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I Am Nothing: Thoughts on Thoreau

I find much of Thoreau’s writings a statement of decay: physical and spiritual.

Even with a dead horse, Thoreau finds solace though he must cover his nose with a handkerchief. Let the vultures dig in and have their feast, we should be cheered at such avarice sport.” Life—all life—is good, vultures as well as bluebirds, worms as well as butterflies, funky, phallus-shaped toadstools as well as primroses,” says Philip Cafaro in his book, Thoreau’s Living Ethics: Walden and the Pursuit of Virtue.

Thoreau does not stand apart from even the most repulsive or reviled of the natural world. Each serves its singular purpose in the great chain of being. There is more of a quibble with the shallow servitude of humanity, chained to an ever turning slave wheel, mindless of its daily expenditure to profit and be profited from.

“I am nothing,” he is credited to respond to Harrison G.O. Blake who had asked if he would be desirous of company should he build a cabin to remove himself from society.