3.11.2008

Platte Surfaces
Thoreau's Journal: 10-Mar-1859

When I meet gentlemen and ladies, I am reminded of the extent of the inhabitable and uninhabitable globe; I exclaim to myself, Surfaces! surfaces! If the outside of a man is so variegated and extensive, what must the inside be? You are high up the Platte River, traversing deserts, plains covered with soda, with no deeper hollow than a prairie-dog hole tenanted also by owls and venomous snakes.

15 comments:

Edward Mooney said...

Greg!

This is a great service! Thoreau is a Goldmine, and you're finding the veins and sharing the wealth.

Wonderful for the wit and serenity quotient of the planet.

Ed

Clark R. West said...

My friend Ed Mooney turned me on to this site and I agree with him, Greg, this is great. In the spirit of it, can I simply add another neat little tidbit from the March 10 1959 entry: "The bluebird on the apple-tree, warbling so innocently to inquire if any of its mates are within call, ---the angel of the spring!"

thanks Greg.

Melissa McClure said...

I like this quote because men and women are different. They're different on the outside because they're different sexes but men and women also differentiate with race. If our outer appearances are so different what must our insides look like?

taylor adkins said...

This blog really confused me. I dont understand why he is referring to the Platte River and the metaphors with the animals. What does he mean by,"what must the inside be?"

Meagan P said...

this blog to me is saying that everyone is differnt and that is why this world is so great. Everybody will not agree with evry person they meet , but that is what makes the best things happen

Lindsay said...

It took me a few times to read this quote to achieve some kind of understanding. I understand that this quote is talking about the differences between men and women not only on the surface but on the inside as well. Men and women behave and react differently to certain situations. However, I don't really understand what it is talking about with the Platte River and the plains covered with soda.

victoria said...

I agree with everyone else when saying that this quote from Thoreau is confusing. I think maybe he is talking about how different everyone is. Surface could mean what he sees on the outside. He wonders, "if the surfaces on the outside are so variegated and extensive, what must their inside be?" I think he is saying that if their outside is so great then what must their inside be? I don't understand that part about the Platte River or plains covered with soda. I also don't understand the comparisons he is making with the owls and venomous snakes. The only thing i could take from that is the "venomous snakes" could be the bad people in the world?

whitcomb said...

I like this quote because of its truth. The parts that i understood were great. I agree with everyone on the part about how men and women and women are so different. I like how he talks about the physical differences being so great, but the ones inside being so much greater. thats about where i stop understanding. He lost me with the river and animals.

Edward Mooney said...

Some thoughts on this enigmatic passage. When we look at the surface of a human body, man or woman, it's really quite remarkable -- full of bumps and curves and wrinkles and hair and indentations and toe nails and arm pits -- the geography of the body is astounding, if we just stop to notice and catalogue the small details. (Look at one of your fingers for a minute, and try to describe the surface.) Now if our outsides are that complex and interesting and full of differences, think how complex out insides -- our thoughts, feelings, desires, memories, hates, affections, etc. -- must be!
The ratio of what we know to the unknown is astounding - most of the world, even its surface, we don't notice. We're like creatures in a prairie dog hole along Nebraska's Platte River; and we share that hole with owls and snakes, all crammed in. There's grass and soda (a plant linked to salt) outside. We never take flight like the owl at night nor see mountains or oceans or forests or lakes or the underground world of the snake -- but stay clinging together out of sight and afraid and out of our life -- for life is, after all, seeing the differences and knowing there's always ten times more we haven't yet seen. In seeing the wild and in wild seeing is our preservation.

Kayley said...

I understand that this quote is comparing men and women and how they are different, but it still confuses me at the end. I guess he is trying to compare the differences in their personalities to nature?

ian said...

I agree with everyone else who has posted on this quote, men and women are two very different things. The way we act, talk, walk, eat, etc. makes us different. To explore the thought process of each one of them is remarkable.

Matt said...

Men and women differentiate amongst each other both internally and externally. Everyone is an individual and has their own attitude towards certain situations. The question is how will each individual react?

kevin iler said...

I read this quote several times before I understood it. However it is talking about the difference between people in the world. Which is a good thing not all people are the same whihs makes the world a more interesting place. Also men and women are different. This is the main purpous of this poem to show the difference in man and women. So since men and women are so different ouside what about the inside?

heatherh said...

I agree with Meagan on this post. The world is good because everyone is different. If we all looked the same and acted the same way then we’d have no fun! It would get really old.

David Knight said...

I agree Men and women are the same and we act all the same. we all eat, walk, and sleep, and to think of they way that each one works is a miricle.