Who would win in a knife fight between all the philsophers. Unlike the United States Presidency, Philosophy has been going on for thousands of years, so instead of 44 contestants there are a whopping 89. Don’t be afraid of the numbers, for I guarantee you won’t get bored; philosophers are a very interesting bunch of people, and the most rewarding part of this post has been researching their lives and finding out how crazy they all are. This will be a wild knife fight. [more inside]
Thoreau was kind of a dick. Actually, more than "kind of." He was, in fact, a huge, total dick. (OK, he was a strident and powerful abolitionist. But somehow he managed to be a dick about that too.) [more inside]
Fuck Yeah, Thoreau is a Tumblr dispensing Thoreau quotes and Thoreau-themed art - "Everything Henry David Thoreau". A good place to begin is Ralph Waldo Emerson's powerhouse biographical essay, the conclusion of which perhaps still rings true more than 150 years after Thoreau's death: "The country knows not yet, or in the least part, how great a son it has lost."
From 1851 to 1858, Henry David Thoreau noted a number of natural occurrences in detail, including the first flowering dates for over 500 species of wildflowers in Concord. Additionally, Alfred Hosmer, a botanist in the same area, had recorded the flowering dates of over 600 species of wild plants in 1878 and from 1888 to 1902. With that data, Richard Primack, a biology professor at Boston University, and fellow researcher Abraham Miller-Rushing spent years aligning old plant names with current names to study the change flowering patterns from the recorded past to present. Their phenological study concluded that plants in Concord, on average, are now flowering 10 days earlier than they were in Thoreau's time (full article for the journal BioScience). [more inside]
In literature, there are two key sorts of annotations: marginalia, or the notes jotted down in the margins by the reader, and additional information formally provided in expanded editions of a text, and you can find a bit of both online. Annotated Books Online is an on-line interactive archive of early modern annotated books, where researchers can share digitized documents and collaborate on translations. For insight into a single author's notes, Melville's Marginalia provides just that. For annotations with additional information, The Thoreau Reader provides context for Walden (linked previously), The Maine Woods, and other writings. Then there's the mostly annotated edition Ulysses, analysis of Joseph Conrad's Nostromo, and the thoroughly annotated US constitution (twentieth amendment linked previously). More marginalia and annotations inside. [more inside]
The Thoreau Poison - Caleb Crain of The New Yorker takes a closer look at the ideas explored in Upstream Color (spoilers)
On this day in 1844, Henry David Thoreau burned down a forest.
The Exterminator’s Want-Ad, a short story by Bruce Sterling, is a twisted first-person missive by a former K-Street lobbyist making his way in a post-collapse socialist regime of sharing. It's part of the Shareable Futures series of short stories and speculative essays at Shareable.net. [Via]
"We want to be in clean country with like-minded people with access to clean food. . . . The question is, Do I have Internet access in the woods?" The New York Times has the story of an Austin family that has decided to give away almost all of their worldly possessions in exchange for a simpler more sustainable life. Could you do it? [more inside]
Thoreau was into it. Scientists are using it to understand climate change. When Project Budburst starts again on Febraury 15th, you can participate, too. [more inside]
The Art of Sharpening the Pencil (You've GOT to check out the bizarre pencil sharpener at the bottom of the page. "You'll poke your eye out!"). [more inside]
We know you can read Pepys diaries a page a day online. (Previous Mefi post here.) But there are more. Kafka's Diaries. W.N.P Barbellion's diaries (The Journal of a Disappointed Man, highly recommended.) The Diary of a Nobody (the page a day seems to be down, but the whole Punch series is here.) The Notebooks of Da Vinci. Henry David Thoreau, day by day. Fibroid Sludge, the cartoon diary of Irven Spence. A previous MeFi post on Martha Ballard's historical diary. And of course, that diary of one day, Ulysses, a page a day.
"Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? We are determined to be starved before we are hungry." Thoreau was arguably the start of the Simplicity Movement, a loose, world-wide network dedicated to removing the extraneous from our lives. Difficult to concisely quantify because of its deep vision and many methodologies, the common thread is the reclaiming of our lives from technology, the mainstream, and the economic cycle.
Civil Disobedience-Henry David Thoreau Nothing in here about blocking traffic but a very important historical document for our time. "The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.".................. ............ "A democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. "