The Ontological Boy

Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

WHOEVER you are, holding me now in hand,
Without one thing, all will be useless,
I give you fair warning, before you attempt me further,
I am not what you supposed, but far different.
Who is he that would become my follower? 5
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?
The way is suspicious—the result uncertain, perhaps destructive;
You would have to give up all else—I alone would expect to be your God, sole and exclusive,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,
The whole past theory of your life, and all conformity to the lives around you, would have to be abandon’d; 10
Therefore release me now, before troubling yourself any further—Let go your hand from my shoulders,
Put me down, and depart on your way.
Or else, by stealth, in some wood, for trial,
Or back of a rock, in the open air,
(For in any roof’d room of a house I emerge not—nor in company, 15
And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or dead,)
But just possibly with you on a high hill—first watching lest any person, for miles around, approach unawares,
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of the sea, or some quiet island,
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,
With the comrade’s long-dwelling kiss, or the new husband’s kiss, 20
For I am the new husband, and I am the comrade.
Or, if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,
Where I may feel the throbs of your heart, or rest upon your hip,
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;
For thus, merely touching you, is enough—is best, 25
And thus, touching you, would I silently sleep and be carried eternally.
But these leaves conning, you con at peril,
For these leaves, and me, you will not understand,
They will elude you at first, and still more afterward—I will certainly elude you,
Even while you should think you had unquestionably caught me, behold! 30
Already you see I have escaped from you.
For it is not for what I have put into it that I have written this book,
Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it,
Nor do those know me best who admire me, and vauntingly praise me,
Nor will the candidates for my love, (unless at most a very few,) prove victorious, 35
Nor will my poems do good only—they will do just as much evil, perhaps more;
For all is useless without that which you may guess at many times and not hit—that which I hinted at;
Therefore release me, and depart on your way.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012



6122  Parmenides is famous for denying the existence of becoming and passing away.

Thus is becoming chased away and destruction not to be found out.

Non-existence cannot come to be and existence cannot cease to be.  If all things thinkable exist and their becoming unthinkable is unthinkable, then they cannot cease to exist.  The logic is tight.  So what are we to think of this world of seeming change? Of the becoming and destruction all around us?  Is it all error?  It is the middle world.  The everyday, ordinary world.  The world at which we dare not look with a precise looking.  As Augustine and Descartes said, I understand time perfectly as long as I don't think about what it is.  A close reading of existence, so far from the work-a-day world, reveals marvels of stillness.  And a slight divine madness in oscillation.  Decide which you want and go with it.  I prefer Being against becoming.  De gustibus non disputandum est.  Does it really matter?

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