Tuesday, May 23, 2017

‘Thoreau bicentennial celebration in Wallkill’

The School of Practical Philosophy continues its bicentennial commemoration of the life of Henry David Thoreau, this time with a study meeting on its beautiful property in the Hudson Valley. (Sorry to say I cannot attend. I’ll be at the School’s townhouse on East 79th for the Plato class.) From the publicity:

Thoreau Bicentennial Celebration
in Wallkill
Saturday, June 3
7 to 9:30 p.m.
The School of Practical Philosophy
846 Borden Circle in Wallkill, NY
$10 tickets here

Henry David Thoreau’s life embodies the Transcendental vision of self-reliance and a love of freedom. His great experiment at Walden Pond was focused on living simply and deliberately. His example teaches us to crave reality by embracing the present and to follow the voice of conscience.

From Walden:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

Come and join us in celebrating this great American philosopher, whose influence has powerfully shaped the 20th century through the work of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Discover how relevant his ideals are today.

We will explore selected passages from his masterwork, Walden, and selections from the essay “Civil Disobedience.” There will also be a short walk on the beautiful Wallkill property.

If you missed the recent Thoreau Study Day in New York City, this Wallkill event presents the perfect opportunity to appreciate this revolutionary spirit in an appropriately Waldenesque setting.

Family and friends are welcome. No prior study of Thoreau is required.

Tickets cost $10, which includes study materials and light refreshments, and may be purchased here pending availability. Tickets also will be available at the door on June 3.

We hope to see you there.

As this edition of The Magpie Mason goes to press, there are 75 openings remaining.

In other Thoreau news, today was the day the U.S. Postal Service released its Henry David Thoreau Forever Stamp. Here is the press release, with links and art added by me:

The U.S. Postal Service celebrates writer, philosopher, and naturalist Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) on the bicentennial year of his birth.

The forever stamp will be formally celebrated May 23 in an 11 a.m. ceremony at the locale to which Thoreau is most connected: tranquil and picturesque Walden Pond State Reservation (at the Visitors Center) in Concord, Massachusetts.

Thoreau’s personal example of simple living, his criticism of materialism, and the timeless questions he raises about the place of the individual in society and humanity’s role in the natural world, he continues to inspire new generations to assert their independence, reinterpret his legacy, and ask challenging questions of their own.

The stamp features and oil-on-panel painting by contemporary artist Sam Weber of Brooklyn, New York. The painting is based on a famous 1856 daguerreotype by Benjamin Maxham. On the right side of the stamp is Thoreau’s signature of his last name. Below the signature is a branch of sumac leaves. Art director Greg Breeding, of Charlottesville, Virginia, designed the stamp. Weber also was the artist for the 2015 Flannery O’Connor 3-ounce stamp.

1967 five-cent stamp.
This is the second U.S. commemorative for Thoreau. A stamp for the 150th anniversary of his birth issued in 1967 features a drawing by sculptor and illustrator Leonard Baskin.

The first-day ceremony is free and open to the public.

Those expected to be on hand include Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy, U.S. Postal Service General Counsel and Executive Vice President Thomas J. Marshall, Select Board Town of Concord Chair Michael Lawson, and Walden Woods Project Board Member, environmentalist and actor Ed Begley, Jr.

Walden Pond, known as a kettle hole in geological terms, was formed by glaciers about 11,000 years ago. Thoreau lived on the northern shore of the pond for two years starting in the summer of 1845. His account of the experience was recorded in Walden (or Life in the Woods), and made the pond famous. The land at that end was owned by Thoreau’s friend and mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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