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!
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.
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.
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.