For years I blamed Mr. Sideways — and the money fever of the 1980s — for this weird episode of hucksterism in English class. But that was being unfair. Our teacher had merely fallen under the spell, like countless others before and after, of the most pernicious piece of literature in the American canon. The whim that inspired him to lead a seminar in house-flipping to a stupefied under-age audience was Emerson’s handiwork. “All that Adam had,” he goads in his essay “Nature,” “all that Caesar could, you have and can do.” Oh, the deception! The rank insincerity! It’s just like the Devil in Mutton Chops to promise an orgiastic communion fit for the gods, only to deliver a gospel of “self-conceit so intensely intellectual,” as Melville complained, “that at first one hesitates to call it by its right name.”
Bogwalker lives here with her partner and 20-month-old daughter, Hazel. Inside an open-air living room and kitchen on the property, the baby snuggles up against her leg as she imparts instructions to a crowd of students. They’re here for the fourth and final day of Basic Women’s Carpentry, one of a number of courses Bogwalker and her majority-female staff offer specifically for women, with the aim of equipping them with the tools they need to become more self-reliant. “It’s not primitive skills by any means,” Bogwalker says of the class. “It’s using power tools, table saws, chop saws, impact drivers.”
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