Henry David Thoreau And The Counterculture

1742 words - 7 pages

Transcendentalism is a literary and philosophical movement, associated with Henry David Thoreau and the Counterculture, asserting the existence of an ideal spiritual reality that transcends the empirical and scientific and is knowable through intuition. Imagination and individuality are associated with the term. Henry David Thoreau who was a leading philosopher and poet was a leading transcendentalist. He compiled a novel titled Walden, a non-fiction depicting his stay at Walden Pond where he truly explored nature and his transcendental quality. Similar to Thoreau, the Counterculture was a non-conformist group, during the 1960’s and 1970’s who went against society's norms and became their own sub-culture. They too were highly considered transcendental. The counterculture of the 1960’s and 1970’s was heavily coerced by Henry David Thoreau’s ideas and shared comparable facets of exhibiting a strong foundation of the importance of nature, along with imagination and the ideal of life pertaining to a higher spirit. , but the counter-culture did stray off and transform into its own, in the sense of individualism and government relations.

Henry David Thoreau’s ideas impacted the counter- culture and their ideas. Thoreau went to the woods, built himself a home, and practically lived off the nature surrounding him. “All nature was tonic to him” ( About Thoreau ). He held a great passion for the true meaning of nature. His ideal that nature held a strong importance carried over into the Counterculture generation. Those of the counterculture grasped a back to the land ethic. The counterculture focused on pollution. The importance of nature was prevalent to those of the counterculture in the 1960’s. In the early 1970’s, an Earth Day was created to keep nature as a forefront to those of the youth culture. The counterculture activist were early practitioners of recycling and organic farming, much before the time they became popular. The ideal that life pertains to a higher spirit was Thoreau’s. “Although Thoreau rejected organized religion, his entire life was nourished by spiritual currents and marked by peak experience” (Thoreau Project). Thoreau truly believed that life contained spiritual influence, except he did not follow a national, popular religion. Those of the counterculture also believed in the idea of a higher spiritual experience and follow “different” religions, that were not mainstream in the region, such as Buddhism, and Hinduism. Thoreau’s ideas greatly impacted the counterculture.

Henry David Thoreau and the counterculture shared qualities that make them equally transcendental. Thoreau has intuition and a strong imagination. Thoreau wrote numerous non-fiction pieces, Walden as well as journals or essays, Civil Disobedience. Thoreau revealed his emotion on imagination, “The world is but a canvas to our imaginations” ( Sayre ). Thoreau believed it was important to express your imagination and bring the world that you...

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