Splendid Visions

A father considers his young son’s life in the city of Boston, and wonders if his son would be better off with “a life in nature”:

“If it’s true that children raised in cities often grow into shrewd, incisive adults wise to the crooked ways of the world, that being exposed daily to a wealth of cultures, languages, libraries, bookstores, theaters, and museums can make impressive people, Wordsworth might argue that those individuals lack a ‘sense sublime / Of something far more deeply interfused’—that is, a sense of the unity, harmony, freedom, and ‘unwearied Joy’ exemplified by nature. Who doesn’t want ‘unwearied Joy’ for his child? Emerson might go a bit further and say that those divorced from nature have a thinking deficiency, because ‘Nature is the vehicle of thought.’ For Emerson, as for Wordsworth, Nature is synonymous with Life—our lives simply refuse to cohere outside the context of the natural world. Will Ethan the city boy forever lack something sacred in his mind and spirit? Will he lack a certain useful knowledge? When my paternal grandfather was in Korea during the war, his platoon mates from Manhattan ‘thought the crickets were North Korean soldiers sending evil signals to one another in the nighttime. They never got a good night’s sleep.”

Source: Orion Magazine
Published: Mar 1, 2013
Length: 17 minutes (4,375 words)
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