The social condition of genius is the same in all ages. Aeschylus was undoubtedly alone and without sympathy in his simple reverence for the mystery of the universe.—Journal, 29 January 1840
I see nothing permanent in the society around me, and am not quite committed to any of its ways.—Journal, 1850
Society is commonly too cheap. We meet at very short intervals, not having had time to acquire any new value for each other.—Walden
There is a coarse and boisterous money-making fellow in the outskirts of our town who is going to build a blank-wall under the hill along the edge of his meadow. The powers have put this into his head to keep him out of mischief, and he wishes me to spend three weeks digging there with him. The result will be that he will perhaps get some more money to hoard, and leave for his heirs to spend foolishly. If I do this, most will commend me as an industrious and hard-working man; but if I choose to devote myself to certain labors which yield more real profit, though but little money they may be inclined to look on me as an idler. Nevertheless, as I do not need the police of meaningless labor to regulate me, and do not see anything absolutely praiseworthy in this fellow’s undertaking any more than in many an enterprise of our own or foreign governments, however amusing it may be to him or them, I prefer to finish my education at a different school.—"Life Without Principle"
Man is not at once born into society — hardly into the world. The world that he is hides for a time is the world that he inhabits.—Journal, 14 March 1838
Men think that it is essential that the Nation have commerce, and export ice, and talk through a telegraph, and ride thirty miles an hour, without a doubt, whether they do or not; but whether we should live like baboons or like men, is a little uncertain.—Walden
Society is always diseased, and the best is the most so.—"Natural History of Massachusetts"
In obedience to an instinct of their nature men have pitched their cabins, and planted corn and potatoes within speaking distance of one another, and so formed towns and villages, but they have not associated, they have only assembled, and society has signified only a convention of men.—Journal, 14 March 1838
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes....
When I ask for a garment of a particular form, my tailoress tells me gravely, "They do not make them so now," not emphasizing the "They" at all, as if she quoted an authority as impersonal as the Fates.... We worship not the Graces, nor the Parcae, but Fashion. She spins and weaves and cuts with full authority. The head monkey at Paris puts on a traveller's cap, and all the monkeys in America do the same....—Walden