Thoreau's Journal: 12-May-1857

How rarely I meet with a man who can be free, even in thought! We live according to rule. Some men are bedridden; all world-ridden. I take my neighbor, an intellectual man, out into the woods and invite him to take a new and absolute view of things, to empty clean out his thoughts all institutions of men and start again; but he can’t do it, he sticks to his traditions and his crochets. He thinks that governments, colleges, newspapers, etc., are from everlasting to everlasting.

The Salix cordata, var. Torreyana is distinguished by its naked ovaries more or less red-brown, with flesh-colored stigmas, with a distinct slender wholly rachis and conspicuous stalks, giving the ament a loose and open appearance.

When I consider how many species of willow have been planted along the railroad causeway within ten years, of which no one knows the history, and not one in Concord beside myself can tell the name of one, so that it is quite a discovery to identify a single one in a year, and yet within this period the seeds of all these kinds have been conveyed from some other locality to this, I am reminded how much is going on that man wots not of.


Cathy said...

Henry, it's all that 'going on' that creates the human need for certitude - for a sense of permanency - for predictability. You must be a little patient with your neighbor.

Anonymous said...

All men, including Thoreau are/were not free of presuppositions in all thoughts and behaviour.

The goal is not to be free of all traditions, but to be deliberate and conscious in choosing which presuppositions (or traditions,if you will) on which you will base your life, philosophy, behaviour, etc.