On Voyant

After having read Walden and used voyant tools I have developed a greater appreciation for Thoreau and his devotion to living life deliberately. There is no better way to visualize this than through the trends tool on voyant. If one looks closely at the trends tool one would see that the most popular word other than “like” is “man”, shortly followed by “life”. The word that peaked my interest was “pond”, because if “man” was everything that signified civilization, then pond was everything that signified life in the woods. There are a few interesting connections I would like to make between the words man, life and pond. The first observation being that in the beginning of the book man and life are closely connected while pond is hardly ever mentioned. This tells me that at the very beginning the idea of being a man, and being part of civilization defined what it meant to live, and the fact that pond was low mean that Thoreau had yet to learn how to live deliberately. As the book progresses three major things begin to happen. The first thing is that the ideal of manhood takes a giant plummet and loses importance. While man began to plummet, pond began to rise in importance. And finally, throughout the book life remained moderately low in importance. From this I was able to deduce the following: as Thoreau struggled to find his place between civilization and life in the woods, “man” and “pond”, the purpose of life became more and more ambiguous and thus lost importance. What is even more interesting was that a general trend in the book was that the importance of man and pond had an inverse relationship. When man was at its highest, pond was at its lowest, and vice versa. I interpreted this as Thoreau’s struggle to find a happy medium between living life in the woods and everything that he used to know. And lastly, the resolution to all of Thoreau’s struggles can be seen in the end of the trend chart, where one can see the union between life, man and pond. And I think that this is the best visual representation of living life deliberately and in the woods. By the end of the book there is only a 7 point difference between pond, life and man, where in the beginning there is a 44 point difference. In the end Thoreau was able to successfully live life in the woods and accomplish hat he set out to do. I believe voyant tools played a major role in better understanding the significance of Walden.


One comment

  1. Alireza Taghdarreh says:

    Hello, Benjamin.

    I enjoyed your comment very much. As a man who lives across the oceans that separate us from each other in Iran and the US, I should say that the pond signifies not just a single civilization. To me, it signifies a connection between civilizations too. In Walden, Thoreau speaks how the water in Walden Pond travels across the globe through evaporation and reaches The Persian Gulf, among many other places. Concord as a land, and even the woods, are static and stagnant. It is Walden Pond’s water that breaks barriers through evaporation and connects Thoreau and the US culture to the rest of the world — including my people and culture in Iran. Thoreau says, “A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” It is through this eye that the people of the world can see you. See how beautifully you and I see each other and are travelling on this magical water evaporation to reach each other’s culture. Henry says, “a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” I am Walden‘s translator in Iran. I am helping my people to see you through the eyes of this eternal pond.

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