Project #33347 - english homework.......

Commonplace Entry #3 :  On Silence, Solitude, and Darkness

 

 

Part I:  Imitation, The Most Sincere Form of Flattery:   (at least one full page, up to two pages)

 

You are to pick a spot to sit outdoors—please, don’t just sit beside the pool at your apartment, or in a parking lot, or the back yard!  Get a little out of your comfort zone.  I can recommend some excellent spots, with all levels of transportation and adventuresomeness in mind!  Somewhere you can easily observe the natural world--and observe for fifteen minutes EVERYTHING that is going on around you.  DO NOT TAKE YOUR PHONE OR COMPUTER (honor system!) just use a journal or pad and transcribe later.  Jot down notes.  Then, think about how Thoreau’s writing was shaped by his small observations in the outdoors, the little moments of describing what he saw. 

 

After doing so, I would like you to take about 12-15 minutes to write 1-1.5 pages where you attempt to imitate the level of description Thoreau uses to describe what you see.  You’ll want to use Walden as a reference; you’re working toward consciously and stylistically capturing the voice of an observer.  Like Thoreau does, you could step back and make some larger assertions about what you see. 

 

 

Part II:  On Silence, Solitude, and Darkness.  (approx. 2 pages)

 

It is critical that you read Bill McKibben’s “Introduction to Walden” before beginning this entry, and that you keep both his essay and the excerpts from Walden handy as you write.  You will probably want to re-read Thoreau as you write; I am looking to see depth and clarity in addition to grace and style in your writing!

 

Consider the following statement from McKibben, who is writing right now in a contemporary setting.  He says, “The idea that we know what we want is palpably false.  We’ve been suckled since birth on an endless elaboration of consumer fantasies, so that it is nearly hopeless for us to figure out what is our and what is the enchanter’s suggestion.  And we keep that spell alive every time we turn on the radio or the television or the net.  Because when someone is whispering in your ear, there’s no way to think your own thoughts or feel your own responses.  The signals that your heart sends you are constant, perhaps, but they’re also low and rumbling and easily jammed by the noise and static of the civilization we’ve lately built.”  McKibben goes on to say, “Without silence, solitude, darkness, how can we come to any sense of our true size, our actual relationship with the rest of the world?......What nature provides is scale and context, ways to figure out who and how big we are and what we want.  It provides silence, solitude, darkness: the rarest commodities we know.”

 

For Part II, once again, I would like you to sit outside, ALONE, as remotely as possible.  Not the poolside, your backyard, not within earshot of other people!  I challenge you to sit for a minimum of an hour.  If you have the time, try spending a lot of your morning or afternoon.  Find a spot away from the noise, the static, and entirely away from another person---somewhere where you actually have to hear the signals of your heart.  Try not to let yourself fall asleep, and, in honoring the significance of this thinker and writer, I ask respectfully that you leave your phones, MP3 players, Ipods, etc. at home.   And as you are sitting, just sit for a bit!  Notes are fine, but just be present, as Thoreau says, “I was suddenly sensible of such sweet and beneficient society in Nature, in the very pattering of the drops, and in every sound and sight around my house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once like an atmosphere sustaining me.”

 

Spend a couple of pages really writing out the real, raw, and unstatic you.  What did you see, feel, hear, smell, experience?  What does the experience of solitude and darkness and silence lend to you, personally?  Explain how the experience of solitude impacts you, and how this experience connects you to McKibben’s quote, and to Thoreau’s reading.  Where do points of convergence exist, and where did you feel tension or disagreement?  You must be able to show me that you have thoroughly read and understood Walden and its ideas, and integrated them into your own writing.  This will be a significant aspect of your grade for this assignment.

 

Subject English
Due By (Pacific Time) 06/16/2014 12:00 am
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