“ Go not to the object let it come to you”

“ Go not to the object let it come to you”                     — Thoreau, Princeton edition of the Journals, vol 5, 344

“[We can contrast]  investigations that are, as it were, self-willed, where the investigator stands above, over and against, what is investigated, and one where the investigator is ‘object-willed’, moved to consideration of what she stands enmeshed in, alongside, and which calls out to her for consideration.  We might say that in the first case, the investigation proceeds in light produced by the investigator, in the second, in light produced by the ‘object’ investigated.”          –Kelly Jolley

“Each thought that is welcomed and recorded is a nest egg— by the side of which more will be laid. Thoughts accidentally thrown together become a frame— in which more may be developed—& exhibited. Perhaps this is the main value of a habit of writing— of keeping a journal. That so we remember our best hours—& stimulate ourselves. My thoughts are my company— They have a certain individuality & separate existence— aye personality. Having by chance recorded a few disconnected thoughts and then brought them into juxtaposition— they suggest a whole new field in which it was possible to labor & to think. Thought begat thought.”   — (Princeton Journ.  4: 277– 78)

“in the true natural order the order or system is not insisted on. … The species and individuals of all the natural kingdoms ask our attention and admiration in a round robin” (J XIV: 119).


5 comments on ““ Go not to the object let it come to you”

  1. Thanks for these lines from Thoreau. I ran across a memorable, related line today (reading about Marcel)–“docility to the solicitations of the real”.

  2. dmf says:

    Jay DeFeo and All That Jazz

  3. Steve says:

    Do you ever get the impression that Walden retains strong traces of Thoreau’s journal-keeping method and that this might help explain both its exasperating elusiveness and hypnotic charm? Though it’s obviously a highly polished work – nearly a decade in the making, with nothing less than perfection as its standard – I detect that Walden’s scores of themes, like a handful of colorful dice, are cast and recast in ever-changing and surprising combinations, and that the accidental novelty of the combinations is what imparts to the book its summary-defying nuance and depth. The meaning of each theme undergoes a greater or lesser modification with each new configuration it shows up in, creating the effect of a constantly moving, almost cloud-like metamorphosis. Admittedly, a combination of dice does not make a very good cloud, but perhaps you get the idea.

    • efmooney says:

      I think that’s just right, Steve. People complain about contradictions, and discontinuity in exposition, but he wants to roll out the dice (or lay down the eggs) this way and that, enjoying the new combinations of half a dozen (or a dozen) elements. Not a sustained theme or argument but unanticipated and striking juxtaposition of fragments (eggs, dice) keeps up the sparkle and multiple, flexible loose fitting thought-designs (if not arguments) do emerge in “a round robin.”

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