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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Thoreau's Walden and the American Dream: Challenge or Myth?"

The author, Michaela Keck, begins the essay with an opening statement, basically describing the centrality of Thoreau's thoughts around society and nature as two completely separate creatures. "The interconnectedness between civilization and nature is as central to Thoreau's thought as the interconnectedness of mind and body, the ideal and the real." (Keck). First of all, this is a sort of odd way of describing it here. Personally, I do not believe that the mind is connected to the body in any other way than its physical attachment through the spinal cord and whatnot. I think our minds will die when the body dies because there will be nothing left for it to do, essentially; in other words, I believe in science as making the most sense. Next, in every sort of way, the ideal is not the real. It is practically impossible to assert that we live in an ideal world, but we certainly live in a real world - one, in fact, that is so full of miscalculations and dillusions, that it seems this so called "ideal" is so widely ranged in definition according to religion and philosophy. It is darn near the point of not even using "ideal" to describe something because my version of ideal can be (and probably is) different than that of ninety-nine percent of the school I attend. There are so many things to disagree on that it actually seems like a useless word. Despite all of this, however, I see the point Keck is trying to make - that Thoreau is extremely centered around the connection between civilization and nature. Also, in a line following, Keck embodies my point of impossibilities by saying, "And in fulfillment of the American Dream, Walden embodies both success and failure." This just goes to show that it is impossible to please everyone and everything because you even, sometimes, hurt yourself by failing yourself. One other thing that I like about this essay is that Keck included both sides of Thoreau: "...Thoreau, the nature lover on the one hand, and Thoreau, the social critic on the other, calling for 'Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!'" This draws out the point that Thoreau did not only go out to the woods simply to bond with nature, no. But, he did go out to show the world that it is just as easy to live without the luxuries of everyday life and because he limply enjoys nature. He went out to the woods to say "hey, I can do this, so why can't you?" I really like this about him because the world, especially today, is so full of unnecessary luxuries, such as electricity, including everything that also runs on electricity. It is not totally necessary, but it is awfully useful. Also, he chose to go out into nature because he would be able to grow back closer to himself. That is another thing that a lot of people probably need. I do not, however, agree that the time spent alone in the woods should equal anywhere even close to two years, two months, and two days. No, I think just a weekend would be extremely sufficient.

Works Cited

Keck, Michaela. "Thoreau's Walden and the American Dream: Challenge or Myth?" In Bloom, Harold, ed. The American Dream, Bloom's Literary Themes. New York: Chelsea Publishing House, 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. BLTTAD021&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 17, 2010).

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