Thoreau and Cronon

I feel like Thoreau and Cronon probably would have wonderful conversations if they could. Both value the wildness of nature, and they both have lots of ideas about those values in everyday life. Cronon values finding our own nature in our lives, whether that be in a nearby forest or a park, and protecting it like it was the environment itself. Thoreau values spending time with nature, learning from it and becoming more whole with it by being alone with it for prolonged times.

Thoreau has a very poetic way of viewing nature, but for many people like me it is an unrealistic one. Many people simply don’t have the time to do as he did, to “walk” in nature. I feel that in walking, Thoreau puts too much emphasis on two points- time and motive. He spends hours, several at a time, just walking. For many people though, we cannot just throw away a few hours of our lives to be in touch with the outdoors. We have lives and responsibilities we have to attend to. I also feel like he puts a lot of shame on others for not being able to “truly walk”. He states that only those gifted by god are able to walk in nature correctly, and that others aren’t really doing it. To me, I feel like so long as anyone tries to be one with nature, they have already somewhat completed the task. One does not have to be gifted by god. I feel like in a way, his reactions to others is more of a way to feel alone with nature. Like Cronon states, he seems to want a loneliness with nature, and to perpetuate that he feels he is the only one who can be in nature correctly. It is still a very beautiful idea, to be with nature, but I feel anyone can do it, they don’t have to do it for long or do it “correctly” as Thoreau would say it.

Comments

Ivy Sanders says:

I disagree with Thoreau as well. I wonder what led him to hold the beliefs that he does about nature. Do you have any idea as to that? Have you ever thought about that while reading “Walking”?

I’m not entirely sure, perhaps he truly believed that nature was something only those who were gifted by god could do. Perhaps he thought that being in nature for only short periods detracted from the experience enough to be false and unreal. Maybe it is like cronon referred to him as, a solitary loneliness, he just wanted to be alone in nature so he decided that others weren’t truly doing the same as him. I do wonder how he came to those ideals, because he holds them true in “Walking”.

Abigail Lasky says:

I totally agree that Thoreau has unrealistic expectations of mankind, thinking that we are able to just drop everything and go walking for hours at a time. How did he have time to do that? It is very rare that someone would have that amount of time. Also, wouldn’t the weather affect the walking? I was so surprised when I read that he walks for hours on end. What an interesting man.

Olivia Black says:

I agree as well, although the time spent walking isn’t as much as an issue for me as his entitlement; I know that there are ultra runners, for example, who run 20-50 miles a day and still make time for their jobs (crazy people for sure). But, I do not support his idea that you have to be given a gift from God in order to appreciate nature. Nature is beautiful and deserves to be loved by everyone!!

Haven Walker says:

I’m gonna disagree with you on the elitist viewpoint here, Braden Boy. I feel like Thoreau made it a point to say that he understood people have lives and such, and that it takes a privileged man to be able to walk as he did. He said they are “graced by God” to illustrate that it is a rare opportunity for someone to have that much economic and chronological freedom. Also, I feel like Cronon was trying to say that Nature isn’t just in our parks and such, but everywhere. And if only humanity would integrate it even more, we’d be at harmony. It’s a small point, but one I thought I should mention.

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