Friends, this is high school with a business model.
While our value in the marketplace depends on our reputations, we are not reducible to “captial,” “assets,” “currency” or any other measure.
What I write on this blog, what I tweet, what I share through LinkedIn and Facebook, is not for an “audience.” I have readers here. That’s who I write for. While my services, whatever they are, have value in the marketplace, and I get paid for some of them, that’s not why I write what I write—here, in Twitter or anywhere other than in private correspondence that concerns actual business.
Somewhere back in the early days, this blog plateau’d at about 20,000 regular readers. It’s still there, I’m sure, though I haven’t checked in years. On Twitter I’ve got about 12,000 followers, who I suspect are a subset of my blog readers. That’s fine with me. I’m not looking for more. And I don’t care if I have less. I write stuff that I think is worth sharing, mostly on the old Quaker maxim of not speaking unless you can improve on the silence. Shouting louder isn’t my style. Joking around is. Saying too much or too little is. Being myself is.
Somewhere in the oeuvre of Kurt Vonnegut is a line I can’t find on the Web, but remember going like this: “High school is the core American experience.” [Later… Mike Warot found the original. Very cool.] I think this is true. And I think that’s what this kind of stuff, as otherwise well-intended as it may be, appeals to.
In all people I see myself, none more
and not one a barleycorn less,
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them.
I know I am solid and sound.
To me the converging objects of the universe
All are written to me,
and I must get what the writing means.
I know I am deathless.
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept
by a carpenter’s compass,
I know that I am august,
I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself
or be understood.
I see that the elementary laws never apologize.
I exist as I am, that is enough.
If no other in the world be aware I sit content.
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
One world is aware, and by far the largest to me,
and that is myself.
And whether I come to my own today
or in ten thousand or ten million years,
I cheerfully take it now,
or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.
My foothold is tenoned and mortised in granite.
I laugh at what you call dissolution,
And I know the amplitude of time.
I am a poet of the body,
And I am a poet of the soul.
I am the poet of the woman the same as the man.
And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man,
And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.
I chant a new chant of dilation and pride.
We have had ducking and deprecating about enough.
I show that size is only development.
Have you outstript the rest? Are you the President?
It is a trifle.
They will more than arrive there every one,
and still pass on.
I am he that walks with the tender and growing night.
I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night.
Smile O voluptuous coolbreathed earth!
Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees!
Earth of the departed sunset!
Earth of the mountains misty topt!
Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon
just tinged with blue!
Smile, for you lover comes!
Prodigal! you have given me love!
Therefor I give you love!
O unspeakable passionate love!
Thurster holding me tight that I hold tight!
We hurt each other
as the bridegroom and the bride hurt each other
You sea! I resign myself to you also…
I guess what you mean.
I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers.
I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me.
We must have a turn together.
I undress. Hurry me out of sight of the land.
Cushion me soft. Rock me in billowy drowse.
Dash me with amorous wet. I can repay you!
Howler and scooper of storms!
Capricious and dainty sea!
I am integral with you.
I too am of one phase and all phases.
I am the poet of common sense
and of the demonstrable and of immortality.
And am not the poet of goodness only.
What blurt is it about virtue and about vice?
Evil propels me, and reform of evil propels me.
I stand indifferent.
My gait is no faultfinder’s or rejecter’s gait.
I moisten the roots of all that has grown.
Did you fear some scrofula out
of the unflagging pregnancy?
Did you guess the celestial laws are yet
to be worked over and rectified?
I step up to say what we do is right,
and what we affirm is right,
and some is only the ore of right.
Soft doctrine a steady help as stable doctrine.
Thoughts and deeds of the present
our rouse and early start.
This minute that comes to me over the past decillions.
There is no better than it and now.
Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs,
Disorderly fleshy and sensual…
eating, drinking and breeding.
No sentimentalist… no stander above men and women
or apart from them… no more modest than immodest.
Whoever degrades another degrades me.
And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.
And whatever I do or say I also return.
Through me the afflatus surging and surging.
Through me current and index.
I speak the password primeval.
I give the sign of democracy.
By God, I will accept nothing which all cannot have
their counterpart on the same terms.
Through me many long dumb voices,
Voices of the generations of slaves,
of prostitutes and deformed persons,
f the diseased and despairing,
of thieves and dwarves.
Of cycles of preparation and accretion,
And of the threads that connect the stars
— and of wombs, and of the fatherstuff,
And of the rights of them the others are down upon,
Of the trivial and flat and foolish and despised,
Of the fog in the air and beetles rolling balls of dung.
Through me forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes and lusts. Voices veiled,
and I remove the veil.
Voices indecent are by me clarified and transfigured.
I do not press my finger across my mouth.
I keep as delicate around the bowels
as around the head and heart.
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.
I believe in the flesh and the appetites.
Seeing hearing and feeling are miracles,
and each part and tag of me is a miracle.
Divine I am inside and out;
and make holy whatever I touch or am touched from;
The scent of these armpits is aroma finer than prayer
This head is more than churches or bibles or creeds.
If I worship any particular thing it shall be some
of the spread of my body.
Shared ledges and rests, firm muscular coulter,
it shall be you.
Breast that presses against other breasts, it shall be you.
Mixed tussled hay of head and beard and brawn
it shall be you.
Sun so generous it shall be you,
Vapors lighting and shading my face it shall be you.
Winds whose soft-tickling genitals
rub against me it shall be you.
Hands I have taken, face I have kissed,
mortal I have ever touched, it shall be you.
I dote upon myself. There is that lot of me,
and all so luscious,
Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy.
I cannot tell how my ankles bend…
nor whence the cause of my faintest wish.
A morning glory at my window
satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.
To behold the daybreak!
The little light fades the immense and diaphanous shadows.
The air tastes good to my palate.
Hefts of the moving world turn on innocent bearings,
silently rising, freshly exuding,
Scooting obliquely high and low.
Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous prongs.
Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.
The earth by the sky staid
with the daily close of their junction.
The heaved challenge from the east that moment
over my head,
The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be master!
Dazzling and tremendous how quick
the sunrise would kill me
If I could not now and always send sunrise out of my self.
We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the sun.
We found our own way my soul in
the calm and cool of the daybreak.
My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach.
With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds
and volumes of worlds.
Speech is the twin of my vision…
it is unequal to measure itself.
It provokes me forever.
It says sarcastically, Walt, you understand enough –
why don’t you let it out then?
Come now, I will not be tantalized.
You make too much of articulation.
Encompass worlds but never try to encompass me.
I crowd your noisiest talk by looking toward you.
Writing and talk do not prove me.
I carry the plenum of proof and everything else
in my face.
With the hush of my lips I confound the topmost skeptic.
All truths wait in all things.
They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it.
They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon,
The insignificant is as big to me as any.
What is less or more than a touch?
Logic and sermons never convince.
The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.
Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so.
Only what nobody denies is so.
I think I could turn and live awhile with the animals.
They are so placid and self-contained.
I stand and look at them sometimes half the day long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition.
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins.
Not one is dissatisfied.
Not one is demented with the mania of owning things.
Not one kneels to another nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago.
Not one is respectable or industrious over all the earth.
I am a free companion. I bivouac by invading watchfires.
I turn the bridegroom out of bed and stay with the bride myself,
And tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.
My voice is the wife’s voice,
the screech by the rail of the stairs,
They fetch my man’s body up dripping and drowned.
I understand the large hearts of heroes.
The courage of present and all times.
I am the man. I suffered. I was there.
I am the hounded slave. I wince at the bite of the dogs.
Agonies are one of my changes of garments.
I do not ask the wounded person how he feels.
I myself am the wounded person.
My hurt turns livid upon me as I lean on a cane
Distant and dead resuscitate.
They show as the dial or move as the hands of me…
and I am the clock myself.
The friendly and flowing savage: who is he?
Is he waiting for civilization or past it and mastering it?
Behavior lawless as snowflakes. Words simple as grass.
Uncombed head and laughter and naivete.
They descend in new forms from the tips of his fingers.
They are wafted with the odor of his body and breath.
They fly out of the glance of his eyes.
You there, impotent, loose in the knees,
open your scarfed chops till I blow grit within you.
Spread your palms and lift the flaps of your pockets.
I am not to be denied. I compel.
I have stores plenty and to spare.
And anything I have I bestow.
I do not ask who you are. That is not important to me.
You can do nothing and be nothing
but what I will infold you.
I seize the descending ;man.
I raise him with resistless will.
O despairer, here is my neck.
By God, you shall not go down.
Hang your whole weight upon me.
I dilate you with tremendous breath. I buoy you up.
Every room of your youse do I fill with an armed force.
The weakest and shallowest is deathless with me.
What I do and say the same waits for them.
Every thought that flounders in me
the same flounders in them.
I know perfectly well my own egotism.
And I know my omnivorous words,
and cannot say any less.
And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself.
I do not know what is untried and afterward,
But I know it is sure and alive and sufficient.
It is time to explain myself. Let us stand up.
I am an acme of things accomplished,
and I an encloser of things to be.
Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me.
Afar down I see the huge first Nothing,
the vapor from the nostrils of death.
I know I was even there.
I waited unseen and always.
And slept while God carried me
through the lethargic mist.
And took my time.
Long I was hugged close. Long and long.
Infinite have been the preparations for me.
Faithful and friendly the arms that have helped me.
Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing
like cheerful boatmen;
For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings.
They sent influences to look after what was to hold me.
Before I was born out of my mother
generations guided me.
My embryo has never been torpid.
Nothing could overlay it.
For it the nebula cohered to an orb.
The long slow strata piled to rest it on.
Vast vegetables gave it substance.
Monstrous animals transported it in their mouths
and deposited it with care.
All forces have been steadily employed
to complete and delight me.
Now I stand on this spot with my soul.
I know that I have the best of time and space.
And that I was never measured, and never will be measured.
I tramp a perpetual journey.
My signs are a rainproof coat, good shoes
and a staff cut from the wood.
Each man and woman of you I lead upon a knoll.
My left hand hooks you about the waist,
My right hand points to landscapes and continents,
and a plain public road.
Not I, nor any one else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it for yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born
and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.
Shoulder your duds, and I will mine,
and let us hasten forth.
If you tire, give me both burdens and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip.
And in due time you shall repay the same service to me.
Long enough have you dreamed contemptible dreams.
Now I wash the gum from your eyes.
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.
Long have you timidly waited,
holding a plank by the shore.
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, and rise again,
and nod to me and shout,
and laughingly dash your hair.
I am the teacher of athletes.
He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own
proves the width of my own.
He most honors my style
who learns under it to destroy the teacher.
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then. I contradict myself.
I am large. I contain multitudes.
I concentrate toward them that are nigh.
I wait on the door-slab.
Who has done his day’s work
and will soonest be through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me.
The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me.
He complains of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed. I too am untranslatable.
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
The last scud of day holds back for me.
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any
on the shadowed wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the desk.
I depart as air.
I shake my white locks at the runaway sun.
I effuse my flesh in eddies and drift in lacy jags.
I bequeath myself to the dirt and grow
from the grass I love.
If you want me again look for me under your boot soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean.
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless.
And filtre and fiber your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged.
Missing me one place search another
I stop some where waiting for you.
Today, this is that place.