In an echo of Henry Thoreau’s retreat to the woods around Walden pond, Sylvain Tesson escaped the ugliness of modern life and spent six months in a log cabin on the shore of Lake Baikal in Siberia. He wanted to surround himself with silence in the wilderness. He kept a diary ‘as a supplement to memory, to stave off forgetting’. He describes how the act of writing ‘makes life fruitful’; how ‘the daily appointment with the blank page forces one … to listen harder, to think more clearly, to see more intently’. I have similar feelings about writing a weekly post for this blog and being faced with a blank screen each week. Sometimes it is a joy to order my thoughts and commit some of them to writing; other times it is a chore and a challenge to dream up something vaguely interesting to tell you.
BTW Teeson’s book was a pleasure to read and easier than Thoreau’s in my view.
Sylvain Teeson, Consolations of the forest: alone in a cabin in the middle Taiga, London: Penguin Books, 2014.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden, London: Penguin Classics, 2016.