Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Quiet desperation

Last night I picked up Thoreau's Walden and began reading through it again. I underlined many pithy phrases and thoughts, including this one:
[H]ow to get my living honestly, with freedom left for my proper pursuits, was a question which vexed me....
And me! One of the reasons for undertaking the whole Ph.D. thing was to combine what I deeply enjoyed doing with earning a living. Sometimes I wonder, though....

And, of course, Thoreau's famous advice about Clothing:
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit? If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes. All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.
What he wrote in 1854 could be applied to today's sweatshops:
I cannot believe that our factory system is the best mode by which men may get clothing. The condition of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English; and it cannot be wondered at, since, as far as I have heard or observed, the principal object is, not that mankind may be well and honestly clad, but, unquestionably, that corporations may be enriched. In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.

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