09 September 2010

'for whitman, however, this same moment of transition was an occasion for unleashing the primitive impulse to sing of oneself. whitman's language betrays the same experiment in self-singing; for a prrimitive joy in words, in naming things, seemed at once to embody and to reveal some ancient truth. but this self-singing is a particular necessity for one to whom truth lay hidden in things, which, being named, spring to life.

"all truths lie waiting in all things. -- they neither urge the opening of themselves nor resist it. for their birth you need not the obstetric forceps of the surgeon. they unfold to you and emit themselves more fragrant than roses from living buds, whenever you fetch the spring sunshine moistened with summer rain. -- but it must be in yourself. it shall come from your soul. it shall be love."

this is the primitive speaking to the primitive, expressing the loss of tribal solidarity, the vast gulf and separation of all things, which, on the philosophic plane, is nothing less than the subject astir and seeking the primitive object from which it has been severed. but things might be reunited and the cleavages healed at least in idea; and in full consciousness of this possibility, whitman issued and openly proclaimed that "only hegel is fit for america," for in his work, "the human soul stands at the centre, and all the universes minister to it."

thus whitman, by using a higher plan of contemplation, or rather by descending to more primitive levels of experience, absorbed and revitalized all the meanings of which the arguments of the earth were but the abstract conceptions. man, standing thus once more in the open air, bereft of the sophistication of abstract idea, might then enjoy a more primitive and original relation to the universe.'

/ long excerpt from the chapter 'the romantic mind' from the book "the americans: the national experience, volume 2" by daniel joseph boorstin, 1965
whitman was absolutely brilliant, i'm in love