Storming the Gates of Paradise
"...place is a crossroads, a particular point of intersection of forces coming from many directions and distances."
"The straight line of conventional narrative is too often an elevated freeway permitting no unplanned encounters or necessary detours."
"...experience never gets sorted out, except by the mind that insists it must be, and the most truthful are the passionate impurists."
"But for Thoreau, any subject was a good enough starting point to travel any distance, toward any direction."
"This compartmentalizing of Thoreau is a small portion of a larger portion in American thought, another fence built in the belief that places in the imagination can also be contained."
"We are usually in several places at once, and the ways our conversations and thoughts meander is a guide to the connections between all things or any two things."
"There's a widespread belief among both activists and those who cluck disapprovingly over insufficiently austere activists, that idealists should not enjoy any pleasure deemed to others, that beauty, sensuality, delight all ought to be stalled behind some dam that only the imagined revolution will break. This schism creates, as the alternative to a life of selfless devotion, a life of flight from engagement, which seems to be one way those years at Walden are sometimes portrayed: escape. But change is not always by revolution; the deprived don't generally wish most that the rest of us would join them; and a passion for justice and pleasure in small things are not incompatible. It's possible to do both, to talk about trees and justice (and in our time, justice for trees); that's part of what the short jaunt from jail to hill says."
"Places matter. Their rules, their scale, their design include or exclude civil society, pedestrianism, equality, diversity (economic and otherwise), understanding of where water comes from and garbage goes, consumption or conservation. They map our lives."
"...the mind and the terrain shape each other: every landscape is a landscape of desire to some degree, if not always for its inhabitants."