Monday, September 28, 2009

craving reality

Garrison Keillor was talking about reality biting him in the butt. In his own more elegant nineteenth-century Transcendentalist way of speaking, that's what Henry Thoreau was talking about too. Face-to-face is better. But I'm not sure "we crave only reality" still, here in the 21st century. Reality tee-vee, maybe. Welcome to the cave. (Speaking of which: check out the ursine version of Henry, it's an inspiration. The reality of work need not be drudgery, he reminds us.)

"Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord, through Church and State, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we
come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake; and then begin, having a point d'appui, below freshet and frost and fire, a place where you might found a wall or a state, or set a lamp-post safely, or perhaps a gauge, not a Nilometer, but a Realometer, that future ages might know how deep a freshet of shams and appearances had gathered from time to time. If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a cimeter, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business." Walden

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