16 September 2013

Opposed to Life Itself

Alas for America, as I must so often say, the ungirt, the 
diffuse, the profuse, procumbent, one wide ground 
juniper, out of which no cedar, no oak will rear up a mast 
to the clouds! It all runs to leaves, to suckers, to tendrils, 
to miscellany. The air is loaded with poppy, with im- 
becility, with dispersion and sloth. 

Eager, solicitous, hungry, rabid, busy-bodied America 
attempting many things, vain, ambitious to feel thy own 
existence, and convince others of thy talent, by attempt- 
ing and hastily accomplishing much; yes, catch thy 
breath and correct thyself, and failing here, prosper out 
there; speed and fever are never greatness; but reliance 
and serenity and waiting. 

--Emerson, Journals 1847


This world is a place of business. What an infinite bustle! I am awaked almost every night by the panting of the locomotive.  It interrupts my dreams. There is no sabbath. It would be glorious to see mankind at leisure for once. It is nothing but work, work, work. I cannot easily buy a blank-book to write thoughts in; they are commonly ruled for dollars and cents. An Irishman, seeing me making a minute in the fields, took it for granted that I was calculating my wages. If a man was tossed out of a window when an infant, and so made a cripple for life, or scared out of his wits by the Indians, it is regretted chiefly because he was thus incapacitated for — business! I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business.

--Thoreau, "Live Without Principle," 1854

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