4.20.2008

Two-Headed Phenomena
Thoreau's Journal: 19-Apr-1854

A man came to me yesterday to offer me as a naturalist a two-headed calf which his cow had brought forth, but I felt nothing but disgust at the idea and began to ask myself what enormity I had committed to have such an offer made to me. I am not interested in mere phenomena, though it were the explosion of a planet, only as it may have lain in the experience of a human being.

1 comment:

Jack Aldrich said...

Thoreau's last line is particularly interesting. "I am not interested in mere phenomena, though it were the explosion of a planet, only as it may have lain in the experience of a human being." He states he is not interested in science and nature as an objective observer, but rather as a human being who has been affected by such occurrences. Once again, this illuminates Thoreau's worldview, especially as a transcendentalist, because he believes that there is no distinction between natural phenomena and human beings. All of nature, all of the universe, exists as the same divine entity, blanketed by the transcendentalist oversoul. He is at Walden, not to take lifeless notes, but to pontificate and philosophize on the human experience in such an environment, and the immutable relationship between humans and nature. Thoreau was not interested in the cow because he had no objective fascination with the animal's deformity. Observing it as a naturalist would not have been consistent with his worldview.