6 Followers
1 Following
spoko

spoko

Currently reading

The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia
David E. Hoffman
The Master and Margarita
Mikhail Bulgakov, Diana Burgin, Katherine Tiernan O'Connor
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
Arun Gandhi, Marshall B. Rosenberg
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Eric Metaxas, Timothy Keller
Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954-63
Taylor Branch
The Path to Power
Robert A. Caro
The Nature of Nebraska: Ecology and Biodiversity
Paul A. Johnsgard
Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
Robin D.G. Kelley
Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese
Walden - Henry David Thoreau

I vacillated as I read this. I was often engrossed in Thoreau's twin urges—to simplicity, and to presence in each moment within nature. But I was repelled by his twin delusions—that the poorer a person is, the happier he must be, and that Thoreau himself was aware of the One True Way to live. He spends an awful lot of time disparaging the common actions & manners of virtually every human being other than himself. And over & over again he valorizes poverty, in a way that makes one doubt he's ever actually experienced it.

 

But after all, those are mostly just faults in the author's voice, and they're more than outweighed by the moments of clarity and presence that suffuse the book. I remembered a lot of the quotes, of course—"In wildness is the preservation of the world", "If you have built castles in the air...", "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer", etc.—but to come across them again in context was to encounter them as new. There's a richness and texture to Thoreau's philosophy that's really quite gorgeous. I was glad to spend time there.