Thoreau's preoccupation with the parallel forms displayed in leaves and in ice crystals led him to suggest a kind of early theory of everything based on leaves. This same observation would be fully articulated, in the 1970s and 80s, in fractals -- self-similarity.
Thoreau is often at his most fascinating at these points where a quasi-mystical theme wrestles itself completely free of its metaphysical connotations and becomes a fusion of empirical observations, speculation about consciousness, and poetic, intuitive leaps. The Journals are full of variations on this pattern.
He is investigating the self-similarity patterning of consciousness and attention interacting with high-detail observation and multiple simultaneous layers of theme and subject matter?
Interesting to get his impressions of New York City when he spent nine months in Staten Island in his mid twenties trying to make it as a writer. The blur of faces. Also the similarities of elements of his bio to many writers I know. The college years, the early affinities and imitaions, the historical forces, the critical alliances, the lack of ways to earn money, the disappointments, developments, growth and decisions. You have to wonder about the patterns of how our live as writers pan out and how much of it might also be described with fractals....