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Imagine How Much Better Walden Would Have Been if Thoreau Lived in a See-Through Raft House

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Arists Elise Morin and Florent Albinet built this floating hut, modeled after the cabin in which Henry David Thoreau wrote his famous book Walden, out of pine, acrylic glass, and polyethylene floats, leading us to wonder how much different Walden would have been had Thoreau not lived in seclusion in the woods, but had instead floated around a lake for a year. Then we looked it up, and it turns out that Thoreau actually did just that, only to abandon that initial project due to the hardships he endured. Here are some excerpts from Walden: Life on a Lake in a Floating Art Installation.

I went to the lake 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 it turns out that what life has to teach is that there is a reason people don't live on floating houses in lakes. I do not wish to practise resignation, however, unless it is quite necessary. I still have my notebooks to keep me company and I am learning how to fishe.

***

Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts, of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor. Still, though, I am beginning to question my decision to not put a bed in my floating cabin. The floor is very hard and it makes my back stiff.

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I mean that metaphorically, though. Why did I build this cabin with acrylic glass walls? On such nights as I am able to find sleep, the sun at dawn pours in and startles me violently. Had I endeavored to make some point about the transparency with which the modern man must live his life in order to truly know himself? I have forgotten. I am tired all the time.

***

A man who has at length found something to do will not need to get a new suit to do it in. In other news, catching fish is hard.

It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. But I could have just as easily done that on land. What was I thinking? I already own a land cabin. I did a bad, dumb thing.

***

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth. And **** lakes.


· Walden Raft is a cabin offering seclusion in the middle of a French lake [Dezeen]