maanantaina, tammikuuta 23, 2006

Loputkin Thoreaut

Tässä loppu yksinäisyyden historiaa käsittelevään gradututkielmaan aiotusta Henry Thoreauta käsittelevästä luvusta. Kuten kärsivällinen lukija huomaa, teksti jää ihan absoluuttisestikin kesken. Ehkä osittain siitä syystä, että analyysi tuntuu siitä harppaavan liiaksi aiemmasta poikkeavaan suuntaan (herranen sentään, tekstin dekonstruktionistiseen lähilukuun!), mutta myös siitä syystä, että aika loppui kesken, kun piti saada valmistuttua kevään aikana.

Ensi kerralla sitten taas ihan jotain muuta. Jos tutkielmani Neljänsadan vuoden yksinäisyys jotakuta kiinnostaa, sitä saanee kaukolainalla Tampereen yliopiston kirjastosta. On ollut hiukan puhetta, että siitä voisi ilmestyä painettu versio, mutta aika paljon saa vettä virrata myllyn alitse ennen kuin se tapahtuu.

8.4. Paluu sivilisaatioon

Thoreau palaa sivilisaatioon kahden vuoden Waldenin rannalla elämisen jälkeen. Hän kirjoittaa paluustaan toteavasti teoksensa alussa ja lopussa:

Asuin siellä [Waldenissa - JN] kaksi vuotta ja kaksi kuukautta. Nykyisin oleilen jälleen sivistyksen parissa. (Thoreau 1854/1974, 5)

Tällainen oli kokonaisuudessaan ensimmäinen metsässä viettämäni vuosi, ja toinen oli samanlainen kuin ensimmäinen. Lopullisesti lähdin Waldenista syyskuun kuudentena päivänä 1847. (sama, 293)

Kysymykset heräävät: Jos Thoreau kerran oli niin onnellinen majassaan lammen rannalla, miksi hän ylipäätään lähti takaisin? Voi ajatella - ja ehkä niin onkin oikein -, että Thoreaun oleilu Waldenissa oli pelkkä koe (pystyykö ihminen asumaan yksinäisyydessä ja vain välttämättömät tarpeet tyydyttäneenä). Toisaalla Thoreau antaa edellä lainaamieni kohtien lisäksi selityksen, joka herättää lisäkysymyksiä:

Lähdin metsästä pois yhtä pätevistä syistä kuin olin sinne tullutkin. Kenties minusta tuntui, että minulla on elettävänäni monta eri elämää, niin etten voinut varata enempää aikaa tätä yhtä varten. (sama, 297)

Peck (1990, 111-2) ehdottaa, että Walden-lampi on Thoreaulle ajan ja luonnon kiertokulun symboli ja että "voi aina kuvitella aivan sen takana piilevän toisen Waldenin, toisen Waldeniksi kutsutun havainnon kategorian, eri tavalla ja täydemmin muotoillun"[1] (sama, 112). Thoreaun ajatus ajan kiertokulusta näyttäisi Peckin mukaan liittyvän ainoastaan luontoon. Kuitenkin Thoreau kirjoittaa tavalla, joka antaa olettaa, että toisto liittyy myös yhteiskuntaan ja inhimillisiin asioihin. Aivan sen jälkeen, mitä edellä siteerasin, Thoreau nimittäin sanoo:

On merkillistä, kuinka helposti me huomaamattamme totumme kulkemaan määrättyä reittiä ja tallaamme itsellemme polun. En ollut elänyt viikkoakaan metsässä, kun jalkani jo olivat tehneet polun oveltani lammen rantaan, ja vaikka on kulunut viisi tai kuusi vuotta siitä, kun astelin sitä pitkin, on se vieläkin selvästi näkyvissä. [---] Kuinka kuluneita ja tomuisia maailman maantiet [---] pakostakin ovat, kuinka syviä perinnäistapojen ja sovinnaisuuden urat! (Thoreau 1854/1974, 297)

Thoreau on siis huomannut, että hän ei Waldenin rannallakaan kykene välttämään perinnäistapoja: hän kulkee aina samaa reittiä lammen rannalle. Siksi hän lähtee: paluu sivilisaatioon on tässä vaiheessa jo pakoa lammen rannalla syntyneistä perinnäistavoista. Voiko ajatella, että Waldenin rannalle on jo alkanut kehittyä pieni sivilisaatio, jossa tavat ja sovinnaisuus vallitsevat?

Peck (1990, 134-158) käyttää paljon tilaa analysoidakseen Waldenin lukua Aikaisempia asukkaita ja talvisia vieraita. Luku on jaettu kahteen osaan, joista aiempi on Peckin analyysin kannalta erityisen tärkeä. Luvun alkuosassa Thoreau kertoo kylästä, joka aiemmin oli ollut Waldenin rannalla, mutta joka nyt oli raunioitunut. Thoreau kirjoittaa:

Ihmisseuraa saadakseni oli minun pakko manata henkiin näitten metsien aikaisemmat asukkaat. Monien kaupunkilaisten muistissa oli vielä aika, jolloin taloni lähistöllä kulkevalla tiellä kajahteli nauru ja puhe ja jolloin sitä reunustavat metsät olivat pienten puutarhojen ja asumusten palstoittamia, vaikka seutu olikin silloin vielä metsäisempää kuin nyt. (Thoreau 1854/1974, 239)

Thoreau kuvailee tämän jälkeen itsensä ja concordilaisten muistikuvien perusteella paikalla eläneiden ihmisten usein traagista elämää (sama, 239-46). Peckin mukaan näiden ihmisten elämäntarinoiden kuvaaminen on myös Thoreaun itsensä kuvaamista (Peck 1990, 155): ne ovat Thoreaun monien identiteettien ilmentymiä.[2]

Tämä käsitys lähtökohtanaan Peck kehittelee ajatuksen, jonka mukaan Thoreaun lähtö Waldenin rannalta takaisin sivilisaatioon on "pelkoa siitä, että Thoreaun oma asuttaminen saattaisi epäonnistua" (sama, 141). Peck kirjoittaa, että

mä pelko pitää sisällään myös ymmärryksen [---] siitä, että hänen [Thoreaun - JN] yritystään asua Waldenin rannalla ei voi lopultakaan pitää irrallaan laajemmasta inhimillisestä 'asuttamisen' pyrkimyksestä. (sama)

Peckin mukaan Thoreau lähtee takaisin sivilisaatioon, koska hän on huomannut, että hänen(kään) asumuksensa ei ole kestävä (sama, 155).[3] Ajatusta voi kehitellä eteenpäin: Thoreau tajuaa, että hänen asumuksensa on yhtälailla sivilisaatiota eikä poikkea mitenkään kaupungeista ja kylistä, joita hän on paennut metsäänsä.

Ristiriita on kuitenkin syvemmällä eikä se välttämättä ole selitettävissä Thoreaun psyykkisen kehityksen avulla. Peckin mukaan Thoreau pyrkii päiväkirjassaan sekä eroon tieteellisistä rajoituksista että liittämään tieteellisiä merkityksiä näkemiinsä luonnonilmiöihin. Tiede on Thoreaulle toisaalta "murha" (sama, 63) - se on vastakkainen runouden pyrkimyksille, jotka pyrkivät kokonaisuuden luomiseen, kun tiede taas pyrkii erittelemällä tuhoamaan kohteensa -, toisaalta se on ennalta olemassaolevien kategorioiden lähde (sama, 82-3). Thoreaun mukaan asioiden väliset suhteet havaitaan vain jo hyväksyttyjen kategorioiden perusteella: havaitsijan täytyy tuntea mainitut suhteet jo entuudestaan. Thoreau kirjoittaa päiväkirjassaan: "Näitä ihanuuksia ei näe, seisoi sitten kukkulalla tai laaksossa, ellei ole valmistautunut näkemään niitä. Maan kauneus vastaa täydellisesti vaatimuksiisi ja arvostukseesi." (sit. sama, 83). Thoreau, joka oli kyvykäs botanisti (sama, 176, n36), kertoo vielä, että hän on valmistautunut löytämään jonkin uuden lajin kenties jo vuosi etukäteen (sama).

Perustuuko Walden siis kahden erilaisen diskurssin väliselle kamppailulle? Taistelevatko siinä tieteellinen - kategorinen mielikuvitus, kuten Peck sitä kutsuu (sama, 81) - ja runouden suhde maailmaan ja luontoon?[4] Walden tuntuisi nopeasti ajatellen kuuluvan ennemminkin jälkimmäiseen kategoriaan, mutta kuuluisa on kertomus muurahaisista, joiden taistelua Thoreau tarkkailee kuin mikäkin hyönteistieteilijä (Thoreau 1854/1974, 215-8).

Walden kuuluu samanaikaisesti siis kahteen erilaiseen diskurssiin: se on sekä runoutta että tieteellistä havainnointia. Thoreau ajautuu toisin sanoen ristiriitaan kahtaalla: ensiksi kritisoidessaan tiedettä, sitten käyttäessään sitä selvästi hyväkseen luomistyössään.

8.5. Luja ja pettävä pohja

Ristiriita on syvemmällä Waldenissa tekstinä. Walter Benn Michaels pitää vuonna 1977 ilmestyneessä artikkelissaan "Walden's False Bottoms" Waldenia olennaisesti ristiriitaisena tekstinä. Michaels sanoo, ettei tähän ristiriitaisuuteen ole kiinnitetty tarpeeksi huomiota. Waldenia on hänen mukaansa joko kuvattu häiriintyneen (disordered) tekijän kokonaisuuteen pyrkiväksi ilmaisuksi tai sitä on pidetty runona, jolloin sen ristiriitaisuus uuskritiikin periaatteita noudattaen on voitu hyväksyä, tai on kiinnitetty huomiota vain sen tyyliin, jolloin sen tapa sanoa asiat on tärkeämpää kuin se, mitä se sanoo (Michaels 1977, 132-4)[5].

[1]Peck kirjoittaa toisaalla: (kirjoita jotain havainnon kategoriasta) [hyvä alaviite! - jn]

[2]Peck (1990, 155) listaa: "[---] orjuutettu minä, ahdistettu ja turvaton minä, synnyttävä minä, joka viljelee ja hoitaa [---], yksinäinen minä, tuhoava minä [---], pelastava minä, menetyksiä kärsinyt ja sureva minä, muistava ja kokoava minä, luova minä, minä, jonka on pakko kuolla." Peck jatkaa: "Vaikka osa hänestä [Thoreausta - JN] yrittikin tukahduttaa ne, jotka olivat ennen häntä, toinen osa jää jäljelle ja puhuu Waldenin koko historian puolesta; sen historia on hänen historiansa." (sama)

[3]Oli kulunut jo kymmenen vuotta siitä, kun Thoreau oli jättänyt Waldenin-asumuksensa, kun hän kirjoitti Waldenin luvun aikaisemmista asukkaista. Peck kirjoittaa: "Thoreausta itsestään oli jo tullut aiempi asukas ja hänen omaa menneisyyttään lammen rannalla tämä luku [Aikaisempia asukkaita - JN] eniten käsittelee." (Peck 1990, 155)

[4]Peck huomauttaa, että 1800-luvun puolessavälissä tieteen ja runouden välinen raja oli vielä perin häilyväinen eikä niin selvärajainen kuin nykyään (Peck 1990, 63). Ei siis ole mikään ihme, että Thoreauta on kutsuttu "runoilija-luonnontieteilijäksi", kuten teki vuonna William Ellery Channing vuonna 1873 ilmestyneessä samannimisessä kirjassaan.

[5]Michaels siteeraa Charles Andersonia, jonka mukaan arvostelijat ovat olleet jo kauan yhtä mieltä siitä, että Waldenin arvo piilee "more in its manner than its matter" (Michaels 1977, 133).

2 kommenttia:

Nimetön kirjoitti...

Hei! Luin mielenkiinnolla tekstiäsi Thoreausta! Tunnetko alla olevan by Charles Ives?


V--Thoreau


Thoreau was a great musician, not because he played the flute but
because he did not have to go to Boston to hear "the Symphony."
The rhythm of his prose, were there nothing else, would determine
his value as a composer. He was divinely conscious of the
enthusiasm of Nature, the emotion of her rhythms and the harmony
of her solitude. In this consciousness he sang of the submission
to Nature, the religion of contemplation, and the freedom of
simplicity--a philosophy distinguishing between the complexity of
Nature which teaches freedom, and the complexity of materialism
which teaches slavery. In music, in poetry, in all art, the truth
as one sees it must be given in terms which bear some proportion
to the inspiration. In their greatest moments the inspiration of
both Beethoven and Thoreau express profound truths and deep
sentiment, but the intimate passion of it, the storm and stress
of it, affected Beethoven in such a way that he could not but be
ever showing it and Thoreau that he could not easily expose it.
They were equally imbued with it, but with different results. A
difference in temperament had something to do with this, together
with a difference in the quality of expression between the two
arts. "Who that has heard a strain of music feared lest he would
speak extravagantly forever," says Thoreau. Perhaps music is the
art of speaking extravagantly. Herbert Spencer says that some
men, as for instance Mozart, are so peculiarly sensitive to
emotion...that music is to them but a continuation not only of
the expression but of the actual emotion, though the theory of
some more modern thinkers in the philosophy of art doesn't always
bear this out. However, there is no doubt that in its nature
music is predominantly subjective and tends to subjective
expression, and poetry more objective tending to objective
expression. Hence the poet when his muse calls for a deeper
feeling must invert this order, and he may be reluctant to do so
as these depths often call for an intimate expression which the
physical looks of the words may repel. They tend to reveal the
nakedness of his soul rather than its warmth. It is not a matter
of the relative value of the aspiration, or a difference between
subconsciousness and consciousness but a difference in the arts
themselves; for example, a composer may not shrink from having
the public hear his "love letter in tones," while a poet may feel
sensitive about having everyone read his "letter in words." When
the object of the love is mankind the sensitiveness is changed
only in degree.

But the message of Thoreau, though his fervency may be inconstant
and his human appeal not always direct, is, both in thought and
spirit, as universal as that of any man who ever wrote or sang--
as universal as it is nontemporaneous--as universal as it is free
from the measure of history, as "solitude is free from the
measure of the miles of space that intervene between man and his
fellows." In spite of the fact that Henry James (who knows almost
everything) says that "Thoreau is more than provincial--that he
is parochial," let us repeat that Henry Thoreau, in respect to
thought, sentiment, imagination, and soul, in respect to every
element except that of place of physical being--a thing that
means so much to some--is as universal as any personality in
literature. That he said upon being shown a specimen grass from
Iceland that the same species could be found in Concord is
evidence of his universality, not of his parochialism. He was so
universal that he did not need to travel around the world to
PROVE it. "I have more of God, they more of the road." "It is not
worth while to go around the world to count the cats in
Zanzibar." With Marcus Aurelius, if he had seen the present he
had seen all, from eternity and all time forever.

Thoreau's susceptibility to natural sounds was probably greater
than that of many practical musicians. True, this appeal is
mainly through the sensational element which Herbert Spencer
thinks the predominant beauty of music. Thoreau seems able to
weave from this source some perfect transcendental symphonies.
Strains from the Orient get the best of some of the modern French
music but not of Thoreau. He seems more interested in than
influenced by Oriental philosophy. He admires its ways of
resignation and self-contemplation but he doesn't contemplate
himself in the same way. He often quotes from the Eastern
scriptures passages which were they his own he would probably
omit, i.e., the Vedas say "all intelligences awake with the
morning." This seems unworthy of "accompanying the undulations of
celestial music" found on this same page, in which an "ode to
morning" is sung--"the awakening to newly acquired forces and
aspirations from within to a higher life than we fell asleep
from...for all memorable events transpire in the morning time and
in the morning atmosphere." Thus it is not the whole tone scale
of the Orient but the scale of a Walden morning--"music in single
strains," as Emerson says, which inspired many of the polyphonies
and harmonies that come to us through his poetry. Who can be
forever melancholy "with Aeolian music like this"?

This is but one of many ways in which Thoreau looked to Nature
for his greatest inspirations. In her he found an analogy to the
Fundamental of Transcendentalism. The "innate goodness" of Nature
is or can be a moral influence; Mother Nature, if man will but
let her, will keep him straight--straight spiritually and so
morally and even mentally. If he will take her as a companion,
and teacher, and not as a duty or a creed, she will give him
greater thrills and teach him greater truths than man can give or
teach--she will reveal mysteries that mankind has long concealed.
It was the soul of Nature not natural history that Thoreau was
after. A naturalist's mind is one predominantly scientific, more
interested in the relation of a flower to other flowers than its
relation to any philosophy or anyone's philosophy. A transcendent
love of Nature and writing "Rhus glabra" after sumac doesn't
necessarily make a naturalist. It would seem that although
thorough in observation (not very thorough according to Mr.
Burroughs) and with a keen perception of the specific, a
naturalist--inherently--was exactly what Thoreau was not. He
seems rather to let Nature put him under her microscope than to
hold her under his. He was too fond of Nature to practice
vivisection upon her. He would have found that painful, "for was
he not a part with her?" But he had this trait of a naturalist,
which is usually foreign to poets, even great ones; he observed
acutely even things that did not particularly interest him--a
useful natural gift rather than a virtue.

The study of Nature may tend to make one dogmatic, but the love
of Nature surely does not. Thoreau no more than Emerson could be
said to have compounded doctrines. His thinking was too broad for
that. If Thoreau's was a religion of Nature, as some say,-and by
that they mean that through Nature's influence man is brought to
a deeper contemplation, to a more spiritual self-scrutiny, and
thus closer to God,-it had apparently no definite doctrines. Some
of his theories regarding natural and social phenomena and his
experiments in the art of living are certainly not doctrinal in
form, and if they are in substance it didn't disturb Thoreau and
it needn't us..."In proportion as he simplifies his life the laws
of the universe will appear less complex and solitude will not be
solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have
built castles in the air your work need not be lost; that is
where they should be, now put the foundations under
them."..."Then we will love with the license of a higher order of
beings." Is that a doctrine? Perhaps. At any rate, between the
lines of some such passage as this lie some of the fountain heads
that water the spiritual fields of his philosophy and the seeds
from which they are sown (if indeed his whole philosophy is but
one spiritual garden). His experiments, social and economic, are
a part of its cultivation and for the harvest--and its
transmutation, he trusts to moments of inspiration--"only what is
thought, said, and done at a certain rare coincidence is good."

Thoreau's experiment at Walden was, broadly speaking, one of
these moments. It stands out in the casual and popular opinion as
a kind of adventure--harmless and amusing to some, significant
and important to others; but its significance lies in the fact
that in trying to practice an ideal he prepared his mind so that
it could better bring others "into the Walden-state-of-mind." He
did not ask for a literal approval, or in fact for any approval.
"I would not stand between any man and his genius." He would have
no one adopt his manner of life, unless in doing so he adopts his
own--besides, by that time "I may have found a better one." But
if he preached hard he practiced harder what he preached--harder
than most men. Throughout Walden a text that he is always
pounding out is "Time." Time for inside work out-of-doors;
preferably out-of-doors, "though you perhaps may have some
pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poor house."
Wherever the place--time there must be. Time to show the
unnecessariness of necessities which clog up time. Time to
contemplate the value of man to the universe, of the universe to
man, man's excuse for being. Time FROM the demands of social
conventions. Time FROM too much labor for some, which means too
much to eat, too much to wear, too much material, too much
materialism for others. Time FROM the "hurry and waste of life."
Time FROM the "St. Vitus Dance." BUT, on the other side of the
ledger, time FOR learning that "there is no safety in stupidity
alone." Time FOR introspection. Time FOR reality. Time FOR
expansion. Time FOR practicing the art, of living the art of
living. Thoreau has been criticized for practicing his policy of
expansion by living in a vacuum--but he peopled that vacuum with
a race of beings and established a social order there, surpassing
any of the precepts in social or political history."...for he put
some things behind and passed an invisible boundary; new,
universal, and more liberal laws were around and within him, the
old laws were expanded and interpreted in a more liberal sense
and he lived with the license of a higher order"--a community in
which "God was the only President" and "Thoreau not Webster was
His Orator." It is hard to believe that Thoreau really refused to
believe that there was any other life but his own, though he
probably did think that there was not any other life besides his
own for him. Living for society may not always be best
accomplished by living WITH society. "is there any virtue in a
man's skin that you must touch it?" and the "rubbing of elbows
may not bring men's minds closer together"; or if he were talking
through a "worst seller" (magazine) that "had to put it over" he
might say, "forty thousand souls at a ball game does not,
necessarily, make baseball the highest expression of spiritual
emotion." Thoreau, however, is no cynic, either in character or
thought, though in a side glance at himself, he may have held out
to be one; a "cynic in independence," possibly because of his
rule laid down that "self-culture admits of no compromise."

It is conceivable that though some of his philosophy and a good
deal of his personality, in some of its manifestations, have
outward colors that do not seem to harmonize, the true and
intimate relations they bear each other are not affected. This
peculiarity, frequently seen in his attitude towards social-
economic problems, is perhaps more emphasized in some of his
personal outbursts. "I love my friends very much, but I find that
it is of no use to go to see them. I hate them commonly when I am
near." It is easier to see what he means than it is to forgive
him for saying it. The cause of this apparent lack of harmony
between philosophy and personality, as far as they can be
separated, may have been due to his refusal "to keep the very
delicate balance" which Mr. Van Doren in his "Critical Study of
Thoreau" says "it is necessary for a great and good man to keep
between his public and private lives, between his own personality
and the whole outside universe of personalities." Somehow one
feels that if he had kept this balance he would have lost
"hitting power." Again, it seems that something of the above
depends upon the degree of greatness or goodness. A very great
and especially a very good man has no separate private and public
life. His own personality though not identical with outside
personalities is so clear or can be so clear to them that it
appears identical, and as the world progresses towards its
inevitable perfection this appearance becomes more and more a
reality. For the same reason that all great men now agree, in
principle but not in detail, in so far as words are able to
communicate agreement, on the great fundamental truths. Someone
says: "Be specific--what great fundamentals?" Freedom over
slavery; the natural over the artificial; beauty over ugliness;
the spiritual over the material; the goodness of man; the Godness
of man; have been greater if he hadn't written plays. Some say
that a true composer will never write an opera because a truly
brave man will not take a drink to keep up his courage; which is
not the same thing as saying that Shakespeare is not the greatest
figure in all literature; in fact, it is an attempt to say that
many novels, most operas, all Shakespeares, and all brave men and
women (rum or no rum) are among the noblest blessings with which
God has endowed mankind--because, not being perfect, they are
perfect examples pointing to that perfection which nothing yet
has attained.

Thoreau's mysticism at times throws him into elusive moods--but
an elusiveness held by a thread to something concrete and
specific, for he had too much integrity of mind for any other
kind. In these moments it is easier to follow his thought than to
follow him. Indeed, if he were always easy to follow, after one
had caught up with him, one might find that it was not Thoreau.

It is, however, with no mystic rod that he strikes at
institutional life. Here again he felt the influence of the great
transcendental doctrine of "innate goodness" in human nature--a
reflection of the like in nature; a philosophic part which, by
the way, was a more direct inheritance in Thoreau than in his
brother transcendentalists. For besides what he received from a
native Unitarianism a good part must have descended to him
through his Huguenot blood from the "eighteenth-century French
philosophy." We trace a reason here for his lack of interest in
"the church." For if revealed religion is the path between God
and man's spiritual part--a kind of formal causeway--Thoreau's
highly developed spiritual life felt, apparently unconsciously,
less need of it than most men. But he might have been more
charitable towards those who do need it (and most of us do) if he
had been more conscious of his freedom. Those who look today for
the cause of a seeming deterioration in the influence of the
church may find it in a wider development of this feeling of
Thoreau's; that the need is less because there is more of the
spirit of Christianity in the world today. Another cause for his
attitude towards the church as an institution is one always too
common among "the narrow minds" to have influenced Thoreau. He
could have been more generous. He took the arc for the circle,
the exception for the rule, the solitary bad example for the many
good ones. His persistent emphasis on the value of "example" may
excuse this lower viewpoint. "The silent influence of the example
of one sincere life...has benefited society more than all the
projects devised for its salvation." He has little patience for
the unpracticing preacher. "In some countries a hunting parson is
no uncommon sight. Such a one might make a good shepherd dog but
is far from being a good shepherd." It would have been
interesting to have seen him handle the speculating parson, who
takes a good salary--more per annum than all the disciples had to
sustain their bodies during their whole lives--from a
metropolitan religious corporation for "speculating" on Sunday
about the beauty of poverty, who preaches: "Take no thought (for
your life) what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink nor yet what
ye shall put on...lay not up for yourself treasure upon
earth...take up thy cross and follow me"; who on Monday becomes a
"speculating" disciple of another god, and by questionable
investments, successful enough to get into the "press," seeks to
lay up a treasure of a million dollars for his old age, as if a
million dollars could keep such a man out of the poor-house.
Thoreau might observe that this one good example of Christian
degeneracy undoes all the acts of regeneracy of a thousand humble
five-hundred-dollar country parsons; that it out-influences the
"unconscious influence" of a dozen Dr. Bushnells if there be that
many; that the repentance of this man who did not "fall from
grace" because he never fell into it--that this unnecessary
repentance might save this man's own soul but not necessarily the
souls of the million head-line readers; that repentance would put
this preacher right with the powers that be in this world--and
the next. Thoreau might pass a remark upon this man's intimacy
with God "as if he had a monopoly of the subject"--an intimacy
that perhaps kept him from asking God exactly what his Son meant
by the "camel," the "needle"--to say nothing of the "rich man."
Thoreau might have wondered how this man NAILED DOWN the last
plank in HIS bridge to salvation, by rising to sublime heights of
patriotism, in HIS war against materialism; but would even
Thoreau be so unfeeling as to suggest to this exhorter that HIS
salvation might be clinched "if he would sacrifice his income"
(not himself) and come--in to a real Salvation Army, or that the
final triumph, the supreme happiness in casting aside this mere
$10,000 or $20,000 every year must be denied him--for was he not
captain of the ship--must he not stick to his passengers (in the
first cabin--the very first cabin)--not that the ship was sinking
but that he was...we will go no further. Even Thoreau would not
demand sacrifice for sacrifice sake--no, not even from Nature.

Property from the standpoint of its influence in checking natural
self-expansion and from the standpoint of personal and inherent
right is another institution that comes in for straight and
cross-arm jabs, now to the stomach, now to the head, but seldom
sparring for breath. For does he not say that "wherever a man
goes, men will pursue him with their dirty institutions"? The
influence of property, as he saw it, on morality or immorality
and how through this it mayor should influence "government" is
seen by the following: "I am convinced that if all men were to
live as simply as I did, then thieving and robbery would be
unknown. These take place only in communities where some have got
more than is sufficient while others have not enough--

Nec bella fuerunt,
Faginus astabat dum
Scyphus ante dapes--

You who govern public affairs, what need have you to employ
punishments? Have virtue and the people will be virtuous." If
Thoreau had made the first sentence read: "If all men were like
me and were to live as simply," etc., everyone would agree with
him. We may wonder here how he would account for some of the
degenerate types we are told about in some of our backwoods and
mountain regions. Possibly by assuming that they are an instance
of perversion of the species. That the little civilizing their
forbears experienced rendered these people more susceptible to
the physical than to the spiritual influence of nature; in other
words; if they had been purer naturists, as the Aztecs for
example, they would have been purer men. Instead of turning to
any theory of ours or of Thoreau for the true explanation of this
condition--which is a kind of pseudo-naturalism--for its true
diagnosis and permanent cure, are we not far more certain to find
it in the radiant look of humility, love, and hope in the strong
faces of those inspired souls who are devoting their lives with
no little sacrifice to these outcasts of civilization and nature.
In truth, may not mankind find the solution of its eternal
problem--find it after and beyond the last, most perfect system
of wealth distribution which science can ever devise--after and
beyond the last sublime echo of the greatest socialistic
symphonies--after and beyond every transcendent thought and
expression in the simple example of these Christ-inspired souls--
be they Pagan, Gentile, Jew, or angel.

However, underlying the practical or impractical suggestions
implied in the quotation above, which is from the last paragraph
of Thoreau's Village, is the same transcendental theme of "innate
goodness." For this reason there must be no limitation except
that which will free mankind from limitation, and from a
perversion of this "innate" possession: And "property" may be one
of the causes of this perversion--property in the two relations
cited above. It is conceivable that Thoreau, to the consternation
of the richest members of the Bolsheviki and Bourgeois, would
propose a policy of liberation, a policy of a limited personal
property right, on the ground that congestion of personal
property tends to limit the progress of the soul (as well as the
progress of the stomach)--letting the economic noise thereupon
take care of itself--for dissonances are becoming beautiful--and
do not the same waters that roar in a storm take care of the
eventual calm? That this limit of property be determined not by
the VOICE of the majority but by the BRAIN of the majority under
a government limited to no national boundaries. "The government
of the world I live in is not framed in after-dinner
conversation"--around a table in a capital city, for there is no
capital--a government of principles not parties; of a few
fundamental truths and not of many political expediencies. A
government conducted by virtuous leaders, for it will be led by
all, for all are virtuous, as then their "innate virtue" will no
more be perverted by unnatural institutions. This will not be a
millennium but a practical and possible application of uncommon
common sense. For is it not sense, common or otherwise, for
Nature to want to hand back the earth to those to whom it
belongs--that is, to those who have to live on it? Is it not
sense, that the average brains like the average stomachs will act
rightly if they have an equal amount of the right kind of food to
act upon and universal education is on the way with the right
kind of food? Is it not sense then that all grown men and women
(for all are necessary to work out the divine "law of averages")
shall have a direct not an indirect say about the things that go
on in this world?

Some of these attitudes, ungenerous or radical, generous or
conservative (as you will), towards institutions dear to many,
have no doubt given impressions unfavorable to Thoreau's thought
and personality. One hears him called, by some who ought to know
what they say and some who ought not, a crabbed, cold-hearted,
sour-faced Yankee--a kind of a visionary sore-head--a cross-
grained, egotistic recluse,--even non-hearted. But it is easier
to make a statement than prove a reputation. Thoreau may be some
of these things to those who make no distinction between these
qualities and the manner which often comes as a kind of by-
product of an intense devotion of a principle or ideal. He was
rude and unfriendly at times but shyness probably had something
to do with that. In spite of a certain self-possession he was
diffident in most company, but, though he may have been subject
to those spells when words do not rise and the mind seems wrapped
in a kind of dull cloth which everyone dumbly stares at, instead
of looking through--he would easily get off a rejoinder upon
occasion. When a party of visitors came to Walden and some one
asked Thoreau if he found it lonely there, he replied: "Only by
your help." A remark characteristic, true, rude, if not witty.
The writer remembers hearing a schoolteacher in English
literature dismiss Thoreau (and a half hour lesson, in which time
all of Walden,--its surface--was sailed over) by saying that this
author (he called everyone "author" from Solomon down to Dr.
Parkhurst) "was a kind of a crank who styled himself a hermit-
naturalist and who idled about the woods because he didn't want
to work." Some such stuff is a common conception, though not as
common as it used to be. If this teacher had had more brains, it
would have been a lie. The word idled is the hopeless part of
this criticism, or rather of this uncritical remark. To ask this
kind of a man, who plays all the "choice gems from celebrated
composers" literally, always literally, and always with the loud
pedal, who plays all hymns, wrong notes, right notes, games,
people, and jokes literally, and with the loud pedal, who will
die literally and with the loud pedal--to ask this man to smile
even faintly at Thoreau's humor is like casting a pearl before a
coal baron. Emerson implies that there is one thing a genius must
have to be a genius and that is "mother wit."..."Doctor Johnson,
Milton, Chaucer, and Burns had it. Aunt Mary Moody Emerson has it
and can write scrap letters. Who has it need never write anything
but scraps. Henry Thoreau has it." His humor though a part of
this wit is not always as spontaneous, for it is sometimes pun
shape (so is Charles Lamb's)--but it is nevertheless a kind that
can serenely transport us and which we can enjoy without
disturbing our neighbors. If there are those who think him cold-
hearted and with but little human sympathy, let them read his
letters to Emerson's little daughter, or hear Dr. Emerson tell
about the Thoreau home life and the stories of his boyhood--the
ministrations to a runaway slave; or let them ask old Sam
Staples, the Concord sheriff about him. That he "was fond of a
few intimate friends, but cared not one fig for people in the
mass," is a statement made in a school history and which is
superficially true. He cared too much for the masses--too much to
let his personality be "massed"; too much to be unable to realize
the futility of wearing his heart on his sleeve but not of
wearing his path to the shore of "Walden" for future masses to
walk over and perchance find the way to themselves. Some near-
satirists are fond of telling us that Thoreau came so close to
Nature that she killed him before he had discovered her whole
secret. They remind us that he died with consumption but forget
that he lived with consumption. And without using much charity,
this can be made to excuse many of his irascible and uncongenial
moods. You to whom that gaunt face seems forbidding--look into
the eyes! If he seems "dry and priggish" to you, Mr. Stevenson,
"with little of that large unconscious geniality of the world's
heroes," follow him some spring morning to Baker Farm, as he
"rambles through pine groves...like temples, or like fleets at
sea, full-rigged, with wavy boughs and rippling with light so
soft and green and shady that the Druids would have forsaken
their oaks to worship in them." Follow him to "the cedar wood
beyond Flint's Pond, where the trees covered with hoary blue
berries, spiring higher and higher, are fit to stand before
Valhalla." Follow him, but not too closely, for you may see
little, if you do--"as he walks in so pure and bright a light
gilding its withered grass and leaves so softly and serenely
bright that he thinks he has never bathed in such a golden
flood." Follow him as "he saunters towards the holy land till one
day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever it has done,
perchance shine into your minds and hearts and light up your
whole lives with a great awakening, light as warm and serene and
golden as on a bankside in autumn." Follow him through the golden
flood to the shore of that "holy land," where he lies dying as
men say--dying as bravely as he lived. You may be near when his
stern old aunt in the duty of her Puritan conscience asks him:
"Have you made your peace with God"? and you may see his kindly
smile as he replies, "I did not know that we had ever quarreled."
Moments like these reflect more nobility and equanimity perhaps
than geniality--qualities, however, more serviceable to world's
heroes.

The personal trait that one who has affection for Thoreau may
find worst is a combative streak, in which he too often takes
refuge. "An obstinate elusiveness," almost a "contrary
cussedness," as if he would say, which he didn't: "If a truth
about something is not as I think it ought to be, I'll make it
what I think, and it WILL be the truth--but if you agree with me,
then I begin to think it may not be the truth." The causes of
these unpleasant colors (rather than characteristics) are too
easily attributed to a lack of human sympathy or to the
assumption that they are at least symbols of that lack instead of
to a supersensitiveness, magnified at times by ill health and at
times by a subconsciousness of the futility of actually living
out his ideals in this life. It has been said that his brave
hopes were unrealized anywhere in his career--but it is certain
that they started to be realized on or about May 6, 1862, and we
doubt if 1920 will end their fulfillment or his career. But there
were many in Concord who knew that within their village there was
a tree of wondrous growth, the shadow of which--alas, too
frequently--was the only part they were allowed to touch. Emerson
was one of these. He was not only deeply conscious of Thoreau's
rare gifts but in the Woodland Notes pays a tribute to a side of
his friend that many others missed. Emerson knew that Thoreau's
sensibilities too often veiled his nobilities, that a self-
cultivated stoicism ever fortified with sarcasm, none the less
securely because it seemed voluntary, covered a warmth of
feeling. "His great heart, him a hermit made." A breadth of heart
not easily measured, found only in the highest type of
sentimentalists, the type which does not perpetually discriminate
in favor of mankind. Emerson has much of this sentiment and
touches it when he sings of Nature as "the incarnation of a
thought," when he generously visualizes Thoreau, "standing at the
Walden shore invoking the vision of a thought as it drifts
heavenward into an incarnation of Nature." There is a Godlike
patience in Nature,-in her mists, her trees, her mountains--as if
she had a more abiding faith and a clearer vision than man of the
resurrection and immortality! There comes to memory an old
yellow-papered composition of school-boy days whose peroration
closed with "Poor Thoreau; he communed with nature for forty odd
years, and then died." "The forty odd years,"--we'll still grant
that part, but he is over a hundred now, and maybe, Mr. Lowell,
he is more lovable, kindlier, and more radiant with human
sympathy today, than, perchance, you were fifty years ago. It may
be that he is a far stronger, a far greater, an incalculably
greater force in the moral and spiritual fibre of his fellow-
countrymen throughout the world today than you dreamed of fifty
years ago. You, James Russell Lowells! You, Robert Louis
Stevensons! You, Mark Van Dorens! with your literary perception,
your power of illumination, your brilliancy of expression, yea,
and with your love of sincerity, you know your Thoreau, but not
my Thoreau--that reassuring and true friend, who stood by me one
"low" day, when the sun had gone down, long, long before sunset.
You may know something of the affection that heart yearned for
but knew it a duty not to grasp; you may know something of the
great human passions which stirred that soul--too deep for
animate expression--you may know all of this, all there is to
know about Thoreau, but you know him not, unless you love him!

And if there shall be a program for our music let it follow his
thought on an autumn day of Indian summer at Walden--a shadow of
a thought at first, colored by the mist and haze over the pond:

Low anchored cloud,
Fountain head and
Source of rivers...
Dew cloth, dream drapery--
Drifting meadow of the air....

but this is momentary; the beauty of the day moves him to a
certain restlessness--to aspirations more specific--an eagerness
for outward action, but through it all he is conscious that it is
not in keeping with the mood for this "Day." As the mists rise,
there comes a clearer thought more traditional than the first, a
meditation more calm. As he stands on the side of the pleasant
hill of pines and hickories in front of his cabin, he is still
disturbed by a restlessness and goes down the white-pebbled and
sandy eastern shore, but it seems not to lead him where the
thought suggests--he climbs the path along the "bolder northern"
and "western shore, with deep bays indented," and now along the
railroad track, "where the Aeolian harp plays." But his eagerness
throws him into the lithe, springy stride of the specie hunter--
the naturalist--he is still aware of a restlessness; with these
faster steps his rhythm is of shorter span--it is still not the
tempo of Nature, it does not bear the mood that the genius of the
day calls for, it is too specific, its nature is. too external,
the introspection too buoyant, and he knows now that he must let
Nature flow through him and slowly; he releases his more personal
desires to her broader rhythm, conscious that this blends more
and more with the harmony of her solitude; it tells him that his
search for freedom on that day, at least, lies in his submission
to her, for Nature is as relentless as she is benignant.

He remains in this mood and while outwardly still, he seems to
move with the slow, almost monotonous swaying beat of this
autumnal day. He is more contented with a "homely burden" and is
more assured of "the broad margin to his life; he sits in his
sunny doorway...rapt in revery...amidst goldenrod, sandcherry,
and sumac...in undisturbed solitude." At times the more definite
personal strivings for the ideal freedom, the former more active
speculations come over him, as if he would trace a certain
intensity even in his submission. "He grew in those seasons like
corn in the night and they were better than any works of the
hands. They were not time subtracted from his life but so much
over and above the usual allowance." "He realized what the
Orientals meant by contemplation and forsaking of works." "The
day advanced as if to light some work of his--it was morning and
lo! now it is evening and nothing memorable is accomplished..."
"The evening train has gone by," and "all the restless world with
it. The fishes in the pond no longer feel its rumbling and he is
more alone than ever..." His meditations are interrupted only by
the faint sound of the Concord bell--'tis prayer-meeting night in
the village--"a melody as it were, imported into the
wilderness..." "At a distance over the woods the sound acquires a
certain vibratory hum as if the pine needles in the horizon were
the strings of a harp which it swept...A vibration of the
universal lyre...Just as the intervening atmosphere makes a
distant ridge of earth interesting to the eyes by the azure tint
it imparts."...Part of the echo may be "the voice of the wood;
the same trivial words and notes sung by the wood nymph." It is
darker, the poet's flute is heard out over the pond and Walden
hears the swan song of that "Day" and faintly echoes...Is it a
transcendental tune of Concord? 'Tis an evening when the "whole
body is one sense,"...and before ending his day he looks out over
the clear, crystalline water of the pond and catches a glimpse of
the shadow--thought he saw in the morning's mist and haze--he
knows that by his final submission, he possesses the "Freedom of
the Night." He goes up the "pleasant hillside of pines,
hickories," and moonlight to his cabin, "with a strange liberty
in Nature, a part of herself."

Juri kirjoitti...

Kiitos vain, Anonyymi! En tunne tekstiä, pitää katsoa sitä joskus ajatuksella, vaikka tuskin koskaan enää palaan Thoreauhon sen kummemmin - tosin mietin, että voisin stilisoida ja editoida tekstiäni ja koettaa julkaista sen jossain sen kunniaksi, että Green Spotilta ilmestyi kooste Thoreaun luontoaiheisia esseitä ja puheita.