As a prelude to our sauntering through Walking, I feel the need to explain why I am choosing to serialize something Thoreau originally gave as a lecture and was later published by The Atlantic in its entirety. I hope that serialization will give it the time and attention it deserves. You may very well have never heard of this essay. However, it has been said, by those who know more then me on these matters, that if Walden is Thoreau’s most important book than Walking is his most important essay. I personally find it to the clearest explanation of some of his later thinking. My desire to hasten slowly though Walking also comes from this bit of advice from Robert Pirsig:
“Thoreau’s Walden… which Chris has never heard and which can be read a hundred times without exhaustion. I try always to pick a book far over his head and read it as a basis for questions and answers, rather than without interruption. I read a sentence or two, wait for him to come up with his usual barrage of questions, answer them, then read another sentence or two. Classics read well this way. They must be written this way. Sometimes we have spent a whole evening reading and talking and discovered we have only covered two or three pages. It’s a form of reading done a century ago…when Chautauquas were popular. Unless you’ve tried it you can’t imagine how pleasant it is to do it this way.”
My hope is that by meandering slowly through this piece week by week it can serve as something of an extended meditation or content for thoughtful rumination. A touchstone to return to once a week. It also affords us the time and opportunity to notice what is special and delightful about it. So that’s the plan. Week by week, until we are done, I’ll be posting just a few paragraphs until we have finished sauntering through Walking.