Nature & Photography: Walden by, Henry David Thoreau Review

Henry David Thoreau Photo credit: Courtesy of Concord Free Public Library

Henry David Thoreau
Photo credit: Courtesy of Concord Free Public Library

Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, was written about the events and ideas that came to him during his time living at Walden Pond (near Concord, Massachusetts, which is owned by his spiritual mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson) for a two-year project in the eighteen hundred. Thoreau was a poet, philosopher, essayist, etc. who lived a life of simplicity in order to make a direct connection between people, God, and nature.

He says he lived in Walden for 26 months, and then moved back to “civilized society” (Walden)—acknowledging that this was not a permanent lifestyle choice, but only an experiment in living. He viewed knowledge as an "intuitive force rather than a set of learned, logical proofs."(Walden) His writing in Walden focused on many different themes, including the relationship between light and dark, the ideas and importance of nature, the meaning of progress, the importance of detail, and the relationship between the mind and body.

“Thoreau moves quickly to the moral of his experiment: to illustrate the benefits of a simplified lifestyle. He tells us he is recounting the rudimentary existence he led there so that others might see the virtue of it. He argues that excess possessions not only require excess labor to purchase them, but also oppress us spiritually with worry and constraint. “(Shmoop)

He also developed many philosophical ideas concerning knowing yourself, living simply and deliberately, and seeking the truth. Before setting out on his journey, he describes the reactions of people to news of his project, noting their concern for his well-being out in the wilderness, their worry about his health in the winter, their shock that anyone would willingly forsake human companionship, and occasionally their envy.

Thoreau philosophies were as stated, "it is best to want less," and that "there is no point in living if it is not deliberate." What he meant by living deliberately, was that we should be giving each part of our lives attention, whether in observation of humans or nature and living during "all moments of life." He believed that humans had only four basic necessities: “food, shelter, clothing, and fuel.” The object of each of these necessities is to "conserve an individual’s energy."

He also believed that "gluttony is bad," and so we should "only content ourselves with possessions that we need."