We read that the traveler asked the boy if the swamp before him had a hard bottom. The boy replied that it had. But presently the traveler's horse sank in up to the girths, and he observed to the boy, "I thought you said that this bog had a hard bottom." "So it has," answered the latter, "but you have not got half way to it yet." So it is with the bogs and quicksands of society.Thoreau has been investigating origins, literally and metaphorically plumbing depths, in his return to nature, and in the conclusion he boldly suggests, with a joke, that the search for origins may be dangerous. This is not the claim of "post-modernism" and deconstruction that there are, properly speaking, no origins, no solid base on which to ground opinion, values, even fact: Thoreau suggests that there IS a center that can be relied upon; it's just that we can't get to it, or can't get to it safely.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
From Henry David Thoreau's Walden
I am not a big fan of Henry David Thoreau -- Ralph Waldo Emerson is the real center of American letters -- but I adore this story, from the conclusion to Walden: