The World of an Idea in the life of Thoreau
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literary machines

The new If Monks... CD-ROM includes a collection of "literary machines" inspired by the life and work of the author of Walden, Henry David Thoreau.

48 Seasons

It’s always a perfect summer day in our cloister – the rest of the year is stored in a device that leans against a book on your library desk. Click on it to discover, in brief and beautiful selections from Thoreau’s journals, that every week is its own season. Click here or on the picture to read Thoreau's description of the first week of the year.

Integrated into the CD is a journal designed to help you find the hidden threads in your life and/or in your writings.

Categories first, content afterwards – that’s the formula for what psychologists call a "structured journal." Our categories are so flexible that we call them "threads". You can use threads to combine a personal and a professional journal (such as bird-watching and business expenses). However in Get an Inner Life!, my guide to journaling, I emphasize structuring a journal in order to make it a means to self-renewal. With our threaded journal you can shape the way you look at yourself and your world. As Thoreau wrote in Walden, "What a man thinks of himself, determines, or rather indicates, his fate."

How would a writer like Thoreau use our journal? When Thoreau wished to sift his journal entries for an essay on a topic like moonlit walks he would create a thread entitled "moonlight." Then he would choose the menu selection, Add to Thread by Keyword… The application would then search the entire journal for entries about these moonlit walks. It would place those moonlit entries in the new thread called "moonlight." The "moonlight" thread could then be read, printed or exported separately from the rest of the journal. One of the volumes in this collection, Spend the Summer with Thoreau presents all the entries from one of Thoreau’s most joyous summers already set into threads. And, yes, it was a summer of moonlit walks.

The centerpiece of the American Renaissance collection is The World of an Idea in the Life of Henry David Thoreau. The World of an Idea’s navigation palette (shown to the left) enables the reader to enjoy only positive comments on Thoreau, to just scoop out the real dirt on Thoreau, or to explore any combination of the good, the bad, the ugly, and my spin on Henry David Thoreau.

Also included is an electronic edition of Walden and Civil Disobedience that, for those who just want a quick stroll around Walden pond, or for those who have a paper due the next morning, comes with its own guided tour.

NEXT page: from the quiet of the cloister to the crossfire on JFK

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© Brian Thomas, 2009
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