An old quote that crosses my mind as I realize I have yet to check the news this morning.
Do you recognize that quote? It's from the oft-quoted "Walden," and I'm amused to see the next paragraph:
For my part, I could easily do without the post-office. I think that there are very few important communications made through it.Read in isolation, that sounds like Henry David Thoreau foresaw email and the internet, but, in fact, he's at the opposite end of the technology spectrum:
To speak critically, I never received more than one or two letters in my life... that were worth the postage.I have written 34,859 posts on Blogger — this is #34,860 — and they were surely worth the "postage," since I have paid $0.00 to write to you like this.
The penny-post is, commonly, an institution through which you seriously offer a man that penny for his thoughts which is so often safely offered in jest. And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper.Boldface added.
If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter -- we never need read of another.But a man on a vintage tractor was killed by a vintage firetruck in a 4th of July parade, and a cop shot the Rottweiler of a man he was arresting for photography the other day, and what's happening with those 17-year cicadas? Surely, these details from elsewhere need to be uploaded into our furiously grinding cogs of cognition.
One is enough.If you've read one dead dog story, you've read them all.
If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications? To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.In my defense, I am an old woman. I've had coffee, and have moved on to water. Are you a philosopher? The test is: Do you think all news is gossip?
Yet not a few are greedy after this gossip. There was such a rush, as I hear, the other day at one of the offices to learn the foreign news by the last arrival, that several large squares of plate glass belonging to the establishment were broken by the pressure -- news which I seriously think a ready wit might write a twelve-month, or twelve years, beforehand with sufficient accuracy.What news stories are you reading this morning that might just as well have been written a year ago?
As for Spain, for instance, if you know how to throw in Don Carlos and the Infanta, and Don Pedro and Seville and Granada, from time to time in the right proportions...All these people that you mention/Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame/I had to rearrange their faces/And give them all another name...
.... they may have changed the names a little since I saw the papers -- and serve up a bull-fight when other entertainments fail, it will be true to the letter, and give us as good an idea of the exact state or ruin of things in Spain as the most succinct and lucid reports under this head in the newspapers: and as for England, almost the last significant scrap of news from that quarter was the revolution of 1649; and if you have learned the history of her crops for an average year, you never need attend to that thing again, unless your speculations are of a merely pecuniary character. If one may judge who rarely looks into the newspapers, nothing new does ever happen in foreign parts, a French revolution not excepted.What's the news from Egypt?
What news! how much more important to know what that is which was never old! "Kieou-he-yu (great dignitary of the state of Wei) sent a man to Khoung-tseu to know his news."All these Chinese names you mention... presumably, what's the news of how to spell them today?
"Khoung-tseu caused the messenger to be seated near him, and questioned him in these terms: What is your master doing? The messenger answered with respect: My master desires to diminish the number of his faults, but he cannot come to the end of them. The messenger being gone, the philosopher remarked: What a worthy messenger! What a worthy messenger!" The preacher, instead of vexing the ears of drowsy farmers on their day of rest at the end of the week -- for Sunday is the fit conclusion of an ill-spent week, and not the fresh and brave beginning of a new one -- with this one other draggle-tail of a sermon, should shout with thundering voice, "Pause! Avast! Why so seeming fast, but deadly slow?"What is the fit conclusion to your ill-spent week?