1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Walking Man--Tis Not, What Once It Was, the World

...Why should of all things man unruled

Such unproportioned dwellings build?

The beasts are by their dens exprest,

And birds contrive an equal nest;

The low-roofed tortoises do dwell

In cases fit of tortoise-shell:

No creature loves an empty space;

Their bodies measure out their place.

But he, superfluously spread,

Demands more room alive than dead;

And in his hollow palace goes

Where winds as he themselves may lose.

What need of all this marble crust

T' impark the wanton mote of dust,

That thinks by breadth the world t' unite

Though the first builders failed in height?...

--from Andrew Marvell's Upon Appleton House, 1651--

I wonder sometimes why we humans feel like we need bigger and better buildings--or anything else for that matter--when nature provides ample evidence of why living lean is better. The praying mantis I found at Rend Lake merely molts when it begins to grow too large for its exoskeleton. Well, since we have endoskeletons, molting might not work very well for us. Nevertheless, this living-large syndrome seems to have gotten a lot of us (at least Americans) into financial trouble. Maybe we should all emulate the example of this motivated biped, The Walking Man, who relies on the kindness of strangers for most of his needs and rests his head at the end of the day wherever he happens to run out of steam. Or, maybe not.

And so the reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance. Men have looked away from themselves and at things so long, that they have come to esteem what they call the soul's progress, namely, the religious, learned, and civil institutions, as guards of property, and they deprecate assaults on these, because they feel them to be assaults on property. They measure their esteem of each other, by what each has, and not by what each is. But a cultivated man becomes ashamed of his property, ashamed of what he has, out of new respect for his being. Especially, he hates what he has, if he sees that it is accidental--came to him by inheritance, or gift, or crime; then he feels that it is not having; it does not belong to him, has no root in him, and merely lies there, because no revolution or no robber takes it away. But that which a man is, does always by necessity acquire, and what the man acquires is permanent and living property, which does not wait the beck of rulers, or mobs, or revolutions, or fire, or storm, or bankruptcies, but perpetually renews itself wherever the man is put. "Thy lot or portion of life,' said the Caliph Ali, "is seeking after thee; therefore be at rest from seeking after it."

--from Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self-Reliance, 1841--

...'Tis not, what it once was, the World,

But a rude heap together hurled;

All negligently overthrown,

Gulfs, deserts, precipices, stone.

Your lesser World contains the same...

--Upon Appleton House--


  1. The praying mantis is a fascinating creature. Classic quotations too. Interesting fungus below.

  2. Wow, that was deep stuff...

    The mantis is so cool walking! We rarely get to see them moving so this was a treat. I really liked it when he moved his head like a little alien...

    Getting good with that video stuff... :)

  3. It is very amazing what man can do without if he has to. Man has forgotten what is the most important, rather what he thinks is. Very interesting. Loved the music.

  4. I enjoyed the mantis and the referral to the walking man. The first thing that occurred to me was that a woman would never be able to do don't have to be so concerned about their personal safety..

  5. Such a timely post. There is a big preoccupation with bigger is better and it sure does need to stop. Something tells me it will soon.

  6. Thank you so much. I'm reading a book about Churchill and Gandhi right now and how they changed the world. Gandhi would have, I'm sure agreed with all of your quotes. So do I.

  7. Sarah, thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'll be over to visit soon. Hubby has had a few days' break from drilling supervision, and I've not kept up with everyone's latest postings.

    Skeeter, thanks for the praise! I couldn't resist using one more mantis post, especially when I caught her looking at me like that and then just walking away. As if she was trying to let me know she's keeping an eye on me too, so I'd better behave!

    Hi, Lola! It's true that we could all stand a little more introspection when it comes to consumptive behavior. I had my own soul-struggle going on when I wrote this post. We just signed a lease on a larger place than we are living in now, and it's going to require more travel to and from work. The only thing I can claim in defense is that it will be a much quieter and more peaceful environment than we currently have. I guess that's important, at least for sanity's sake. Glad you enjoy the music. My selection is eclectic if nothing else.

    Michelle, you're right about the safety issue. I hadn't even considered that aspect. I don't even like to walk at the park by myself, especially this time of year when there aren't as many people out and about.

    Tina, it's hard to stop this train of "progress" and acquisition we've all helped create. Like you, I'm afraid it's headed for a wreck.

    Troutbirder, thank you for your visit and comments. I'm curious about that book you're reading. Who is the author and what's the title?

  8. Ah, my favorite insect!:) I've never seen one moving that fast--I wonder what it was after...could it have been looking back to see if you were still following with a camera?

    Amen to all your commentary about our materialism. I wonder if the current economic crisis will force more Americans to realize that we all have too many "things"?

  9. I guess I'm complacent. When I got up this mornin and turned the faucet on, water came out. Afterwards when I flipped the switch on my electric razor, it powered up. The TV remote sends the signal and I watch Judge Judy or a football game. I hit "PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT" and it appears almost instantly below and/or above all the others. Perhaps I don't do enough walkin. I couldn't do as Gary 'Walkingman' Hause does and walk around the world. Who'd take care of all my stuff, not to mention the garden? (It even looks like Mr. Hause has is packin a lot of stuff with him on his walks.)

  10. Rose, yes, I thought of you when I posted this time. Maybe that's why I added the Susan Ashton song. It did seem like the mantis was trying to communicate something to me. Maybe: "Do you mind? I'm on a serious mission here, and I don't have much time left!"

    TC, I wonder if complacency is a strong enough word for our society's infatuation with creature comforts. The pack-rat thing must be a postmodern coping mechanism (remember The Things They Carried?). If there was any childhood deprivation, then hoarding becomes an adult obsession. And of course, if the house isn't big enough to hold it all, then build or buy (or lease) a bigger one! Good grief!

  11. Hmmm, I didn't have much when I was a kid, and still don't now. But I do seem to be a bit pack-rattish; although what I collect probably isn't worth anything to anyone but me and the dust bunnies.

    (Just finished "If I Die in a Combat Zone. A tragic war made even more so in this book by O'Brien's matter-of-fact writing.)

  12. Check out Eddie Vedder's song "Society". Here are the lyrics that haunt, and remind me of your post:
    "You think you have to want/ more than you need/ until you have it all you won't be free...
    I think I need to find a bigger place/ 'cos when you have more than you think/ you need more space."

    Americans who didn't live through the Great Depression may not recognize what's happening to us. Choking on our own greed, we find our mouths filled with the taste of ashes of debt. Maybe getting more space isn't the answer to having more than we think we need.

  13. This is such a powerful message, and the music goes with it so well. The poem really touched me. Can we get back to basics....?

  14. TC, I haven't read that one by O'Brien. The Things They Carried was superbly written. My reading habits are a little strange. I tend to mostly read stuff written some time ago. Seems like the newer novels and nonfiction follow a standard formula that is not very appealing to me, though it must work for mass marketing purposes. Guess the old-dog-no-new-tricks attitude is taking hold of me. Or at least I'm not ready to roll over and play dead for pop culture.

    WS, thanks for the lead on the song. I found it on YouTube:

    It packs quite a punch to this old paunch. You're preaching to the choir, you know. But this choir needs a new loft. She is going deaf from the noise in her apartment cage--trains, semi-trucks on the nearby interstate, neighbors with noisy friends who drop by for a visit at two in the morning....

    TTL, thank you for the comment. As you can probably guess, I'm more than just a little perturbed by my own choices in life and those that have been made for me. I have gotten fat, lazy, and anemic from allowing myself to be force-fed the pop culture that is so pernicious and pervasive. It's coming from everywhere--television, newspapers, fiction, nonfiction, the pulpit (yes, even there).... I am trying to consume as much iron(y) as is humanly possible and regain some vitality. Those basics look mighty appealing to me right about now.