walden can be & exist in itself
Walden as symbol of intuition - dig deep in self and learn
things more purely than from external communication
o A person - lips of the lake, the eye passage, dimples, breast, etc
Walden’s ability to do things analogous to what people can do
o A mirror “In such a day, in september…”
Completely impervious
Reflects back your own imperfections, true vision of one’s self
o A hermit “reserved and austere
Pond as the truly awake person
Separate and pure
o Crystals (end of chapter)
Lots of value, precious
Purity & transparency connected
Compare with mirror - reflective vs. transparent
Walden as a character- the person who is completely & purely awake
All these comparisons build on each other - perceptual images of Walden (eye,
mirror, crystal)
“Village in a pipe” - Thoreau horrified that local villagers may pipe Walden into
town
o Disrespecting the purity of the pond - capable of revealing our character,
why use it to clean dishes?
o Compared to Ganges - believes that Walden’s ice has reached India
(Thoreau not happy with this, they’re not worthy, haven’t gotten to know
Walden)
The pond is itself unchanged, same as in his youth - the change is in Thoreau -
pond is forever young, unblemished
o Walden is the purest thought, eternal truth
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