I haven’t done any reading for a week or so. It would be easy to read a little more of Whitman, and yet it’s quite a labor for me afterwards trying to process it. Even my subconscious mind works on it like some kind of puzzle, creating weird dreams and thoughts. If I could ask Harold Bloom about his ideas as a critic and so forth, I would. It’s a complicated situation for me because I was never able to go back to college, so I feel exiled from the university and the campus; and also, Bloom happens to be dead. Thus, the answers to my questions are securely locked away in the mind of the Sphinx, forever a mystery. Time rolls on and everything will be forgotten, surrounded on every side by millions of years. I’m actually getting this idea from Sandburg’s poetry as well. His message is quite different from Whitman’s, by saying the past is a bucket of ashes and the future equally insignificant. Whitman claims he will be immortal through fame and his body’s atoms will continue to be cycled through nature after his death. It’s almost as if Sandburg scratched out what Whitman said about everlasting life.
I don’t know which attitude I like better, let alone which is the truth. I think Sandburg is pessimistic. But, he makes a point that is nearly indisputable in the wake of Whitman’s attempt at self deification. Both visions are very powerful and hard to reduce. They oppose each other, even though Sandburg admired the other poet.
Therefore I’ve been trying to figure out my readings in two different books.