„Walden“, de Henry David Thoreau, discipol al unui alt mare filosof transcendentalist – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
„Walden” este povestea celor doi ani și două luni trăite de Thoreau pe malul lacului Walden din Massachusetts, singur, într-o micuță cabană de lemn construită chiar de el, la o milă depărtare de cel mai apropiat vecin.
Pe lângă unde și cum a trăit, pe decursul poveștii, Thoreau ne prezintă și filosofia sa de viață, cea a unui trai simplist, în sânul naturii.
Prima abordare a lui Thoreau în privința traiului simplist vine în cazul îmbrăcăminții, pe care acesta sugerează să o schimbăm doar atunci când noi înșine suntem schimbați – haine noi pentru oameni noi.
„I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit? If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes. All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.
Perhaps we should never procure a new suit, however ragged or dirty the old, until we have so conducted, so enterprised or sailed in some way, that we feel like new men in the old, and that to retain it would be like keeping new wine in old bottles.”
Thoreau nu se oprește aici și alege să satirizeze superficialitate înfățișării exterioare de care oamenii se preocupă atât de mult, în contrast cu lucrurile cu adevărat importante, cum ar fi conștiința sau integritatea fizică și mentală. În partea a doua a citatului de mai jos, Thoreau face o distincție fundamentală între ceea ce este respectabil și ceea ce oamenii consideră că este demn de respect.
„No man ever stood the lower in my estimation for having a patch in his clothes; yet I am sure that there is greater anxiety, commonly, to have fashionable, or at least clean and unpatched clothes, than to have a sound conscience. (…) Most behave as if they believed that their prospects for life would be ruined if they should do it. It would be easier for them to hobble to town with a broken leg than with a broken pantaloon.
Often if an accident happens to a gentleman’s legs, they can be mended; but if a similar accident happens to the legs of his pantaloons, there is no help for it; for he considers, not what is truly respectable, but what is respected.”
Despre naturalism și viața în afara pereților de zi cu zi, filosoful ne spune „at last, we know not what it is to live in the open air, and our lives are domestic in more senses than we think. From the hearth to the field is a great distance. It would be well perhaps if we were to spend more of our days and nights without any obstruction between us and the celestial bodies, if the poet did not speak so much from under a roof, or the saint dwell there so long. Birds do not sing in caves, nor do doves cherish their innocence in dovecots.”
Când vine vorba de felul în care și-a organizat cabana și de lucrurile care se află în ea, Thoreau povestește cum traiul pe care și l-a ales este atât de simplist încât refuză cadoul unui covor, pentru a nu-și complica timpul cu nevoia de a-l scutura.
„I would observe, by the way, that it costs me nothing for curtains, for I have no gazers to shut out but the sun and moon, and I am willing that they should look in. The moon will not sour milk nor taint meat of mine, nor will the sun injure my furniture or fade my carpet, and if he is sometimes too warm a friend, I find it still better economy to retreat behind some curtain which nature has provided, than to add a single item to the details of housekeeping.
A lady once offered me a mat, but as I had no room to spare within the house, nor time to spare within or without to shake it, I declined it, preferring to wipe my feet on the sod before my door.”
Acum poate te întrebi de ce s-ar izola cineva de lume și mai ales de ce în felul ăsta. Uite de ce:
„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. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
Despre importanța de a citi și de a citi asumat, de a percepe mental și spiritual ceea ce citești:
„To read well, that is, to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise, and one that will task the reader more than any exercise which the customs of the day esteem. It requires a training such as the athletes underwent, the steady intention almost of the whole life to this object. Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.”
Și despre diferența dintre limbajul oral, pe care-l înveți mecanic, și limbajul scris, care e cultivat și trăit:
„..between the spoken and the written language, the language heart and the language read. The one is commonly transitory, a sound, a tongue, a dialect merely, almost brutish, and we learn it unconsciously, like the brutes, of our mothers.
The other is the maturity and experience of that; if that is our mother tongue, this is our father tongue. a reserved and selected expression, too significant to be heard by the ear, which we must be born again in order to speak.”
Pe la jumătatea cărții, Thoreau spune povestea arestării sale, bazată pe faptul că refuzase să-și plătească taxele pentru a nu susține un stat al sclaviei și al războiului. Thoreau a fost eliberat după ce, împotriva voinței sale, altcineva a plătit banii pe care-i datora statului.
„One afternoon, near the end of the first summer, when I went to the village to get a shoe from the cobbler’s, I was seized and put into jail, because, as I have elsewhere related, I did not pay a tax to, or recognize the authority of, the state which buys and sells men, women, and children, like cattle at the door of its senate-house. I had gone down to the woods for other purposes.
But, wherever a man goes, men will pursue and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they can, constrain him to belong to their desperate odd-fellow society. It is true, I might have resisted forcibly with more or less effect, might have run “amok” against society; but I preferred that society should run “amok” against me, it being the desperate party. However, I was released the next day, obtained my mended shoe, and returned to the woods in season to get my dinner of huckleberries on Fair-Haven Hill.”
Thoreau abordează și subiectul vegetarianismului. În mod rațional și obiectiv, nu neagă că omul este omnivor, însă constată că urmarea acestei stări de fapt, mai ales când există alternative, este echivalent cu a trăi în mizerie.
„It may be vain to ask why the imagination will not be reconciled to flesh and fat. I am satisfied that it is not. Is it not a reproach that man is a carnivorous animal? True, he can and does live, in a great measure, by preying on other animals; but this is a miserable way,—as any one who will go to snaring rabbits, or slaughtering lambs, may learn,—and he will be regarded as a benefactor of his race who shall teach man to confine himself to a more innocent and wholesome diet.
Whatever my own practice may be, I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.”
Și să nu uităm ce spune Thoreau: „The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
„Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, and obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board.”