Posts Tagged ‘ENGL458’

Postcard from St. Lucia

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

postcard st. lucia

helpful links: Gwendolyn’s essay  and Paul Jay’s article

Body Positive Whitman

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

So as we were wrapping up class earlier this morning, a thought struck me and I couldn’t help but laugh.

I feel like we’ve all (hopefully) seen the sexiestmanontheplanet wonderful Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” memes on the interwebs. I used the idea (and The Gos man himself) for a body positive nonfiction final project last semester (you may have seen the posters plastered around campus the last week or two of the semester) and now, I not only think they’re hilariously wonderful, I randomly connect academia to memes. Problematic, right? Possibly. But today, it was absolutely awesome.

Example for the unfamiliar:

Hey Girl Gosling Fall 2012

So back to the point: Walt Whitman.
Gay, straight, tall, short, man, woman, skinny, fat, hairy, hairless, smelly, not smelly: EMBRACE YOURSELF! You are large, you contain multitudes! You are everything you desire, desire to be, and more! Whitman’s acceptance of this is refreshing and something that I feel needs to be practiced and believed by everyone. Loving yourself can ultimately be a religious experience (example: meditation and yoga encourages one to let go to be able to accept and love flaws or, better yet, what society convinces you are flaws…like armpits! haha.) I’ve known plenty of people who are turned off by his love and admiration for himself, but why? At the time, the body was a sinful, shameful thing. At this current time, we are constantly surrounded  by images of what OTHERS define as “beautiful” and we are merely (use any put down word you’d like here) peasants. We should look to Whitman for (specifically lines 526-528) a confidence booster. I’m divine, my smell is MINE and is perfect for ME, my head is more than others because it is mine, it is knowledge, understanding, peace, and love (all words I’d associate with church and the bible.) He’s like THE FATHER of the “Hey Girl” meme movement!

Whitman knows he owns it and thinks you should too:

Body Lovin' Whitman

This blog entry might seem a tad forced…but establishing connections is important, right? Connection: MADE.

Walt Whitman Bridge

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Is an actual place on I-76 in Delaware that connects New Jersey and Philadelphia.  Walt Whitman and his work has been so significant that people have wished to commemorate his honor with structures that we imagine to be as everlasting as his influence.  What made Whitman so significant is easy to see but sometimes hard to describe.

In class today we touched on a lot of aspects of Walt Whitman’s life and work.  We learned the details of his biography including his relationships and geography.  Kristina opened discussion on some major topics like mind/body relationships, epiphany, and sexuality.   Our classmates mentioned gender polarity and indulged Whitman’s homoeroticism that lead us to explore the roles of our bodies, the transcendence of our souls, and the manifestations of our desires.  I found a few quotes that we missed in class that I think have a lot to say about these topics:

“Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always sex, Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life.”
and..
“I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is…”

 

One subject we didn’t cover in as much detail was the “witness”.  I find myself thinking about what it means to be a witness—to the world, to my community, to my loved ones, and to myself.  A witness holds account of things going on around them.  Based on our discussion about Whitman’s life and his experience witnessing the pain of soldiers—an experience that left him somewhat emasculated and significantly more observant— I am left to wonder how witness plays a role in our reading of the work.  Are we the intended audience, are we witnessing Whitman, or is he witnessing himself, or expecting us to witness him witnessing himself in order to inspire us to call attention to ourselves?  In my opinion it’s just his ploy to get us thinking about it

Song of Myself  is an obvious celebration of human life. Whitman’s poem provides an epic commentary on humanity as a whole and as an individual at the same time.  This is the unity we talked about.  He explores beauty and nature through the eyes of a conscious witness. It is evident in the evolution of Whitman’s writing that his experiences influenced his art.   Eventually we are left to wonder who is to bear witness to whom or to what confused by speaker and point of view.  In my opinion it’s just his ploy to get us thinking about the nature of wholeness and being which is, to me, a combination of sexuality, appreciation for nature, and giving witness or providing record.