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Missing the point: Statues pt.2: More stupid statues – Why does this one of Henry David Thoreau exist? (And actually… hang on, wait. Look at it. He’s actually asking the same question.)

(The following is from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, and the part is almost in its entirety because a) it kicks ass and b) could be my favourite passage in the book):

Genius is not a retainer to any emperor, nor is its material silver, or gold, or marble, except to a trifling extent. To what end, pray, is so much stone hammered? In Arcadia, when I was there, I did not see any hammering stone. Nations are possessed with an insane ambition to perpetuate the memory of themselves by the amount of hammered stone they leave. What if equal pains were taken to smooth and polish their manners? One piece of good sense would be more memorable than a monument as high as the moon. I love better to see stones in place… Most of the stone a nation hammers goes towards its tomb only. It buries itself alive. As for the Pyramids, there is nothing to wonder at in them so much as the fact that so many men could be found degraded enough to spend their lives constructing a tomb for some ambitious booby, whom it would have been wiser and manlier to have drowned in the Nile, and then given his body to the dogs. 

This statue of Thoreau in Walden, Massachusetts, and much like Marcus Aurelius’, the people behind it clearly had their head up their asses when approving it and then erecting it. Thoreau’s is outside the hut in New England, where he spent over a year living in the woods, living a life of simplicity and asceticism, connecting to (and reflecting on) the land, nature and his own mind.

And not only did someone screw the pooch on this one, but the irony of it is genius. Look closely at it. It’s actually like he’s going ‘WHY? WHY am I statue? Why did you do this? Hmmm? Did you not actually read the book?’

Missing the point

If anyone actually read what he was going on about in Walden, this statue would never have been put up. Everything Thoreau stood for is remembered here as a lifeless, soulless and mindless clunky piece of tin or bronze, some tin/bronze composite or some bronzey/tinny combination.

And what would Thoreau do today if he saw it? I’m guessing this: he’d roll his eyes, instantly forget about it and just carry on a-fishing or a-woodchopping.