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.|| |
Monday, January 7, 2013
2004 Perhaps, because I am different and separated from society, or I feel myself to be so, I have developed or come to be the strong sense of that in my philosophy. I am intimate with the Platonic separation of the Forms from the world. I am intimate with the intimacy of love that is the bridge and secret door to that. I know the opprobrium that burns and the way back is lost forever.
I dream. I dream within words. Because I cannot see what I want to see in my dreams I resort to words, living words, ontological words with a soul inhabiting them. I speak to myself as I watch the disfiguring of ordinary things. Logically and more correctly, I would have to say that that soul speaks me into a disfigurement. The self being a thing of disinterested curiosity from another stand-offish self. Its substance being no more than alkaline scars.
Professional philosophers, thinking they are pleasing to the taxpayers, see themselves upholding the world. They are in the ground of things. They are self-deprecating as pillars should be. They eat and drink and marry as the others, thus proving their point. They are wood. Even the ordinary citizen sees their overburdening groundedness. They have for too long rationalized lack of flight.
My words are just words, but they are sacred words, real, full of other-worldliness, true. They are already become Just words, erect, upright, potent with the closeness of this god, his pillar.
I am here living, propositional characters. I am timeless burning literary figures. I am the avoided eternal Platonic Forms. Society has always bowed to that. I am thus Society. I am of a band of lovers. The Socii. The Self configures. The separation disappears from view.