Startling and informative (Walden 11)

More about the previous post: After talking about the “miracle” in which we “look through each other’s eyes for an instant,” Thoreau goes on to say, “I know of no reading of another’s experience so startling and informative as this would be.”

A few paragraphs earlier he says that the “whole ground of human life seems to some to have been gone over by their predecessors…” an idea with which he strongly disagrees. What we need, he believes, is a fresh perspective, and he’s suggesting that we can achieve this through imagination and empathy. You think it’s all been said and done and thought before? You have only to question the things you took for granted and look at them with fresh eyes, and new worlds will open to you.

I’ve suggested this before, but it bears repeating: Walden isn’t primarily a book about going to the woods. It’s a book about looking at the world around you in a new way. Going to the woods wasn’t just for the love of nature. It was also a way of gaining perspective, of standing just enough apart from normal life to see it as a visitor, as if meeting it for the first time.

(About  “A Year in Walden”)


2 thoughts on “Startling and informative (Walden 11)

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