May 22, 2007

WALT WHITMAN, DHARMA BUM


Caption: Venus is a big Leaves of Grass fan.

Greetings to first time readers. Here's the Goat Rope drill: this blog generally comes out daily (once on weekends) and deals with social and economic justice issues. Usually, each weekday post has links and comments about current events and ideas and a guiding thread or theme that ties the week together.

This week, the thread is a poem of Walt Whitman's titled "Song of Prudence." If this is your first visit, please click on yesterday's post.

(I will skip over the fact that good ol' Walt wasn't always the most prudent of people. Good though.)

This poem of Whitman's appeared in the 1856 second edition of Leaves of Grass and is not one of his better known works. It is vast in spirit (but could have used some judicious editing).

I first discovered this poem not in Leaves of Grass but in an obscure and largely forgotten book of D.T. Suzuki's on Mahayana Buddhism. If memory serves, and it may not, Suzuki overheard someone discussing the poem and thought it was an exposition of Mahayana Buddhist teaching.

Actually, there were some interesting connections between early American writers like Emerson and Thoreau and Asian religion, although relatively little was known here about the topic at the time. We know that these writers influenced Whitman, who later influenced many American poets, particularly the Beats. For an entertaining survey of the history of Buddhism in American, see Rick Fields' enjoyable but "early" (1981) How the Swans Came to the Lake.

Next time, we'll break it down.

MORE ON THE U.S. CHAMBER OF GIBBERISH. A great source of information for WV current events is Lawrence Messina's Lincoln Walks at Midnight, a "just the facts" blog. Check the above link for a great summary of the bizarre jihad the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is waging against El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia, which seems to be embarrassing local chambers of commerce. I don't think the US Chamber would be happy unless we abolish the whole civil justice system. As the link shows, basic fact-checking shows their propaganda to be, shall we say, factually challenged.

THE TALIBANIZATION OF IRAQ. Here's an item from Ms. Magazine about the declining status of women and the growth in violence against them in Iraq.

SPEAKING OF GRATUITOUS ANIMAL PICTURES, for a look at some really weird undersea critters, click here.

GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED

2 comments:

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I appreciate the article on the “Talibanization” of Iraq. It was only a matter of time. Women (and children) are always the first to be oppressed when fundamentalists felx their muscles.

El Cabrero said...

Thanks, Nick. I guess we should have seen that one coming, huh?