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Posts Tagged ‘Henry David Thoreau’

To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but to so love wisdom as to live according to its dictates a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity and trust.
  —  Henry David Thoreau
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On This Day In:
2018 25 Days Until The November Election
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2017 Universal Soul Sounds
2016 Not Rivals
2015 Dead Sure
2014 Are You Educated?
2013 For Myself
2012 And When I’m Gone…
2011 Complete Conviction

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An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
  —  Henry David Thoreau
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On This Day In:
2018 One Person Can
2017 Been There, Thought That
2016 Diligent Students
2015 Unanswered Prayers
2014 Pray, v.
2013 As I…
2012 But We Need Room
2011 A Definition Of Leadership

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I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.  Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience.
   —  Henry David Thoreau
From his book: “Walden
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On This Day In:
2017 About Change
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2016 Are Your Prayers Functioning?
2015 Expressing Love
2014 Cyclical Attitudes
2013 Footprints
2012 Broken Resolutions
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Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them.
   —  Henry David Thoreau
From: “Walden
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On This Day In:
2017 Something That Is Absolute
2016 Animate And Encourage
Out Of Time
2015 In Time
2014 Robust Interconnectivity
2013 What Have We Here?
2012 Tributaries And Eddies
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2011 Penultimate

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Walden Two”  (1948©, 1976©)  —  book review
This is another “classic” book (novel) I’ve wanted to read for some time.  No, it’s not the original “Walden Or Life In The Woods“, by Thoreau, or its sequel.  It is the fictional description of a “scientifically” created utopian community used by the author (B. F. Skinner) to promote his theories about (what is now known as) applied behavioral analysis.  It was Skinner’s belief that most of an individual’s actions (and cultural preferences) are determined by the environmental factors / variables / cultural norms one is exposed to.  While Skinner did not start the nature vs. nurture debate, he did go some distance in promoting his side (nurture) of the argument.
Basically, the novel revolves around an academic who is approached by two students to find out if stories about Utopia’s are real or even possible.  They have heard of one (in the professor’s class) and wonder if the professor would approach the person who organized it (the utopian society) so they could visit it.  The professor writes to his old friend who agrees to host them (the visitors) for a time.  The group of visitors ends up being the original professor, another academic / current friend, the two students and their two girl-friends.  The visit is to “Walden Two” – a play on Thoreau’s Walden which uses the sequence / numeric (two) instead of the “also” (too).  In other words, “we follow, but we are not the same.”
The “visit” allows the author to present his theories about how to “properly” arrange a society so it can maximize leisure time as well as efficient productivity to generate just enough to cover more than what the society needs, but never to exceed requirements so much that people do not have time to be and to become themselves.  As an example, everyone is “expected” to do a certain amount of work / chores, and you receive “credits” for the time spent doing them.  The “jobs” average to four hours per day and the remainder of the time is yours to use any way you see fit – eat, sleep, art, play, whatever…  The job credits are scored based on the number of staff who want to do the job, which presumes fewer folks want to do “harder”, “more tedious”, or “dirtier” jobs.  This, in turn, means you can earn your four hours of credit in less than four hours of work.  The “science” comes from the statistical analysis of how many folks ask to do the job.  Of course, the majority of jobs are also shifted periodically (again using analysis) to even out the more favorable jobs, too.  For those, you have to work more than four hours to get the four hours of credit.  The “surplus” generated by efficient productivity is used to deal with external entities – to pay taxes and for buying supplies which cannot be generated within the society.
This pretty much covers the general economics of the utopia.  The social engineering and politics are also covered and they are what was found so objectionable about the book that it was banned in some places.
Can man play God?  Can we make life so pleasant that free will becomes a lost / legacy concept?  Can we eliminate greed and/or the desire to rule others?  I don’t know.  My instinct is to say “no”.  And if we could do any of these things, is it a society I would want to live in?  Again, I don’t know…  But the book sure did make it sound appealing.  What happens to the six visitors?  I’m afraid  that would be telling, so you have to read the book to find out…
Final recommendation:  highly recommended!  This is a book which made me think about my own values and what I’d be willing to give up in my “society” to have a civilization where wealth was not the “be-all / end-all”.  If nothing else, that (“it made me think”) is a pretty good description of a “classic”.  …And, of course, quotes / excerpts will follow in good time.  (LOL)
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On This Day In:
2016 Learning Subtle Differences
2015 Dog Eat Dog World?
2014 And Sometimes Blogs About It
2013 Outside-In
2012 They Are All Perfect
2011 Delegation – The “How-To’s”
2009 Diet Update and Other Bits & Bobs…

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I have never found the companion that was as companionable as solitude.
  —  Henry David Thoreau
[Henry never met my wife!  LOL!  For an introvert (like me), she’s been pretty special and has shaped my life in ways I could never have expected.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2015 Food Change ==> Health Change
2014 10 Commandments Of Logical Arguments (Fallacies)
2013 Sociology Of The Future
2012 1010
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2011 Not Enough Time

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My Side Of The Mountain (1969)  –  movie review
Today’s movie review is for a family movie made in 1969.  The story revolves around twelve / thirteen-year old Sam Gribley (played by Teddy Eccles), who is a devotee of Thoreau and who fancies himself a naturalist.  Sam decides to runaway to spend a  year in the Canadian woods to see if he can make it as a self-sufficient spirit.  The decision is spurred by his father’s promise of a summer trip that doesn’t pan out due to work responsibilities.
Sam gathers up his supplies (a small ax and a flint) at a few local stores and then hops a bus to the forest.  On arriving he sets up his campsite and begins to live off the land.  He has a number of adventures including a narrow escape from a bear and stealing a falcon chick from its nest.  He manages to get by quite well until a stranger – Bando (played by Theodore Bikel) – stumbles onto his camp.  The stranger ends up being both friendly and useful and they form a friendship.  They are together for a few weeks and Sam realizes he was actually lonely.  Actually, Sam has made two friends – the other being the local town’s librarian  – Miss Turner (played by Tudi Wiggins) – who let him read books about raising and training falcons.
Anyway, blah, blah, blah, Sam gets caught in a blizzard and is snowbound in his home (a hollowed out tree).  Sam’s two friends come to see if he survived the storm and end up saving Sam by digging him out of the snow.  Sam then decides to return home to his family feeling he has learned as much as he can from his adventure.
I first saw this move on original release in the theater, so I must have been fourteen at the time.  I have not seen it since, but I’ll be darned if I didn’t completely remember the climactic scene of getting snowbound in the tree.  I also have very strong memories of several other parts of the movie (the adventures, not the “blah, blah, blah” parts).  So, is it a “good” movie?  I think if you can remember a movie after forty-five years and only seeing it once, it’s a pretty good movie.  Is it at all realistic?  Nope.  The kid would have been dead many times over.  He failed to have enough food to last a winter and more importantly, he failed to gather enough firewood to last even more than a few days.  Setting all that aside, was it believable?  Surprisingly, yes and it reminded me a lot of “The Martian“, in that survival is about dealing with your most immediate problems first.  The movie also reminded me the first true “right of passage” into manhood is not age, but survival.  And, that they are different things.
Final recommendation: Strong Recommendation.  The is a family movie that doesn’t insult the intelligence of kids or adults.  As such, you can share it with your young (5 to 10 yrs) nieces and nephews and your own kids.  It is shot with a low budget and “looks” like an old fashioned movie, so I think kids over 10 years old might find it blasé by today’s standards.  But, I enjoyed it at age 14 and then again at age 60, so go figure…
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On This Day In:
2015 I’ve Got To Run
2014 Which Is It?
2013 Making You Stronger
2012 Sick Of Being Sick
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2011 Clear, Specific And Measurable
2010 The Runner’s High
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