"If this was the law of Nature, why waste any time in awe or pity?”
October 13, 2015 6:47 PM   Subscribe

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.)

So, at least, claims Kathryn Schultz, in this week's New Yorker:

Although Thoreau is often regarded as a kind of cross between Emerson, John Muir, and William Lloyd Garrison, the man who emerges in “Walden” is far closer in spirit to Ayn Rand: suspicious of government, fanatical about individualism, egotistical, élitist, convinced that other people lead pathetic lives yet categorically opposed to helping them. It is not despite but because of these qualities that Thoreau makes such a convenient national hero.

Much new-asshole-ripping in the well-researched and delightfully-titled piece "Pond Scum."
posted by neroli (111 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
OH GEEZ. So who was the bigger dick, was it: Lou Reed or Thoureau?


You better keep your hands off Emerson, or I will kick your ass (and be called a dick)



Journalism is always sensational, isn't it?


Why, oh why can I not have perfection in my long-dead-white-male-heroes? Whhhhhhy?
posted by alex_skazat at 7:17 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I read the article prepared to snarkily defend Thoreau, but she's actually pretty convincing.
posted by crazylegs at 7:18 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


But I still like Thoreau.
posted by crazylegs at 7:19 PM on October 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Thoreau annoyed me ever since high school, when I learned that a man who wrote an entire book proclaiming the virtues of self-reliance, nature, solitude, and the virtues of independence was living on land owned by a buddy of his who regularly invited him over to dinner.

This article does not come as much of a surprise. But it does raise an interesting question: when it comes to narcissists obsessed with their own personal conception of "nature", do we prefer hypocrites like Thoreau and Jack London or true believers like Chris McCandless and Timothy Treadwell?
posted by Ndwright at 7:21 PM on October 13, 2015 [34 favorites]


Wait. Thoreau opposes coffee?

BURN HIM!
posted by alex_skazat at 7:24 PM on October 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


Gods, his prose was insufferably wooden. Most of the old white American writers were, but Thoreau set a new standard for overlong pseudo-intellectual writing. I'm all for critique that recognizes this.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:31 PM on October 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


At least he wasn't a Moby dick.
posted by crazylegs at 7:34 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, there was that time he burned down an entire 300-acre forest. Accidentally.

Other than that, though - I really don't think Thoreau has ever been well-regarded for the comprehensiveness of his moral vision. It's more that he captured something beautiful and essential about the American spirit at the time. Being an abolitionist put him on the right side of history, too, which didn't hurt. But, yes, it is true that he's all kinds of turned around when it comes down to it.
posted by koeselitz at 7:36 PM on October 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


If William Hazlitt turns out to be a jerkoff as well I will spend all my money on rags.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:38 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was over Thoreau before it was cool.

I snark, but I'm actually serious. I read Walden in high school and was totally impressed, then read it again maybe 6-8 years later (early 80's-ish) and realized his Walk didn't really match the Talk as much as I originally thought it had. So I "meh" 'd it and moved on.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:40 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


BURN HIM!

Speaking of which. (John Pipkin's Woodsburner is a fine historical novel about this event, with a somewhat more positive assessment of Thoreau than Schultz's.)
posted by thomas j wise at 7:41 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is no one that the mob and its scribal leadership does not insist on dragging down to its own level.
posted by No Robots at 7:41 PM on October 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


I'm probably not the audience for this since as a student of American lit. I already knew most of it and knew that most other famous figures of American lit were dicks in one way or another and don't really give a shit. Most people in general are sort of dicks too in one way or another; I know I could never live up to this sort of scrutiny.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:43 PM on October 13, 2015 [35 favorites]


Whenever I hear complaints about famous people being "torn down," what I hear is that someone was caught out in a hypocrisy that was used to present an image that appealed to very many people, and now that hypocrisy is becoming widely known.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:44 PM on October 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


koeselitz: Oops, cross-posted there.

If William Hazlitt turns out to be a jerkoff as well I will spend all my money on rags.

Most of his contemporaries thought that Hazlitt was, while entertaining, frequently unpleasant to be around (to the extent that somebody once slugged him at a get-together).
posted by thomas j wise at 7:46 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


This style of takedown is a little tiresome. There is nobody, living or dead, that will not seem like an insufferable asshole with close enough scrutiny and at the range of 100+ years. I can't really condemn the author for writing it though - gotta pay the rent, right? Or Thoreau for being an unlikeable weirdo. I forgive everyone. I'm basically Jesus in that way.
posted by um at 7:48 PM on October 13, 2015 [47 favorites]


“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” It is a mystery to me how a claim so simultaneously insufferable and absurd ever entered the canon of popular quotations.

Consider having a conversation with any psychoanalyst. There are many of them out there.
posted by uraniumwilly at 7:51 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've read Walden twice, once in high school and once in my early thirties. I had a strongly negative reaction it both times. High school aged me probably wasn't the best audience, but by my second reading I was clearly a guy who "should" like Walden. Enjoying nature and avoiding the pursuit of wealth, what's not to like?

The article pretty much captures what. Both times, Walden didn't read primarily as a book by someone who loved nature. It struck me as someone who wanted to look at other peoples' lives and say You're Doing It Wrong.

Most people in general are sort of dicks too in one way or another; I know I could never live up to this sort of scrutiny.

This style of takedown is a little tiresome. There is nobody, living or dead, that will not seem like an insufferable asshole with close enough scrutiny and at the range of 100+ years.

Not what I saw reading the article--this is about his work. Not some close personal examination of his biography. As I said above, I'm hardly neutral but the critiques flow from a straightforward reading of his most famous work.
posted by mark k at 7:51 PM on October 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


Thoreau was so derivative. Repeating Pink Floyd lyrics and passing it off as his originals. What a poseur.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:53 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


If William Hazlitt turns out to be a jerkoff as well I will spend all my money on rags.

Here you go. Diary of Benjamin Haydon, 1825:

He was relating to me with great horror Hazlitt's licentious conduct to the girls of the Lake & that no woman could walk after dark for 'his Satyr & beastly appetites' -- Some girl called him a black-faced rascal -- when Hazlitt enraged pushed her down -- '& because Sir' said Wordsworth, 'she refused to gratify his abominable & devilish propensities' -- he lifted up her petticoats & smote her on the bottom.
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 7:54 PM on October 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Not what I saw reading the article--this is about his work. Not some close personal examination of his biography. As I said above, I'm hardly neutral but the critiques flow from a straightforward reading of his most famous work.

Yeah, this is true. Sorry if I was a little too snarky in describing the piece, but I was just so tickled by its irredeemably aggrieved tone. But this actually is a serious close reading of the text, not merely a gossipy takedown.
posted by neroli at 7:58 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


From the article:
The real Thoreau was, in the fullest sense of the word, self-obsessed: narcissistic, fanatical about self-control, adamant that he required nothing beyond himself to understand and thrive in the world.
That doesn't seem to me to be 'about his work'. That's a direct commentary on the dude himself. I mean, if people want to go ahead and slag off historical figures then I'm not going to stop them. But at least have the decency to own it rather than hiding behind the idea that it's just a textual critique.
posted by um at 8:08 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not what I saw reading the article--this is about his work. Not some close personal examination of his biography. As I said above, I'm hardly neutral but the critiques flow from a straightforward reading of his most famous work.

Point taken, but by the same token, Walden isn't really about nature, much. It's about the self/soul and Transcendentalism, mostly, and in that respect isn't any worse than "Self-Reliance" (or "Song of Myself," for that matter.) Both were more thought-experiments or provocations than anything else, and E&T themselves would probably be horrified to learn anybody regarded either one as some sort of guide to living. Fortunately, nobody has really thought that way about Walden since like 1975.

But the author does start with that anecdote about Thoreau's unnatural? inhuman? whatever reaction to the Cohasset thing, which sounds a lot like the stuff some neurotypical people say about neurodiverse people -- anybody who's wired in such a way that they express themselves unconventionally is by definition a cold-hearted amoral asshole.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:09 PM on October 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Ralph Waldo or Lake & Palmer?
posted by symbioid at 8:12 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh no, people are saying mean bad things about dead white guys. How dare we humanize them instead of putting them on a pedestal of convenient veneration. (That is the point of the article-- it's easy to venerate a dick who stands mostly for being a selfish, antisocial, condescending jerk. Because Americans/people like that attitude. Of looking down on others, and avoiding them or any obligation to them.)

Thoreau was a total bunghole. Fuck that guy and his shitty writing.

Hawthorne was a bunghole but at least his writing rules. And he hated Transcendentalism, which makes him amazing and beloved to me.
posted by easter queen at 8:17 PM on October 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


(to the extent that somebody once slugged him at a get-together)

If this is all it takes to be branded a villain by history, I have some serious concerns about my own legacy.
posted by 256 at 8:18 PM on October 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I have never read Walden, though I have always meant to. I probably won't bother now.

A Thoreau quote from the article: "It is hard to have a Southern overseer; it is worse to have a Northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave-driver of yourself."

Oh for God's sake. I would give a lot to be able to lock Thoreau and Jonathan Franzen in a room together.
posted by orange swan at 8:19 PM on October 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


Also, most of the people who wrote literature i.e. the subject of textual criticism and/or developed the discipline of textual criticism had no problem with saying, "hey, remember that one guy/lady from recent/distant memory? He/she was a fucking bunghole, and I hate every idiotic thing they said, listen to me tear them a new one." So that's not just a new thing people do to pay the bills. It is part of a rich tradition of hating people with (personally) abhorrent ideas.
posted by easter queen at 8:20 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


"[Walden was essentially] a fantasy about escaping the entanglements and responsibilities of living among other people."

I read Walden in 9th grade and no longer remember it. This line in the article struck me, though, mainly because I've always wondered - is not escaping social responsibility and emotional entanglements with others that might become downers the true American Dream?

I may have to read it again to see what I think today as opposed to 32 years ago.
posted by droplet at 8:20 PM on October 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


I would give a lot to be able to lock Thoreau and Jonathan Franzen in a room together.

LOLLLLL who is burned more by this statement? I'm not sure. A+!

is not escaping social responsibility and emotional entanglements with others that might become downers the true American Dream

damnnnn son
posted by easter queen at 8:21 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Hawthorne was a bunghole but at least his writing rules.

I was with you right up until that last bit.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:24 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I do think there's more room for criticism of Thoreau's personality and beliefs, because he wrote first-person essays that mostly expounded on those items. Criticising, I don't know, William Makepeace Thackeray, for being a jerk is less tenable, since he wrote fiction.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:30 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thoreau after lighting a fire on a stump(!!) and burning down the woods: "I have set fire to the forest, but I have done no wrong therein, and now it is as if the lightning had done it."

What a schmuck!
posted by monotreme at 8:30 PM on October 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


"How horrible it is to have so many people killed! And what a blessing that one cares for none of them!" - Jane Austen on the Peninsular War (letter to Cassandra Austen, May 31 1811)
posted by DaDaDaDave at 8:31 PM on October 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


That doesn't seem to me to be 'about his work'. That's a direct commentary on the dude himself. I mean, if people want to go ahead and slag off historical figures then I'm not going to stop them. But at least have the decency to own it rather than hiding behind the idea that it's just a textual critique.

It's "the dude" as he chose to write about himself, as a writer. The man wrote essays and memoirs and the critique is of his work. It's no different than calling a novelist insipid and unimaginative based on his prose stylings. She's not comparing his idealized self in his work to newspaper reports or a neighbor's diary and finding him wanting.

I suppose she could have said "the persona Thoreau creates in his writing and presents us with" or something but that seems unnecessary.
posted by mark k at 8:37 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I re-read Walden in 9th grade (stoned) and thought his cabin was cool, grabbed some graphpaper and made a Ravenloft scenario, the crescendo is Lycantrope Thoreau being shot at by the Bard, eA pOE; produced from a hollow copy of Hawthrone, inside, a pepperbox loaded with silver shot blessed by Washington Irving. Thus screeching:

Get off my Walden pond!
posted by clavdivs at 8:39 PM on October 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I think this article is biased because I found at least two analytical errors. And I have never even read of Thoreau or any of his work; I've watched Upstream Color and that obviously doesn't count. This article claims:

"“Not a particle of respect had he to the opinions of any man or body of men, but homage solely to the truth itself,” Emerson wrote of Thoreau. He meant it as praise, but the trouble with that position—and the deepest of all the troubles disturbing the waters of “Walden”—is that it assumes that Thoreau had some better way of discerning the truth than other people did."

plato.stanford.edu states:

"He discussed his own scientific findings with leading naturalists of the day, and read the latest work of Humboldt and Darwin with interest and admiration"

So actually, Thoreau did care for the opinions of some "men" and some "bodies of men".

Second example. The author attempts to associate him with Ayn Rand. But for philosophers that's an incredibly sophomoric reference point, because there are so many other figures scholars have and should be looking at; again from plato.stanford:

"A crucial step in Thoreau's intellectual development occurred when he “disassociated himself from Emerson's Transcendentalist view of nature as symbol” (Slicer 2013, 181), as a current scholar notes. It was suggested above that a better way of situating Thoreau within the Western philosophical tradition is to consider him a kind of transcendental idealist, in the spirit of Kant. For reasons that ought to be obvious by now, he should be of interest to students of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling—all of whom he studied at first or second hand—and possibly Schopenhauer. Thoreau was a capable and enthusiastic classicist, whose study of ancient Greek and Roman authors convinced him that philosophy ought to be a lived practice: for this reason, he can profitably be grouped with other nineteenth-century thinkers, such as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, who were critics of philosophy in the early modern period. Yet he also has the distinction of being among the first Western philosophers to be significantly influenced by ancient Chinese and Indian thought. He anticipates Bergson and Merleau-Ponty in his attention to the dynamics of the embodied mind, and shares with Peirce and James a concern for problems of knowledge as they arise within practical experience."

Come on.

And third, when the article concludes in that smug manner, I would suggest maybe the author is projecting their own political biases onto a historical text. As plato.stanford.edu clearly says:

"…whether or not this is because such prominent figures as Gandhi and Martin Luther King cited Thoreau as an inspiration, it has resulted in a disproportionate focus on what is only one part of an integral philosophy, a part that can hardly be understood in isolation from the others."

But maybe it's not Thoreau's fault that students are taught this work inappropriately. And maybe it's not his problem, if you mis-contextualize and mis-analyze the very texts involved.

That said, there are nice bits in this article that I found useful, such as the attempted comparison with Laura Ingalls Wilder. (And just to apply k-step thinking, Wilder is also considered a problematic author, for the racism in her books, by now well documented.)

New Yorker, please do your homework. I can't be doing it for you.
posted by polymodus at 8:40 PM on October 13, 2015 [26 favorites]


Thoreau will always be associated, for me, with the people I knew in college who uncritically idolized him. He had some good points, but those are overshadowed by his own issues and those of his modern admirers.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:45 PM on October 13, 2015


Ok, true story. My first poetry teacher spent some time at one his houses while in college, renovation and he knew a lady freind, well, they found an axe handle in that semi hidden fireplace place for wood. It was well jammed back in there and of course he took it. No one cared. I have a picture of it above his entryway from his book.

Something about the Ethos of theft.
posted by clavdivs at 8:47 PM on October 13, 2015


I also find "Thoreau was kind of a dick" to be an annoyingly facile summary of something more interesting than that. I don't find it particularly unforgivable for a writer to be a misanthrope, an elitist, or an anti-humanist, but it's worth examining why Thoreau is remembered in a way that minimizes the extremity (and sometime incoherence) of his ideas.
posted by atoxyl at 8:51 PM on October 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


What shall I learn of beans or beans of me? I cherish them, I hoe them, early and late I post about them; and this is my day's work. It is a fine broad plate of beans to think upon.
posted by benzenedream at 8:54 PM on October 13, 2015 [33 favorites]


I liked when she pointed out that in one place he said he hated the sound of the train then somewhere else he said he liked it. What's up with that, Hank?
posted by otio at 8:57 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I liked when she pointed out that in one place he said he hated the sound of the train then somewhere else he said he liked it. What's up with that, Hank?

Maybe it's due to Thoreau having been influenced by ancient Chinese and Indian thought.
posted by polymodus at 8:58 PM on October 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Rabid chipmunks, stagnant, w/eroded paths. Walden Pond; 2002.
On a positive note; not a lot of trash and debris.
posted by buzzman at 9:10 PM on October 13, 2015


I went through a phase of being very into the transcendentalists. Never liked Thoreau much, but I was reading a lot of Emerson. I did an independent study in school where we I was doing a close reading of the letters between Emerson and Margaret Fuller, which are obviously quite passionate. The teacher working joked that she was pretty sure Lidian Emerson didn't mind since she was having a thing with Thoreau herself.

I never looked at the four of them the same way again. No lesson here really. Transcendentalists are people too?
posted by frumiousb at 9:12 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have a strong suspicion that Thoreau today would have seen a therapist for awhile and gotten an Adderall prescription and probably would have been better off for it, but instead he's got this general dissatisfaction with life and a desire to prove he isn't a total waste of oxygen and actually do something concrete.

I think idolizing him is a huge problem, but so is demonizing him--because it causes one to read things too severely. Like, yes, he spends a moment pining after living in a shed. And yet when he actually builds the place, it is not the size of the shed he was going on about. I pine after living in a Tiny House. Guess what I don't do? But it would be nice. It would be simpler. I need to have less stuff. I need to stop caring so much about what my mother thinks. Why do I own fifteen pairs of shoes? I should get a Tiny House and be the sort of person who only owns three pairs of pants and one good cooking knife. I own way more pairs of pants than that. I think I have two different Amazon tabs open this very moment.

such are my engagements to myself, that I dare not promise.

She criticizes him for this. This makes him a jerk. I wonder if she's an extrovert. This is a guy who needed to recharge. Who needed to feel like he had some self-control. Who needed to strip away distractions and focus, but was aware that he could focus too strongly on just about anything. AskMe routinely tells people that they need to learn to say no to things they'd really rather not do, instead of going and making themselves miserable and making everybody else miserable at the time. His major crime seems to be not making excuses.

I don't think that wanting to be him is a particularly good idea, but this is awfully harsh. A lot of it amounts to expecting him to be inhumanly consistent, and a lot of chiding him for not liking people very much, without any particular reason why he ought to. I think it's entirely right to point out that he's inconsistent, that he thinks too much of himself sometimes, and that doing what he did is not a recipe to make friends and influence people. But that doesn't make him a bad human being. Taking little bits and pieces here and there and using them to condemn a person is something that would work on nearly anyone, especially if you can be hung for such sins as "not enough energy to make social plans" and "inconsistent opinions on trains".
posted by Sequence at 9:18 PM on October 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


Transcendentalists are people too?

An interesting book about the era is American Bloomsbury. It goes into these relationships, which were complex, in detail but not in a salacious way.

I also encountered most of these critiques studying American literature in college, so it's not much of a takedown - the "half a mile from a chicken dinner" one probably being the most tired - and I can recall feeling a bit this way. These days I am down with critiquing Thoreau, have at it, but not with dismissing him. This work - all of it, not just Walden - has ended up being pretty significant in our culture, and not for no reason. I don't know if I like Walden or don't like it - I sure like some of the more lyrical elements, and I recognize the brayings of a 20something convinced of his own brilliance in others - but I know I am glad I know it.
posted by Miko at 9:22 PM on October 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


The author attempts to associate him with Ayn Rand.

Yeah, that's unfortunate, as are the references to "American democracy" as if it were some kind of counterpoint. I mean, "suspicious of government" just doesn't cover it really. "The poor, the rich, his neighbors, his admirers, strangers: Thoreau’s antipathy toward humanity even encompassed the very idea of civilization." That's more like it. You've gotta get tough if you want to argue against Thoreau; weak appeals to democracy don't cut it.
posted by sfenders at 9:24 PM on October 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Looks like the pot calling the kettle "élitist" to me.
posted by papayaninja at 9:39 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


God-damnit Bill.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:41 PM on October 13, 2015


Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole.

Not like you.
posted by mykescipark at 9:56 PM on October 13, 2015


This is so amazingly churlish and dumb in its glib contrarianism that it's hard to believe it's not a Slate piece. Didn't the New Yorker used to employ people who knew things about intellectual history, or who could read with less of a tin ear for irony?
posted by RogerB at 10:30 PM on October 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


"I have set fire to the forest, but I have done no wrong therein, and now it is as if the lightning had done it."

Uncomfortably oedipal for the heir to a pencil fortune, perhaps.
posted by jamjam at 10:40 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mod note: Couple of comments deleted. Critique the article, go for it; namecalling people in the thread, not great.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:01 PM on October 13, 2015


What's with these Thoreau takedown writers and their inability to read Cape Cod well? It's a witty, sometimes misanthropic, sometimes warm, book, and Thoreau has more of a gift for deflating his own cantankerous poses than any writer I've read, but, sheesh, you wouldn't know it from this.
posted by thetortoise at 11:26 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am tickled to learn that the author's previous book is called Being Wrong.
posted by thetortoise at 11:28 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have a strong suspicion that Thoreau today would have seen a therapist for awhile and gotten an Adderall prescription and probably would have been better off for it...

And would never have written a line of prose worth remembering. Obviously the guy had issues which cannot be divorced from his writings - what writer doesn't? - but the idea that one HAS to read this into his work deprives the reader of having his or her own fantasy inspired - or repulsed- by the words alone.
posted by three blind mice at 12:05 AM on October 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


The always entertaining Maciej Ceglowski on some stuff we can take away from Thoreau, even though he was, as Maciej puts it, "a bit of a phony."

You Can't You Won't You Don't Stop at XOXO Fest 2013: video and the slides and script.
posted by troyer at 12:15 AM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's interesting to see that Ayn Rand has emerged as the gold standard of self-absorbed narcissistic dickishness, the figure a comparison is made to whenever the case is made that someone is an asshole.

Perhaps soon there will be a corollary to Godwin's Law, only for egotistical sociopathy rather than outright genocidal evil, and with Hitler replaced by Rand.
posted by acb at 3:02 AM on October 14, 2015


I don't think we will get very far by judging philosophers by how well they held to their philosophies. The philosophies they espoused were ideals to be striven for and the true measure should be the actions they later inspire. In which case, we can see they have payed off.

P.S. I would have preferred descriptive words over repeating dick over and over, but that's click bait for you.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 3:11 AM on October 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


How unusual, another Dead White Male dickhead! Who would have thought......
posted by mermayd at 3:30 AM on October 14, 2015


I liked when she pointed out that in one place he said he hated the sound of the train then somewhere else he said he liked it. What's up with that, Hank?

The tracks ran about 100 feet from his cabin at the west end of the Pond, and steam engines of the time were very noisy and smelly. Maybe when he was down at the east end of the Pond, he could appreciate the sight and sound of the train passing on the western embankment, because of the added distance. Maybe that's why the state built the replica of his cabin on the other side of Rte 126, to the east of the Pond.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:33 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


For something more thoughtful and less Slatepitchy (though not at all hagiographic), here's a 1988 piece by Joyce Carol Oates on Walden.

[Thoreau] is the most controversial of American writers. Whether he writes with oneiric precision of thawing earth, or a ferocious war between red and black ants, or the primeval beauty of Mount Katahdin in Maine, or in angry defense of the martyred John Brown (''I do not wish to kill or be killed but I can foresee circumstances in which both of these things would be by me unavoidable''), he asserts himself with such force that the reader is compelled to react: what compromise is possible?
posted by thetortoise at 3:40 AM on October 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


This impassive witness also had stern words for those who, undone by the tragedy, could no longer enjoy strolling along the beach. Surely, he admonished, “its beauty was enhanced by wrecks like this, and it acquired thus a rarer and sublimer beauty still.”
Isn't this a Romanticism thing—life shattered on the rocks of dispassionate yet capricious nature is like so deep, man!

A college friend of mine grew up in Massachusetts and she liked to point out (as the OP article does) how close Thoreau's "cabin in the woods" was to his parents' house and that he probably had his mom do his laundry.
posted by XMLicious at 3:42 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
posted by Sir Rinse at 4:29 AM on October 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds and the essential guardian angel of great minds, none of the foregoing and all of the foregoing. Only not.
posted by Segundus at 4:37 AM on October 14, 2015


And vice versa, of course.
posted by jfuller at 4:41 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, if the thread is approaching the recipes level, here's Thoreau's Hazelnut Raisin Bread.
posted by jfuller at 4:46 AM on October 14, 2015


Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
-- Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
posted by Sir Rinse at 4:52 AM on October 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


I have a strong suspicion that Thoreau today would have seen a therapist for awhile and gotten an Adderall prescription and probably would have been better off for it, but instead he's got this general dissatisfaction with life and a desire to prove he isn't a total waste of oxygen and actually do something concrete.

Really? I'm not sure this is the case. I mean apart from the difficulty of prescribing drugs to dead authors over time and space, feeling deep existential dread and wanting to remedy that by doing something meaningful with yourself is not really a sign you need medication.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:04 AM on October 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


I know I could never live up to this sort of scrutiny.

Almost makes you want to go live alone in the woods.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:08 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, I don't in any way want to drag someone around in the gutter, but on the other, this guy and his contemporaries are dead and their legacy still impacts us.

My own beef is with the ideologies of Emerson, Self Reliance? He was able to be "self reliant" because his aunt saved his ass and his whole family, a woman who was no doubt equal or better than him in wit and intelligence and whose name is nearly forgotten in comparison to him- one who raged against his ridiculous notions of self-reliance BUILT ON THE WORK OF WOMEN who literally carried the sick, the suffering and the needy BECAUSE WE ARENOT SELF RELIANT you fucking arrogant ignorant twit.

So when my entire community has happily thrown me to the horrors of infant adoption and I'm in unbearable pain screaming and crying and I have to drop out of college due to the PTSD and my roommate offers me a copy of "Self Reliance" because she thinks a human in unbearable pain needs to focus on more "self Reliance" I will say fuck whatever individual or cultural bullshit leads people to think this is ok.

It wasn't ok in his time and it's not ok now.

Fuck it.

I even like the bloke, we ALL have bullshit, no one is a pure hero, so let's DO assess what ideologies we idealize. Please.
posted by xarnop at 5:15 AM on October 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


Mary Moody was a bad-ass. "Without the bridges" indeed my dear.

Self reliance built on the backs of the labor of others and privileges not available to vast quantities of the population at the time or now.
posted by xarnop at 5:17 AM on October 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Is this news? I took a course on Transcendentalism back in the 80s and one of the take-aways was that Thoreau was a dick. Even his friends, who were also dicks, thought he was a dick.
posted by lagomorphius at 5:20 AM on October 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Thoreau was very important to me in junior high school. I was idealistic, I thought everyone else was superficial, and I was the most content alone, outside in the rural are where I lived, or out in the woods. In social situations, like at school or with my family, and sometimes even with my friends, I felt like I didn't quite belong anywhere. That there had been a writer who liked to be alone with trees and a pond, and who was once jailed for not supporting a war, and that he eventually became respected & valued enough that he influenced movement leaders & was still talked about, gave me some reassurance that it was okay to be how I was.

But I'm also kind of a dick, so...
posted by univac at 5:22 AM on October 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Thoreau was very important to me in junior high school. I was idealistic, I thought everyone else was superficial...
“Walden” is a staple of the high-school curriculum, and you could scarcely write a book more appealing to teen-agers: Thoreau endorses rebellion against societal norms, champions idleness over work, and gives his readers permission to ignore their elders. (“Practically, the old have no very important advice to give the young, their own experience has been so partial, and their lives have been such miserable failures.”) “Walden” is also fundamentally adolescent in tone: Thoreau shares the conviction, far more developmentally appropriate and forgivable in teens, that everyone else’s certainties are wrong while one’s own are unassailable. Moreover, he presents adulthood not as it is but as kids wishfully imagine it: an idyll of autonomy, unfettered by any civic or familial responsibilities.
posted by Mister Bijou at 5:37 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


xarnop, that same Wikipedia article has Ralph Waldo Emerson as the greatest champion of her work and her as his chief influence, so I'm not sure of the utility of the zero-sum approach...
posted by thetortoise at 5:41 AM on October 14, 2015


Dude? A single pull quote about beans?


No no no a thousand times no. It should be a chapter, a long one, with barely a paragraph break.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:49 AM on October 14, 2015


Meh. This is a mean article written in bad faith.
posted by univac at 5:55 AM on October 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I also encountered most of these critiques studying American literature in college, so it's not much of a takedown ...

Well, I did, too. But let's not flaunt our educational privilege here. Readers who want to consume literary history as reality TV—who's "nice," who's "a dick," etc.—also want to be catered to. Now take Thomas Carlyle for example:—and I could say "Thomas Carlyle" to 10 people on the street and probably 8 or 9 of them would have no idea who I was talking about—he was a huge dick by the standards of our time. Why, even by the standards of his time. Look him up! I commend the life of Thomas Carlyle to any one who's looking for more grist for this particular mill.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:57 AM on October 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


So Thoreau was the original Bear Grylls, sneaking into lavish hotels when the camera wasn't running? At least Kerouac stayed on the mountain for a couple of months during Desolation Angels, and also owned up to the fact that he was really bored a lot of the time.
posted by kersplunk at 6:02 AM on October 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why must comments badmouth old white writers? Thoreau wrote at a time when these were the main writers, though not the only ones. I think the gist of the article is on target: Thoreau sought moral clarity rather than the simplicity that is what we now seek and find in him. But the author of this article focuses upon Walden, mostly.

That said, read the later Thoreau when he becomes more the scientific naturalist and you will find he is in the beautiful tradition of American nature/science writers.
"... He discussed his own scientific findings with leading naturalists of the day, and read the latest work of Humboldt and Darwin with interest and admiration. His philosophical explorations of self and world led him to develop an epistemology of embodied perception and a non-dualistic account of mental and material life. In addition to his focus on ethics in an existential spirit, Thoreau also makes unique contributions to ontology, the philosophy of science, and radical political thought. Although his political essays have become justly famous, his works on natural science were not even published until the late twentieth century, and they help to give us a more complete picture of him as a thinker. Among the texts he left unfinished was a set of manuscript volumes filled with information on Native American religion and culture. Thoreau's work anticipates certain later developments in pragmatism, phenomenology, and environmental philosophy, and poses a perennially valuable challenge to our conception of the methods and intentions of philosophy itself."
posted by Postroad at 6:24 AM on October 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Louisa May Alcott idolized him to the point that Professor Bhaer in Little Women and its sequels is based on him.
posted by brujita at 6:28 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thoreau/Franzen slashfic. Make it happen, internet.
posted by ostranenie at 6:43 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


HOW TO CRITIQUE

1. Read a book. (If pressed for time, skip this step and google "[author] quotations" instead. In a real pinch, just read the title.)
2. Make a note of any passages (or, if reading only the title, any words) that seem confusing, contradictory, obscure, morally distressing, or otherwise unadmirable.
3. Also make a note of one or two passages/words that you like.
4. Rephrase the passages/words noted in step 2 in such a way that all subtlety, irony and complexity are removed. Ask yourself, "What would this passage look like if a dumb 16-year-old had written it?"
5. Condemn, harshly and at length, the stupidity and turpitude of the results of step 4. Where possible, note their deviance from such timeless and inarguable values as "democracy" and "community."
6. Towards the end of your critique, mention the one or two likable things you noted in step 3. (No need to rephrase, analyze or even quote anything at this point.) This may seem like an afterthought, but this step is crucial. As of step 5, your essay was a contrarian hatchet job. Now, it's a balanced reassessment.

If at any point in the process you start to question your life choices, just remember:
* You're writing an essay for a general audience, not a goddamn research paper for the PMLA. Measured judgements, nuanced assessments, such things would be out of place. Slop them hogs!
* There are only two possible reactions to a piece of writing: "Hurray!" and "Boo!" All criticism is just a more-or-less-entertaining periphrasis of one of those reactions.
* People don't really care about books. They care about feeling good about themselves. And why shouldn't they feel good about themselves? Your essay will make people think "Hey, I sure am a better person than that Thoreau asshole!" You're doing your readers a great service.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 6:45 AM on October 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Rebecca Solnit on Thoreau's laundry. Because every MeFi discussion of Transcendentalists has to come back to this sooner or later.
posted by thetortoise at 6:47 AM on October 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


ostranenie: or "shipping" Thoreau/Schultz
posted by Sir Rinse at 6:48 AM on October 14, 2015


All my 19th-century American lit slashfic is Hawthorne/Melville.
posted by thetortoise at 6:52 AM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


clvrmnky: Thoreau was so derivative. Repeating Pink Floyd lyrics and passing it off as his originals. What a poseur.

Start reading Walden from page 52 after the third roar of the MGM lion at the beginning of the Wizard of Oz and prepare to have your MIND BLOWN.
posted by dr_dank at 6:55 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fucking woods burner.
posted by maryr at 6:57 AM on October 14, 2015


A college friend of mine grew up in Massachusetts and she liked to point out (as the OP article does) how close Thoreau's "cabin in the woods" was to his parents' house and that he probably had his mom do his laundry.

Everybody points this out, like it's a big gotcha. I could have sworn I have had this conversation before on MetaFilter, though I can't find it - maybe it was MetaChat - but I fail to see how his cabin not being far enough away from town and his interest in visiting friends and family while living there makes his entire ouvre corrupt. It's a cheap shot. He wanted to live simply, and for a time, he really did - much more than many people do now or did (intentionally) then. He did it so he could write and could pay attention and he made a book about it that is still interesting, even if it's a bit frothy in the way that young idealistic men can be. And I certainly agree that Walden - though it became his dominant work in the modern mind - may not be his best nature writing, and that you can look at Civil Disobedience as bratty and entitled instead of as a central text of the Civil Rights movement - but Thoreau remains a titan of American literature who changed our intellectual history, as have many of the other people in the Emerson circle, even though they were flawed human beings who lived in their times, did things that people ostracized them for then, too, and fail to be entirely consistent and admirable at all times. I wish our criticism could get beyond the level of "dick" and "he ate a chicken dinner, the hypocrite" and consider him more deeply - and I'm really sad this article doesn't do that and is in the New Yorker, where (I agree) it doesn't belong.

There's something ironic about it all. A contemporary Thoreau would writing scathing rants for online magazines and we'd link to him constantly here for speaking truth to power and taking down the stuffed shirts and so on. We might not all like him but we'd sure as hell know who he is. But because he's in the past and a staple of literature curricula, it's cooler instead to hate on him.
posted by Miko at 7:01 AM on October 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


Thoreau annoyed me ever since high school, when I learned that a man who wrote an entire book proclaiming the virtues of self-reliance, nature, solitude, and the virtues of independence was living on land owned by a buddy of his who regularly invited him over to dinner.

Ndwright, you left out "who had his mommy do his laundry while he was being so 'self-sufficient'."
posted by IAmBroom at 7:01 AM on October 14, 2015


If Thoreau had his laundry done by mommy, house built by workers from Home Depot, never married, etc. he would still be one of our great thinkers, writers for Civil Disobedience. This work after all, comes before Martin Luther King, Ghandi, etc and focuses directly upon what is still lingering cancer sore on America: slavery and its aftermath.

"Thoreau tells his audience that they cannot blame this problem solely on pro-slavery Southern politicians, but must put the blame on those in, for instance, Massachusetts, "who are more interested in commerce and agriculture than they are in humanity, and are not prepared to do justice to the slave and to Mexico, cost what it may... There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them."[9] (See also: Thoreau's Slavery in Massachusetts which also advances this argument.)

He exhorts people not to just wait passively for an opportunity to vote for justice, because voting for justice is as ineffective as wishing for justice; what you need to do is to actually be just. This is not to say that you have an obligation to devote your life to fighting for justice, but you do have an obligation not to commit injustice and not to give injustice your practical support.
posted by Postroad at 7:12 AM on October 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


"he ate a chicken dinner, the hypocrite"

That makes him a winner winner in my book.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:18 AM on October 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


How unusual, another Dead White Male dickhead!

how droll!
posted by thelonius at 7:31 AM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


At least he wasn't a Moby dick.

Most American book: Moby Dick. A violent man has a confusing revenge fantasy against a cheap source of oil.
posted by DreamerFi at 7:45 AM on October 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


Whenever I hear complaints about famous people being "torn down," what I hear is that someone was caught out in a hypocrisy that was used to present an image that appealed to very many people, and now that hypocrisy is becoming widely known.

The thing about Thoreau is that what's unappealing about him is all right there in the book. As the article points out, though, most people haven't read it. I still love Walden—I like Thoreau's writing—but he sure is a joyless ascetic. I can never think of answers to the "what famous person from history would you like to have dinner with?" but I am vehement that part of my answer is "NOT Henry David Thoreau!"
posted by not that girl at 7:48 AM on October 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have never read Walden, though I have always meant to. I probably won't bother now.

Don't let the article or this thread dissuade you. It's not a bad book. I've read it twice and didn't end up worshiping Thoreau or becoming a strident individualist. It's just a guy ranting about the problems of modern society (as he saw it, in the mid-1800s) and the ensuing downfall of civilization; so not unlike many MetaFilter threads.
posted by rocket88 at 8:40 AM on October 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I like Thoreau's writing—but he sure is a joyless ascetic.

You do get the impression that Thoreau might've been an easy man to admire and a tough one to like. More than a few anecdotes suggest that he was a man in no doubt of his own virtue. Why this has not made him the patron saint of internet commenters I do not know.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:49 AM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


So Thoreau was the original Bear Grylls, sneaking into lavish hotels when the camera wasn't running?

Except I think if that had been the point, to prove that he was Rugged, I think he would have left town, you know? He would have expected his readers to know damned well where Walden Pond was and that it was not, like, a month's journey from civilization. I think he doesn't belabor his doing things with civilization because he doesn't see anything worth really lauding about it, but I think that his brand of self-reliance is meant to establish that he's capable of doing something worth doing, not that he needs nothing at all from civilization. I think the people who, at the time, were interested in what he was doing at Walden Pond would have considered the Bear Grylls kind of thing absolutely insane. It's not like he didn't have the option of going further from home. He published the book in 1854. I think the average reader of Walden would have known the difference between going to a spot near Concord and going to, say, North Dakota.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

That's what he says. Not, "I went to the woods because I wished to prove I was so fantastic that society was dragging down what I was capable of achieving." He's not the proto-prepper. He is possibly the proto-hipster who makes his own beer because it Feels More Authentic but then grabs McDonald's for lunch when he's in a hurry.
posted by Sequence at 8:54 AM on October 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


I went right off Walden when my English teacher told us Thoreau's aunt ended up paying a lot of his tax fines, enabling his pretension of civil disobedience. It made me so mad!
Gah!
No idea if it's true, though.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:29 PM on October 14, 2015


He would've had to hike to Maynard or Acton to get McDonald's.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:35 PM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know the lead is buried in a book reference which may not have worked to correctly direct you to the part of the book that discusses Mary's feelings about Self Reliance but I've read a great deal about it and she was very vocal in her ire for this work of his. In that book they mention that nothing invoked her wrath more than "Self Reliance" and on the Wikipedia page for Emerson it was written that His aunt called it a "strange medley of atheism and false independence", but it gained favorable reviews in London and Paris."

I was curious about this and read a great deal about it and it does sound she was very displeased with him about this though she appears to have loved him greatly, and as I mentioned I like what I know of him myself- that's nothing to do with thinking someone is wrong about something harmful that has pervaded our culture as some sort of "profound truth" and influenced bad public policies and poor treatment of our fellow beings and it's worth challenging.

If Emerson had himself been a woman, so poor as to be unable to stay at a pond writing in a journal about self reliance, or in need, I dare say he would have challenged his own ignorance himself because I have no doubt he was awesome like that, but we all have our blind spots and it's worth pointing them out rather than resisting defensively the idea that the very foundation of our hero's ethics might in fact be false or at least misguided and incomplete in a way that is harmful without pointing out a fuller perspective.

I like Emerson and I like Thoreau and I loved reading Walden and I loved reading their works and their histories in highschool and I am so very glad they loved nature and promoted a love of nature and I am so very glad promoted a simply lifestyle in harmony with the land and all that... I LOVE so much they had to say and yet there are some things I disagree with that I fail to see challenged when discussing them-- and that I fail to see challenged when promoted as ideals in our communities as well. And that sucks. Emerson relied heavily on his Aunt and his mother in times of need, calling his Aunt a "muse" when she should have been considered an equal.

So in the spirit of speaking truth to power as I believe both Emerson and Thoreau really did hold dear I think they would appreciate my commentary, or at least that they should.

And, given that Emerson has released the yoke of men's opinions, I gather he'll be ok. In releasing our earthly shackles I imagine it is not only some but all of us who will look back on many of our earthly deeds in horror that such things occurred by our hands- to find we erred is not such a bad thing. But if we want to improve things around here, swiping it all under the rug to avoid a tarnished reputation (especially for the dead!) is silly and ineffective.
posted by xarnop at 2:11 PM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


But the essay is about intellectual self-reliance, like following your own convictions. I'm all for criticism of Emerson and Thoreau, and there's certainly much to be examined there in terms of sexism, but I don't think the essay is dismissing women's work in the way you're claiming. The form of self-reliance he espouses is historically more available to men, but that has more to do with the systematic oppression of women-- with depriving them of education and devaluing their ideas-- than with anything Emerson is writing. Mary Moody Emerson's explicitly religious critique makes more sense to me because, as with his Divinity School Address, it lands close to heresy.

I mean, I'm really not into the maintenance of the white male canon's reputation, but I love these works and reread them frequently, and this whole thread breaks my heart a bit. Thoreau didn't just oppose slavery and write "Civil Disobedience" by accident because he wasn't acting like a douche that day.
posted by thetortoise at 3:04 PM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think, unfortunately, he touched on many types of self-reliance and disregarded the interdependent nature of human beings pretty plainly.
"Then, again, do not tell me, as a good man did to-day, of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor? I tell thee, thou foolish philanthropist, that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent, I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong. "
posted by xarnop at 3:38 PM on October 14, 2015


The section on "Civil Disobedience" is particularly embarrassing. There is a hard dilemma there but she seems to think she refuted his arguments with the example of Kim Davis and a half-assed appeal to the democratic process: "It is the point of democracy to adjudicate among such conflicting claims through some means other than fiat or force, but Thoreau was not interested in that process." How was slavery abolished in America, I wonder?

It's equally bizarre when she says Thoreau is a forebear to Ayn Rand and then offers Laura Ingalls Wilder (who is great and wonderful and completely different) as an antidote, a writer to whom Rand had a rather more direct connection.
posted by otio at 3:44 PM on October 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think, unfortunately, he touched on many types of self-reliance and disregarded the interdependent nature of human beings pretty plainly.
"Then, again, do not tell me, as a good man did to-day, of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor? I tell thee, thou foolish philanthropist, that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent, I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong. "


I'm not fond of that part and think it has aged poorly, but in context I don't read that as a general condemnation of helping others. It's preceded immediately by criticism of churches, missionary institutions, and philanthropy rooted in malice and vanity, and followed by a call not to conform and do good works as though you are paying a fine. I read this as especially relevant in this age when people make vast profits from founding unethical businesses and then "make things right" by establishing charity foundations. (Anyway, I feel like I'm sitting on this thread too much, so I'm going to take Thoreau's advice to seek solitude.)
posted by thetortoise at 4:13 PM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've always thought of Walden as being a funny book, Thoreau's tongue half in cheek. He writes as if sincere, but knowing what we know, he was either winking at us or he really was a dick. I'm not sure we have the evidence which it was.
posted by rikschell at 6:20 PM on October 14, 2015


A lot of it is him taking the piss. And it really is funny in spots. I went to a great theatrical program a couple years ago that distilled the book into a 45-minute, one man performance, which was really well done. I was surprised at how many laugh lines there were.
posted by Miko at 6:36 PM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Finally got around to this; it's one of the best takedowns I've ever read, and consolidates all the vaguely negative feelings I've been accumulating over the years about Thoreau (whose tongue was never in his cheek). I'll always value him for his fierce opposition to slavery and for "Civil Disobedience," but I sure wouldn't have wanted to hang out with him.
posted by languagehat at 3:10 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Everybody Hates Henry "Literary saint or arrogant fraud— why do we need Thoreau to be one or the other?"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:27 AM on October 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


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