Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 317: Emerson and Thoreau...

Another day of sifting, mixing and plastering. All done outside. By myself.


Mostly thinking: "what the hell was I thinking trying to build this thing? This is a project for a gaggle of twenty something hippies--not for gordito nearly fifty somethings". Which led me to thinking about Renaissance men (and women). How I am definitely not one. I've met a few folks who might quality for that title: Ian Woofenden comes to mind. He is quite the capable fella--good with a tool and as good with a pen. Building this Hobbit House is my way of trying to achieve that sort of status.

Failing at it. Miserably.

But I can do grunt work. In fact, I rather enjoy it. Sifting clay through a metal screen for four hours gets a person to thinking. Thinking about NOT being a Renaissance Man. And thinking that Thoreau certainly was one. Which leads me to Thoreau's landlord and mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I think secretly, Ralph Waldo wanted to be like Thoreau. But, like me, he lacked the coordination, talent and tenacity to be like him. Unlike me, Emerson had an inheritance that took care of him for the rest of his life (he married up---the wife died---Emerson went on to a life of leisure and learning). Emerson could certainly talk the talk; his book Nature could be argued as the very beginning of the American Environmental Movement. Emerson was still too soft and academic to actually live a Walden type life. No four hour walks for Ralph--he'd rather take the train.

Nearly every night for the last year I've been reading Thoreau. He has become much like a devotional to me. Such a brilliant arrogant man! Good with his hands; good with the pen. My hero!


greentangle said...

Glad you've become a Thoreau fan. I've always almost completely shared his ideas but knew I couldn't live up to him/them in practice.

I'm about 3/4 through rereading Fool's Progress--another guy I shared lots of ideas with, and at this point even the working half a year in a park lifestyle, but I wouldn't really want to live Ed's life. Quite a good book though.

Allan Stellar said...


Actually, you were my inspiration to delve a bit deeper into Thoreau. And I'm glad I did. I also liked the section in Dark Green Religion that points out Thoreau's earth centered religious thinking.

As for Fool's Progress? Not a fat masterpiece...but certainly a whole lot of fun.

And I think your national park lifestyle seems to suit you.