Trajectory

I recently re-read Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, and it made me think about the current trajectory that we (You and I) are on.  This thought lead me to wonder what Walden would look like if Thoreau was born two hundred years later in 2017 rather than 1817, or perhaps four hundred years later in 2217.

The image of Thoreau wearing cargo shorts, writing on a MacBook is unnerving, the content of what he may have written is alarming!

Walden

Early in May, the oaks, hickories, maples and other trees, just putting out amidst the pine woods around the pond, imparted a brightness like sunshine to the landscape, especially in cloudy days, as if the sun were breaking through mists and shining faintly on the hill-sides here and there.  On the third or fourth of May I saw a loon in the pond, and during the first week of the month I heard the whippoorwill, the brown-thrasher, the veery, the wood-pewee, the chewink, and other birds.  I had heard the wood-thrush long before.  The Phoebe had already come once more and looked in at my door and window, to see if my house was cavern-like enough for her, sustaining herself on humming wings with clinched talons, as if she held by the air, while she surveyed the premises.  The sulphur-like pollen of the pitch-pine soon covered the pond and the stones and rotten wood along the shore, so that you could have collected a barrel-ful.  This is the “sulphur showers” we hear of.  Even in Calidas’ drama of Sacontala, we read of “rills dyed yellow with the golden dust of the lotus.”  And so the seasons went rolling on into summer, as one rambles into higher and higher grass.

This was my first year’s life in the woods completed; and the second year similar to it.  I finally left Walden September 6th, 1847.

Walden Today

Early in May, the oaks, hickories, maples and other trees, just felling down into the pine woods around the pond, imparted a profit like sunshine to the landscape, especially in cloudy days, as if the sun were breaking through the mists and shining faintly on the hill-sides here and there.  On the third or fourth day of May I saw the loon in the pond, and during the first week of the month I heard The Caterpillar, The Deere, The Komatsu, The Husqvarna, The Stihl, and other motors.  I had heard the land surveyors long before.  The portfolio manager had already come once before and looked at my margins, to see if our investment was profitable enough for the shareholders, sustaining themselves like vultures with clinched talons, as they surveyed the market gains.  The oil-soaked sawdust and the corroding banks of the fell-pines soon covered the pond and stones and fresh-cut tree stumps, signs that we could collect dollars by the barrel-ful.  Even in Calidas’ drama of Sacontala, we read of “A stream that eats away the bank, grows foul, and undermines the tree.”  And so the fiscal quarter went rolling into summer, as one rambles into higher and higher net worth.

This was just another venture into the woods, the next would be the same, and again after that.  We quickly moved on from Walden, 170 acres of deforestation.  Biofuel offers gains, and gains wait for no one.

Walden Tomorrow

Early in May, the oaks, hickories, maples and other trees, offer no sign of having ever existed in the pine woods, the imparted brightness from the sunshine to the scorched landscape, especially in clouds of air pollution, as if the sun were baking through smog, and burning the remnants of the hill-sides from here to there.  I am not sure what day it is, I have not seen any signs of aves in a long time, gone is the loon, the whippoorwill, the brown-thrasher, the veery, the wood-pewee, the chewink, and the other birds of which I have heard of long before.  The roaches and worms have already come once more looking in through the rotten floor, to see if my soul was cavern-like enough to sustain themselves on my dying flesh, the heirs of cras, surveying the premises.  The pollen-like sulphur of the fallen-mines polluted the air and covered the stones and rotten wood with fall-out, so that you could have collected a barrel-ful.  This is the “sulphur showers” we hear of.  Even in Calidas’ drama of Sacontala, we read “The mind of age is like a lamp whose oil is running thin; One moment it is shining bright, Then darkness closes in.”  And so the season’s lasting collapse, as one stumbles and falters from the past.

This was the last year of life in the woods departed.  Walden finally left us in the fall.

None of us could possibly know the full cost of our indifference to global warming and idolatry to capital, but among that steep payment surely must be the loss of an aesthetic appreciation for nature and the writers who attempt to capture her magnificence.

Carrot (Co-writer)

Henry David Thoreau

21 Replies to “Trajectory”

  1. This is a really cool idea, Carrot! I think Thoreau would have been (paradoxically considering the tool he would have had to write with NOW vs the tool he had THEN) a more thrifty writer, less self-indulgent, if he were writing today.

    I’ve always loved Thoreau and his ideas informed my life choices, but one day in a business communication class, when I was trying very hard to teach my students that the kind of writing they did for English composition was NOT the kind of writing people do in business. They needed to learn to edit, clarify, simplify. “Remember what Thoreau said…’Simplify! Simplify!'”

    One of my students — a football player who was also bright and funny — raised his hand and said, “Professor, one simplify would have done.”

    Made my whole point right there. Thoreau goes on and on and on and on and if you have the endurance you will arrive at a gem, “Morning is when I’m awake and there is a dawn in me.” But then, students laughed at that, too, and the joke was, “Who’s Don?”

    Maybe if Thoreau had been a writing teacher he’d have written differently, anticipating the bad and off color jokes… Emily Dickinson, too. I could not teach, “We never know how high we are…” without stopping and saying, “OK laugh, it’s funny, then we’ll move on…”

    Still, I go out and tend my five Scarlet Emperor bean plants and I always think of Thoreau ❤ And this might be the wisest thing I've ever read, "Let not to get a living be thy trade, but thy sport. Enjoy the land, but own it not. Through want of enterprise and faith men are where they are, buying and selling, and spending their lives like serfs.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That quote is fantastic…that one sent chills! I was talking to one of my friends about Thoreau recently and she thought that if Thoreau were around today he would be an instagram influencer. That has stuck with me, I could imagine him and Emerson hosting a podcast from their #vanlife!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. YESSSSSS!!!!! BAM. Golden Buzzer. After I hit send, I am sharing this post! Call it Anti-1984 or Consequence of “1984” Or … no matter. Reasons are unreasonable. THIS is SUBSTANCE. Oh DAYUm is this good stuff.

    I was just about to sign off when I saw this. Nice! I’d say “excellent” though the Walden of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure have already cornered that market. 🙂

    I can see this in a 3-part film. Yes to this post. Yes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is a brilliant way of bringing us to the abrupt realisation of the change in our landscape, values and prosperity. How often do we ‘travel’ somewhere beautiful and somehow manage to avoid (ignore) the missing trees or the silted valley – we somehow reminisce and imagine it looks like it should look – whole and natural. Golly, to project me to the present – the noise, machinery. Harsh reality. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved this piece. As an alumni of consumer psychology and a keen poetry writer, I’ve aaaalways wanted to create pieces like this to inspire readers to see the nature beyond the capitalist bubble. Loved it, thanks for the read

    Liked by 1 person

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