Monday, July 20, 2009

Economy . 1 | Walden X

Walden X is an experiment in living, a modern resetting of Henry David Thoreau's classic tale of Life in the Woods. Why? As any sensible person, and maybe the man himself, might ask.

First - we love it. Although we find it and Thoreau stranger with each passing year. No doubt due to the loss of some of our natural elasticity, as he identifies the source of similar problems. So, love.

Second - it's difficult to read in print but it's almost impossible online. To that end we've broken up, but not edited, the text into logical, easily readable units. HD does have an undeniable tendancy, even to his fans, to run on.

Third - images. This will be an illustrated Walden with modern and period photographs and graphics. Thoreau was magical at setting scenes with words. He lived just at the beginning of photography and no doubt had he lived longer or been born later would have been one of its masters, an Ansel Adams, Edward Weston or Elliot Porter.

Fourth - Notes. Thoreau delights in his arcane Harvard erudition and obscurity, sometimes name dropping and checking faster than his Crimson companion a century later in the Wasteland. Plus the passage of time has just plain clouded part of his passing references. We plan to offer nice notes in small pop up windows to clarity and amplify these passages.

Image ... Thoreau Cove.

WALDEN - Economy

When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only.

I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.

I should not obtrude my affairs so much on the notice of my readers if very particular inquiries had not been made by my townsmen concerning my mode of life, which some would call impertinent, though they do not appear to me at all impertinent, but, considering the circumstances, very natural and pertinent.

Some have asked what I got to eat; if I did not feel lonesome; if I was not afraid; and the like. Others have been curious to learn what portion of my income I devoted to charitable purposes; and some, who have large families, how many poor children I maintained.

I will therefore ask those of my readers who feel no particular interest in me to pardon me if I undertake to answer some of these questions in this book. In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this it will be retained; that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference. We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking. 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.

Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men's lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land; for if he has lived sincerely, it must have been in a distant land to me.

Perhaps these pages are more particularly addressed to poor students. As for the rest of my readers, they will accept such portions as apply to them. I trust that none will stretch the seams in putting on the coat, for it may do good service to him whom it fits.

To be continued ...