Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Thoreau on Stuff

Have you ever seen those origami cubes that are finished by inflating them with a quick breath?  I see more and more houses that seem to inflate much the same way.  Puts me in mind of Thoreau.

This old house was gutted last year, then the second story was about doubled in size.

"Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have.... Shall we always study to obtain more of these things, and not sometimes to be content with less?"

"Not long since, I was present at the auction of a deacon's effects, for his life had not been ineffectual:--
"The evil that men do lives after them."
As usual, a great proportion was trumpery which had begun to accumulate in his father's day. Among the rest was a dried tapeworm. And now, after lying half a century in his garret and other dust holes, these things were not burned; instead of a bonfire, or purifying destruction of them, there was an auction, or increasing of them. The neighbors eagerly collected to view them, bought them all, and carefully transported them to their garrets and dust holes, to lie there till their estates are settled, when they will start again. When a man dies he kicks the dust."                                                                                            --Thoreau, Walden

Ironic that the "trumpery" Thoreau saw wasn't a tenth as great then as it is today.  Most of us (not excepting myself) are drowning in stuff.  And our consumption-based economy is trashing the planet we depend on for our very lives.  

 "...our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them..."


  1. Great quotes from HDT. The stuff of life bears closer examination. I find inspiration in of all odd places - a website called 'Apartment Therapy' that gives, among many things, advice & support about minimalism.

    I also think if more people went camping or backpacking - they'd have less stuff because those experiences demonstrate how little we really need. We have lived in our house for almost 10 years & it's time to purge our stuff!

  2. We're at 18 years, and drowning... (And yet there are a few boxes from the old apartment that are still in the basement!)