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By Henry David Thoreau, H. Daniel Peck
Thoreau's account of his 1839 boat journey is a finely crafted tapestry of trip writing, essays, and lyrical poetry. Thoreau interweaves descriptions of traditional phenomena, the agricultural panorama, and native characters with digressions on literature and philosophy, the local American and Puritian histories of recent England, the Bhagavad Gita, the imperfections of Christianity, and lots of different subjects.
even though it stocks some of the topics in Thoreau's vintage WALDEN, per week bargains an alternate viewpoint on his analaysis of the connection among nature and tradition.
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Extra info for A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Perhaps this distinctiveness is disclosed by the fact that only human beings laugh, while they share with animals the capacity to play. Finally and very significantly, while there are perceptions of all sorts involved in playing, the latter remains primarily a form of action. By contrast, while the comic may be represented by specific acts, it is primarily a form of perception, a uniquely human one. The comic is perceived as the perception of an otherwise undisclosed dimension of reality—not just of its own reality (as a player perceives the reality of a game), but of reality as such.
Since malice is hardly an admirable quality, this also raises an ethical issue: Is there something morally reprehensible about comic laughter? Plato, it may be said, was obsessed with the importance of order, a most serious business. It stands to reason, then, that he would have his doubts about laughter. Aristotle had a good deal to say about both tragedy and comedy, mainly in his Poetics. Unfortunately, the second book of that work, in which there was an extended treatment of comedy, has been lost (a fact that is made much of in Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose).
If I allow myself to laugh at this pratfall—that is, if I let myself perceive it as comic—I must for the moment bracket my feelings of pity or concern, because these would prevent me from laughing. But suppose that I'm a physician. My interest now is to diagnose my friend's condition, and to that end I must also bracket my personal feelings. In other words, both the act of comic perception and the act of medical diagnosis require an abstraction from the web of meanings and emotions that constitute what Schutz called the paramount reality of everyday life.
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers by Henry David Thoreau, H. Daniel Peck