From today’s massive, subversive and powerfully creative world of the Beats and beyond which artist and/or writer inspired you most? Which unresolved question did they bring to stir your imagination? Which innovation in language, in image most struck your sense of what was powerful and new?
I found love in Allen Ginsberg’s drug and sex induced haze. I have never fallen so completely in love with a writing style, and I found when reading the poem aloud (as is my custom with poetry) the words flowed in a way I had never heard them flow before. The movement of sound was simply marvelous, part song, part story, part poem. The simply state of free flowing, honest madness was something I couldnt look away from. The references to Moloch, the god associated with child sacrifice, further drew me in as it served to further his anti-establishment adgenda, while simultaneously turning “the greatest minds of [his] generation” into martyrs, sacrificed to an evil presence. The slow descent into true madness in this poem is so well done it set my heart to beating double, and my world to moving faster. In short- it gave me anxiety. However this does not count against it. It is by far my favourite poem I have read all semester.
What do you think Faulkner might have meant by the caption that is around his neck in the image at the top of this blog?
“Dont bother just to be better than your contemoraries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
Progression is the natural human state. Once we discover we enjoy something, and furthermore excel in it, we strive to be the best. Our huberis is to be commended in this as it creates great art, architecture, writing, and forces people to excel in every field. However too often we only measure ourselves by our fellows. In making this mistake we become that which can only be considered abhorent- we become stagnant. Faulkner seeks to destroy this concept that one’s talent is defined by surpassing others and challenges people to surpass themselves. This must be done as the only true way to ensure one always improves is to be vigilent and mindful of all their competition- including the person they were yesterday.
Write a response, either agreeing or disagreeing, with Mina Loy’s revolutionary suggestion that women should undergo “unconditional surgical destruction of virginity”
Mina Loy’s jarring statement “the first enforced law for the female sex, as a protection against the man made bogey of virtue – which is the principal instrument of her subjugation, would be the unconditional surgical destruction of virginity through-out the female population at puberty”, despite being shocking and provoking a near viceral reaction, is a statement which I personally agree with to a lesser degree. Society, even in this day and age, places far too much emphisis on virginity and purity. We as a society need to wake up to the myth of virginity, as people growing up in this age of reletive sexual liberation still believe the the ‘virginity’ is a medical truth, a kind of barrier that must be destroyed at first penetration. The stigma that goes hand in hand with this idea of the virginity as something tangible is almost as disgusting as Loy’s notion of getting rid of virgity at puberty. The perception of women as broken or used because they didn’t retain their useless farce of innocence and purity is a relic of an old society in which women were only valued for their breeding ability. This perception of sexually active women as undesrable gives way to the phenomenon the Loy speaks of; the great conquest that is taking a womans viriginity. To this day men trip over eachother in a rush to try and be the first to claim the ‘pure woman’. She is more desirable than the others, and because of this she is reduced to a prize for only the most masculine to claim. In modern society too many people still view pleasure in sex as a purely male domain, and women’s sexual encounters as trophies for their male counterparts.
In this sense, the destruction of the virginity is vital – it never really existed anyway.
O Captain My Captain was written as an elegy to Abraham Lincoln, his hero and a man whom he found himself deeply attatched to despite the fact that they had never met. His captaining of the metaphoric ship, the United States of America, during the Civil War earned him the respect of Walt Whitman. His use of personal pronouns in the title, and recurring first lines of each stanza implies a personal relationship with Lincoln, despite the fact that he had never met him. “Oh Captain, My Captain” he says. This implies his reverie for Lincon, and his willingness to follow him, as a sailor might give his loyalty to a Captain.
Explore the reasons why Whitman might have called his book of poems Leaves of Grass
Whitman’s book “Leaves of Grass” is a series of poems that ruminate on the nature of life and death, and the simple joys one finds in the world around him. These joys are found in nature and in the connections between all things, and this it is obvious why the title of the book should refer to plantlife. More specifically however, the interconnectedness of man with nature, and moreover with the universe is reflected in title. Grass, being itself a component of nature, is all constantly growing and changing, interconnected with itself in order to create great fields as we see them. This connection of a myriad of tiny blades in order to create a whole is a very important theme in Whitman’s work.
The connection with nature is integral to the meaning of the work as a whole, as everything lends itself to it- from the contents of the poems to the structure of the set as a whole. The poems are ordered as in a biography, with the earlier poems concerning youth and more human and emotional senses and issues, and the latter poems concerning death and the circle of life and the spirit.
It is worth mentioning that the use of symbolism was generally quite personal at Whitman’s time. One might use things important or significant to them. Whitman however used symbols he had observed in nature- in this case using platlife to represent the natural cycle of life and how all things are connected- and this was highly unusual. It has the effect of bringing the idea that nature is a higher power than ourselves into view.