Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement found in the eastern United States and developed in the late 1820s and 1830s. Transcendentalists are strong believers in the power of the individual. It came about as a reaction to protest against the general state of intellectualism and spirituality of the time and focuses primarily on personal freedom and empiricism – which philosophically speaking is the knowledge that comes only or primarily from sensory experiences.
Henry David Thoreau, one of the best known Transcendentalists, said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Prompt: Describe what Henry David Thoreau learned from his experience “On Walden’s Pond.” You have 70 minutes.
In our American Literature class we learned that Thoreau went into the woods in 1845. He lived in a simple cabin for two years and two months which he built on Walden Pond. I suppose he was an environmentalist before his time. But the pond isn’t really a pond at all. Near Concord, Massachusetts, this pond was really a lake surrounded by a forest. If he’s so smart, wouldn’t he know the difference?
I mean, that whole Transcendentalist movement was adopted by Harvard University. Aren’t they suppose to be some of the smartest people alive? This whole-leaving-society-to-find-yourself-in- nature is kinda crazy – like Ted Kaczynski crazy. Ted was a smart Harvard man and didn’t like the way society was going. He built a “little cabin in the woods” like the song says and look what he did…
Ted Kaczynski was either crazy before he left or after he set up shop in his make-shift home. Without much socialization, I think I would go crazy, too! No fashion magazines? No Pinterest? No telephone? No Netflix? I mean, how would one exist? They are both nuts.
And I guess that what they were eating a lot of, too: nuts. I bet they both had to fight with squirrels over them during the winter. At least Thoreau went up to his “little cabin in the woods” to commune with nature. My mother told me in confidence, but I am sharing with you now, that my grandmother went to Woodstock in the 1960s to commune ‘au natural’. Doesn’t that mean being natural – like where the word nature comes from? So, my granny was a naturalist, too.
I don’t think Kaczynski had a pond, though. At least Thoreau could have caught and cooked fish. Since he wanted to learn more through nature, he probably learned how to clean the fish he caught and maybe he had some special recipes he could use to make each fish dish different.
The clock says I have 12 more minutes.
How many ways can you bake fish over an open fire? And what vegetables are you eating? Dandelions? Ugh! So much for learning something new and different. I’d be learning that I didn’t like dandelions. Now there’s a self-taught lesson.
I might like to take a vacation for a day without company but over two years? No, thank you. I’d get homesick without my family like in the movie “Home Alone.” Kevin eventually missed his family although he had to learn that the hard way. Maybe Thoreau was also writing about what he might miss and what he didn’t miss. I didn’t get to read all of it because I was at gymnastics really late all week because region finals are next month and I…