Monday, April 30, 2007

What reason does not know: Henry Hikes to Fitchburg

Here is a link to Emily's blog, which has a posting on a children's book on Thoreau:

What reason does not know: Henry Hikes to Fitchburg

for Concord, too, lies under the sun

Willammete River


If rivers carry the current of human thought, then why not the Concord? Why wouldn't a "vigorous shove" launch Thoreau, as well as anyOdysseus, on an epic journey? Working, as I do, in a small college, I love this line anew when I re-encounter it. Here at Marylhurst, along the sleepy Willamette, I read Thoreau's words as a challenge. We are far from any centers of intellectual thought, but the river runs by our campus, no less than the Mississippi, the Ganges, the Nile, to quote Thoreau . . . or the Concord. We can walk, we can read, we can launch our boat on our own river. As Thoreau says in his discussion of the "fish principle," the "seeds of the lives of fishes are everywhere disseminated." For Marylhurst, too, lies under the sun.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Beginning the Week

Thoreau's A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers is one of the most beautiful, haunting works of American literature. It has been described as rambling and incoherent and, well, it is sometimes true. But it is also lyrical, philosophical, poetic, and dream-like. I'll be using this blog to think about Thoreau's Week in conjuction with my Hypertext and Literature class at Marylhurst University. It is my dream to create a hypertext edition of A Week.

I've been thinking lately about Lacan's connection of puns and word play with the unconscious and the way, it seems to me, in which Thoreau uses word play as a means to explore the undercurrents (so to speak) of his physical, intellectual and literary journey. There is the ever present image of the fish in this journey, those flitting, almost-seen shadows.

Thoreau writes: "It is worth the while to make a voyage up this stream, if you go no further than Sudbury, only to see how much country there is in the rear of us . . ." I am interested in exploring that wide country.