April 4, 2013

"Society is commonly too cheap. We meet at very short intervals..."

"... not having had time to acquire any new value for each other. We meet at meals three times a day, and give each other a new taste of that old musty cheese that we are. We have had to agree on a certain set of rules, called etiquette and politeness, to make this frequent meeting tolerable and that we need not come to open war. We meet at the post-office, and at the sociable, and about the fireside every night; we live thick and are in each other's way, and stumble over one another, and I think that we thus lose some respect for one another. Certainly less frequency would suffice for all important and hearty communications. Consider the girls in a factory — never alone, hardly in their dreams. It would be better if there were but one inhabitant to a square mile, as where I live. The value of a man is not in his skin, that we should touch him."

Henry David Thoreau, "Walden."

ADDED: This passage cries out for a link to "Caring for Your Introvert":
Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood. They listen for a moment and then go back to barking and yipping....

We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts' Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."

How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice? First, recognize that it's not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. It's an orientation.

20 comments:

Paco Wové said...

"We meet at very short intervals not having had time to acquire any new value ... We meet...and give each other a new taste of that old musty cheese that we are."

So, you're telling people not to comment so goddamned much, right?

Mark O said...

Just so we are clear on the subject of getting out and meeting the world:

"Walden Pond was a pleasant walk to his family home, where he lived for almost his entire life. During his famous experiment in his cabin at Walden, moralizing about his solitude, he did not mention that he brought his mother his dirty laundry and went on enjoying her apple pies. His friend William Ellery Channing wrote that, after his graduation from Harvard at the age of twenty, when his mother broached the subject of his leaving home, Thoreau became weepy--and didn't leave."

ricpic said...

Hey Henry, the factory girls like it like that, they like being in constant company.

ricpic said...

Sorry David, I thought your first name was Henry.

Ann Althouse said...

"Just so we are clear on the subject of getting out and meeting the world..."

Yeah, I know... a 19th century man cave.

CEO-MMP said...

An orientation?

wyo sis said...

Now for introvert marriage legislation.

edutcher said...

He was just another slacker.

His war was Mexico.

Titus said...

Walden Pond is beautiful...and in Mass, natch-a state rich in history.

His little cottage is adorbs-

If you all have a chance cum visit-enjoy the fabulousness. Concord, Lexington, Lincoln etc. Visit, but you will be unable to stay (thank the Lord Almighty) because you can't afford it.

toodles.

traditionalguy said...

Us introverts do well in public interactions. But after they are over we go rest, play golf and enjoy romance and our introvert dogs.

It's the workaholic extroverts who never miss writing 10 or so intelligent and carefully crafted posts a day on a Blog for 8 years.

So, yes it must be an orientation.

rhhardin said...

Mathematicians and physicists are happy with human contact once a year or so.

Shanna said...

I've been to Walden Pond and I thoguht it was gorgeous. I loved Thoreau when I read this book in high school, but hearing that he basically had his mom doing his laundry made it a little less special :)

it will not be impolite to say "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."

It will never not be rude to say that. Sometimes extroverts don't want to hear what is being said either. Good manners are nothing more than a series of small sacrifices and minor inconveniences.

wyo sis said...

Someone told me the difference in introversion between accountants and mathematicians is that mathematicians look at their own shoes when they talk to you and accountants, being more extroverted, look at the other person's shoes.

rcocean said...

My forces me to have contact with everyone in my corporation. Accountants, management, engineers, actual workers, etc.

Programmers and Marketers are like oil and water, but there are plenty of extroverts and introverts in both.

tiger said...

Ol' HDT hardly had a square mile to
his self.

He lived just outside of town and very frequently had dinner in town with friends.

He was not some kind of 'rustic' or noble savage as Rousseau wanted to think men in their 'natural habitat' were.

Joshua said...

I just got paid $6784 working off my laptop this month. And if you think that's cool, my divorced friend has twin toddlers, made over $9k her first month and she convinced me to try. I can't believe how easy it was once I tried it out. Here's what I do Wow55.com

Joshua said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

It is unbelievable to me that anybody could value Walden less because HDT didn't do his own laundry. But look at the book The Education of Little Tree, widely praised until it was discovered the author was a former white supremacist. As if, somehow, without one letter of the text changing, Carter, 'the writer was trying to sneak ideas past the reader who was without obligation to examine these ideas for themselves.

Walden is a great book, a book that turned me libertarian when given to me to read in HS by my commie, college student, brother who was all agog over the essay On Civil Disobedience and didn't understand Thoreau's deeper message.

Carol said...

well I am thankful to the extroverts who rescued me from my isolation at key times in the past. Extroverts who are smart and funny and musical can be a godsend.

TMink said...

I love extroverts and pretend to be one at work. But thank God for an hour or so by myself at night to listen to music of putz around on the computer.

I imagine that there is a neurological basis for introversion/extroversion, and I wonder how it shows up on a Rorschach?

Trey