Saturday, February 27, 2010

If Thoreau Had a Blog - "will not any endeavor to cure the brain-rot"

A Juneau friend has lent me a book of poetry edited by Robert Bly.  I've never been particularly attracted to Bly, but there are a lot of poems by different poets in this book.  The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart is subtitled "Poems for Men."  Except this piece by Thoreau is prose.

And I can't find, in the book, where this piece is from.  There's a copyright section at the end, but I guess this is old enough that the rights were public.  Fortunately, today, unlike 1992 when the book was published, I can easily find the source through Google.  It's little, but cumulative, issues like this, that I think have soured me on Bly.   In any case, Google tells me this is from the conclusion of Walden Pond.  So you can read what I left out, plus the rest of Waldon Pond at the link if you choose.

I fear chiefly lest my expression may not be extravagant enough, may not wander far enough beyond the narrow limits of my daily experience, so as to be adequate to the truth of which I have been convinced. Extra vagance! it depends on how you are yarded. . .
I desire to speak somewhere without bounds; like a man in a waking moment, to men in their waking moments; for I am convinced that I cannot exaggerate enough even to lay the foundation of a true expression. Who that has heard a strain of music feared then lest he should speak extravagantly any more forever?
Why level downward to our dullest perception always, and praise that as common sense? The commonest sense is the sense of men asleep, which they express by snoring. Sometimes we are inclined to class those who are once-and-a-half-witted with the half-witted, because we appreciate only a third part of their wit. Some would find fault with the morning red, if they ever got up early enough. "They pretend," as I hear, "that the verses of Kabir have four different senses; illusion, spirit, intellect, and the exoteric doctrine of the Vedas"; but in this part of the world it is considered a ground for complaint if a man's writings admit of more than one interpretation. While England endeavors to cure the potato-rot, will not any endeavor to cure the brain-rot, which prevails so much more widely and fatally?

Would this Thoreau's blog have any readers today?  How would he have written this today?  Would he think, perhaps that today we have taken his call for extravagance a bit too far?  Or not far enough?   I'm sure he would still be railing against the limits of common sense and brain-rot. 

From Boloji:  

Six hundred years ago Kabir was born in India in 1398 AD. He lived for 120 years and is said to have relinquished his body in 1518. This period is also said to be the beginning of Bhakti Movement in India.

A weaver by profession, Kabir ranks among the world's greatest poets. Back home in India, he is perhaps the most quoted author. The Holy Guru Granth Sahib contains over 500 verses by Kabir. The Sikh community in particular and others who follow the Holy Granth, hold Kabir in the same reverence as the other ten Gurus.

Kabir openly criticized all sects and gave a new direction to the Indian philosophy. This is due to his straight forward approach that has a universal appeal. It is for this reason that Kabir is held in high esteem all over the world. To call Kabir a universal Guru is not an over exaggeration. To me personally, the very name Kabir means Guru's Grace. 

And from Sacred-Texts:

The Vedas

There are four Vedas, the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. The Vedas are the primary texts of Hinduism. They also had a vast influence on Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Traditionally the text of the Vedas was coeval with the universe. Scholars have determined that the Rig Veda, the oldest of the four Vedas, was composed about 1500 B.C., and codified about 600 B.C. It is unknown when it was finally committed to writing, but this probably was at some point after 300 B.C.
The Vedas contain hymns, incantations, and rituals from ancient India. Along with the Book of the Dead, the Enuma Elish, the I Ching, and the Avesta, they are among the most ancient religious texts still in existence. Besides their spiritual value, they also give a unique view of everyday life in India four thousand years ago. The Vedas are also the most ancient extensive texts in an Indo-European language, and as such are invaluable in the study of comparative linguistics.


  1. We're reading Walden in English class and I couldn't resist commenting. I really don't like Walden, but I think Thoreau's blog, were he to have one today, would attract many followers, simply because he's so radical and likes to state controversial opinions blatantly.

  2. man is still man, this is a timeless entity while here,even when change occurs as it has done and will continue,the basic needs and wants love and hardships all remain, mens minds must be educated as to his world and its past,our ideas and emotions are timeless,only our surroundings change. we must listen to the words of Thoreau, his teachings are a timeless education for man to live by, to understand and reflect upon our actions to make ourselves better. michael jameson


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