Archive for October 28th, 2011

Seeing the woods and the trees

28 October 2011

This is an image from the Library of Congress that shows the spot near Walden Pond that Henry David Thoreau built his cabin.  From this spot he wrote his most famous work, Walden.  It is still seen as a classic of American nature writing and an inspiration to environmentalism.  The image that the book projects is of Thoreau reveling in isolation and reflection, immersed in nature.  If you take a wider view point, as many have pointed out, Thoreau’s splendid isolation was a mere 30 minute walk from the village of Concord.  He was apparently brought supplies of food by a servant.  Nevertheless, he seems to have successfully created a productive isolation for himself in which he wrote at least one book and laid the ground work for a second.  I somehow need to find a similar kind of retreat if I am ever to finish my present book.  I find my perspective swinging wildly between woods and trees: one day I am focussed on the big picture and the next I am overwhelmed by the details of data.