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Blind Boy Apollo
and the All-White Astronauts

New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Friday, October 13

thor of walden pond

You laugh, but check out his pal Bronson Alcott in his chapter on Thoreau in Concord Days (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1872, pp. 11-17)...
He of all men seemed to be the native New-Englander, as much so as the oak, the granite ledge; our best example of an indigenous American, untouched by the old country, unless he came down rather from Thor, the Northman, whose name he bore.
A bit far-fetched you say? Perhaps. But here's his biographer on the same theme...
Partly because of his own Northern French and Scottish ancestry, Thoreau felt kinship from the start, a family link, so to speak, with the Germanic or Northern languages, mythologies, and literatures. They were not, to him, essentially foreign; they were a part of his admittedly complex birthright. In later years his own name always seemed to him an only half-playful extension of the name Thor.

Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind
Robert D. Richardson Jr.
University of California Press, 1988, p. 28

A life of the mind, indeed. And on the page preceding that, I learned what all the Transcendentalists were really up to in Concord circa 1837. They were madly studying German so they could read the likes of Johann Gottfried Herder and Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Now, you can go to those Wikipedia links and read up on those guys -- or, to get the basic idea much more quickly, you can simply search Google Books for...

To cut to the chase, the "basic idea" is what Wikipedia calls the völkisch movement. And if you go to that page, the first thing you'll see is the graphic at the right. Meanwhile, our Google Books query has pulled up titles like...

Am I suggesting some sort of guilt-by-association here? You be the judge. But while you're mulling it over, keep in mind that there's nothing quite as unbiased and dispassionate as an efficient search engine with an enormous corpus of full-text books to draw on.

Finally, here's a Fichte clip I found in A Dictionary of Philosophical Quotations. I think it casts some additional and much needed light on Henry David "Thor" Thoreau and that whole crowd.

Attend to yourself: turn your attention away from everything that surrounds you and toward your inner life; this is the first demand that philosophy makes of its disciple. Our concern is not with anything that lies outside you, but only with yourself.

Science of Knowledge, J.G. Fichte
trans. P. Heath and J. Lachs, p. 6