Even more on Thoreau: his relevance

Mists on the Riverss

William Eaton, in his interesting comment (see Zeteo, October 22, comment on my “Thoreau Bashing”) suggests that despite Thoreau’s trenchant criticisms of antebellum American society and despite the aesthetic appeal of his experiments in self-examination and simplified living, ultimately his nostrums have almost no relevance to the multiple and gathering crises of our own society. Thoreau has been read by countless high school and college students and is today the focus of a significant academic industry; yet his influence, when it comes down to it, is pretty much restricted to personal edification and enables no significant perspective or action vis-a-vis the “engines” that dominate us and drive our conformity.

I don’t wish to speak for Eaton, but I get the impression that by…

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