Famous Thoreau Quotes

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Thoreau demonstrated similar concern, famously writing in Walden that “we are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.
Cal Newport (Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World)
Chastity and moral purity were qualities McCandless mulled over long and often. Indeed, one of the books found in the bus with his remains was a collection of stories that included Tol¬stoy’s “The Kreutzer Sonata,” in which the nobleman-turned-ascetic denounces “the demands of the flesh.” Several such passages are starred and highlighted in the dog-eared text, the margins filled with cryptic notes printed in McCandless’s distinc¬tive hand. And in the chapter on “Higher Laws” in Thoreau’s Walden, a copy of which was also discovered in the bus, McCand¬less circled “Chastity is the flowering of man; and what are called Genius, Heroism, Holiness, and the like, are but various fruits which succeed it.” We Americans are titillated by sex, obsessed by it, horrified by it. When an apparently healthy person, especially a healthy young man, elects to forgo the enticements of the flesh, it shocks us, and we leer. Suspicions are aroused. McCandless’s apparent sexual innocence, however, is a corol¬lary of a personality type that our culture purports to admire, at least in the case of its more famous adherents. His ambivalence toward sex echoes that of celebrated others who embraced wilderness with single-minded passion—Thoreau (who was a lifelong virgin) and the naturalist John Muir, most prominently— to say nothing of countless lesser-known pilgrims, seekers, mis¬fits, and adventurers. Like not a few of those seduced by the wild, McCandless seems to have been driven by a variety of lust that supplanted sexual desire. His yearning, in a sense, was too pow¬erful to be quenched by human contact. McCandless may have been tempted by the succor offered by women, but it paled beside the prospect of rough congress with nature, with the cosmos it¬self. And thus was he drawn north, to Alaska.
Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild)
[Thoreau's] famous night in jail took place about halfway through his stay in the cabin on Emerson's woodlot at Walden Pond. His two-year stint in the small cabin he built himself is often portrayed as a monastic retreat from the world of human affairs into the world of nautre, though he went back to town to eat with and talk to friends and family and to pick up money doing odd jobs that didn't fit into Walden's narrative. He went to jail both because the town jailer ran into him while he was getting his shoe mended and because he felt passionately enough about national affairs to refuse to pay his tax. To be in the woods was not to be out of society or politics.
Rebecca Solnit (Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics)
Henry David Thoreau, Susan B. Anthony, W. E. B. DuBois, and Lyndon B. Johnson are just a few of the famous Americans who taught. They resisted the fantasy of educators as saints or saviors, and understood teaching as a job in which the potential for children’s intellectual transcendence and social mobility, though always present, is limited by real-world concerns such as poor training, low pay, inadequate supplies, inept administration, and impoverished students and families. These teachers’ stories, and those of less well-known teachers, propel this history forward and help us understand why American teaching has evolved into such a peculiar profession, one attacked and admired in equal proportion.
Dana Goldstein (The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession)
As Thoreau implied, telegraphy made relevance irrelevant. The abundant flow of information had very little or nothing to do with those to whom it was addressed; that is, with any social or intellectual context in which their lives were embedded. Coleridge’s famous line about water everywhere without a drop to drink may serve as a metaphor of a decontextualized information environment: In a sea of information, there was very little of it to use.
Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business)
In the 1854 classic Walden, Henry David Thoreau famously wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” How a recluse living in a cabin on a pond could know this was never made clear, and the mass of men beg to differ.
Steven Pinker (Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress)
Thoreau went to Walden Pond to conduct his famous two-year experiment in simple living in large part so that he could refine his philosophy of life and thereby avoid misliving: A primary motive in going to Walden, he tells us, was his fear that he would, “when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
William B. Irvine (A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy)
Evidence-free pronouncements about the misery of mankind are an occupational hazard of the social critic. In the 1854 classic Walden, Henry David Thoreau famously wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” How a recluse living in a cabin on a pond could know this was never made clear, and the mass of men beg to differ.
Steven Pinker (Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress)
Even T. S. Eliot’s famous 1915 poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock—in which he laments the need to “prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet”—seems a cri de coeur about the new demands of self-presentation. While poets of the previous century had wandered lonely as a cloud through the countryside (Wordsworth, in 1802) or repaired in solitude to Walden Pond (Thoreau, in 1845), Eliot’s Prufrock mostly worries about being looked at by “eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase” and pin you, wriggling, to a wall.
Susan Cain (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking)
3 He seems to have regarded agriculture as the business most conducive to moral and physical health. He thought "if the leadings of the Spirit were more attended to, more people would be engaged in the sweet employment of husbandry, where labor is agreeable and healthful." He does not condemn the honest acquisition of wealth in other business free from oppression; even "merchandising," he thought, might be carried on innocently and in pure reason. Christ does not forbid the laying up of a needful support for family and friends; the command is, "Lay not up for YOURSELVES treasures on earth." From his little farm on the Rancocas he looked out with a mingled feeling of wonder and sorrow upon the hurry and unrest of the world; and especially was he pained to see luxury and extravagance overgrowing the early plainness and simplicity of his own religious society. He regarded the merely rich man with unfeigned pity. With nothing of his scorn he had all of Thoreau's commiseration, for people who went about bowed down with the weight of broad acres and great houses on their backs.
Benjamin Franklin (The Complete Harvard Classics - ALL 71 Volumes: The Five Foot Shelf & The Shelf of Fiction: The Famous Anthology of the Greatest Works of World Literature)
Thoreau famously said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,
J.B. Glossinger (The Sacred 6: The Simple Step-by-Step Process for Focusing Your Attention and Recovering Your Dreams)
There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root," Henry David Thoreau famously remarked. Conventional approaches that seek to remedy many of our social problems are often only hacking away at the "branches of evil." Every time we address a social issue by making a place more livable, such as through charitable acts or increasing the availability of social services, society's wealth invariably increases; as a result, those who are able to profit from land eventually stand to remove more wealth from society at the expense of those who are not.
Martin Adams (Land: A New Paradigm for a Thriving World)
Over a hundred years earlier, Thoreau demonstrated similar concern, famously writing in Walden that “we are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.
Cal Newport (Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World)
The animal merely makes a bed, which he warms with his body in a sheltered place; but man, having discovered fire, boxes up some air in a spacious apartment, and warms that, instead of robbing himself, makes that his bed, in which he can move about divested of more cumbrous clothing, maintain a kind of summer in the midst of winter, and by means of windows even admit the light and with a lamp lengthen out the day. ― Henry David Thoreau
Darleen Mitchell (The Best Book of Inspirational Quotes: 958 Motivational and Inspirational Quotations of Wisdom from Famous People about Life, Love and Much More (Inspirational Quotes Book))
In July, Thoreau moved into the cabin where he then lived for the next two years. In the book Walden, he wrote about this experience, famously describing his motivation as follows: “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.
Cal Newport (Digital Minimalism: On Living Better with Less Technology)
So your only hope is among the PACIFISTS or PEACEFUL ANARCHISTS. They say we can only improve the world by improving ourselves and hoping others copy us. This means not fighting anyone, giving away money and either living on the free gifts of others or on the work of our own hands. Buddha, Jesus, and Saint Francis took this path and in this century Prince Kropotkin, Count Leo Tolstoï and an American bachelor farmer-author called Thoreau. The movement attracts a lot of harmless aristocrats and writers. They annoy governments by refusing to pay taxes they think evil—which is most of them, since armies and weapons are what taxes mainly pay for. However, the police only imprison and flog ordinary Pacifists. The admirers of the famous ones keep them out of serious trouble. When you go into politics, Bell, be sure to become a Pacifist Anarchist. People will love you.
Alasdair Gray (Poor Things: A Novel)
Carol built her cabin in the wilderness for many of the same reasons as Thoreau, who went to the woods “to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I come to die, discover that I had not lived.” Like Thoreau, Carol was a student of nature and a geographical extension of the wilderness that surrounded her. Both explored a life stripped down to its essentials. They wanted “to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” Thoreau believed wilderness provided a necessary counterbalance to the materialism and urbanization of industrialized America. It was a place of self-renewal and contact with the raw material of life. “In wildness is the preservation of the world,” he famously wrote. Thoreau was among the first to advocate for protecting America’s vanishing wildlands, proposing that the nation formally preserve “a certain sample of wild nature . . . a network of national preserves in which the bear and the panther may still exist and not be civilized off the face of the earth.” Wilderness preserves could provide a perpetual frontier to keep overindustrialized Americans in contact with the primitive honesty of the woods. In 1872—the same year that Tom and Andy founded Carnegie Steel—America designated its first national park: over two million acres in northwest Wyoming were set aside as Yellowstone National Park. A second national park soon followed, thanks to the inspiration of Sierra Club founder John Muir. He so loved the Sierra that he proposed a fifteen-hundred-square-mile park around Yosemite Valley and spent decades fighting for it. When Yosemite National Park was finally signed into law in 1890, Muir
Will Harlan (Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island)