Meditation and Poetics – (Whitman – 5)

AG: But still, you see, he (Walt Whitman)’s saying.. this has nothing to do with men or women, (it’s) beyond that. See? It’s a question of “Is he proclaiming a universal soul, (with himself as Person), and universal soul that will cover all empathy and every direction, so to speak, egolessly, where the adhesiveness is a natural emanation of any human being, latent in any human being? He’s representing “I celebrate myself, and sing myself, and what I shall assume you shall assume”. (I celebrate myself/And what I assumes you shall assume..”) –  So he’s saying, “This is universal”. Basically, “my feelings are universal”, he’s saying. So there’s this problem – is it that he has feelings and that’s universal? – or these specific feelings? – is one distinction. Feeling is universal, certainly, but there’s also a subtle thing he’s trying to do, (which) is (to) convince other men to love other men, too. He’s trying to open up that area of sympathy, or adhesiveness, between men, (which was necessary in his, and our, time, too). But his proper motive, his own secret motive probably, was to have a response. To open up an area, or a space, where men could respond to him – even if not in his own lifetime.
So that, finally, you get the very great covert erotic suggestion –  “Who touches this book touches a man” (which is read by every high school boy in the nation, throughout the world)

Peter Orlovsky: Also, it was right after the Civil War.

AG: Yeah

Peter Orlovsky: And what (when) did he write?  fifteen years later (than the) Civil War?, where the feeling of the uselessness of the Civil War – the dead bodies.. the young men bodies dying

AG: Yeah, you’ll find that later – his appreciation and sympathy for the young wounded, and his mothering and nursing of the young wounded, which is presented as universal sympathy, and yet, there’s this… also a wash of erotic compassion.

Gregory Corso: It’s spooky, Allen, I know it man. He’s got these dying soldiers and starts sucking their dick! They didn’t do nothing! ..

AG: Kissing them.

Gregory Corso: Even when you’re dying, you’ve got a dick!

AG: ..Or worse. Or worse, at their last dying moment, bending down, and, you know, at the last moment they’re kissing this bearded face! He boasts.. How many…

So, it’s a funny thing, and yet, on the other hand, you might say that, if you looked into anybody’s heart, sure, that’s the way we are. We are all seeking our own erotic level, and so he’s just displaying his erotic level. There’s a certain disguise here but what’s universal is not the display of the erotic level, but the erotic level that is displayed, in other words, the erotic universality, the erotic sympathy (erotic sympathy, which is universal in one form or another). And everybody’s different, actually. You couldn’t classify him as homosexual as opposed to hetrerosexual, because actually there is no such black-and-white distinction, there’s, like, a vast spectrum, in which everybody’s freaky in his own way, (I mean, everybody has his own particular fetishes or eidolons, erotic eidolons) and there are no two alike and you couldn’t really divide it just into heterosexual and homosexual.

Gregory Corso: “When I fuck a chick in the ass, I like to eat meatballs”! There’s nothing like that.

AG [momentarily taken aback, and responding to Gregory’s outburst]: There’s a unique display – which is no more unique than Whitman’s (actually) – or anybody else’s here.
And so, if we actually did a check-out on everybody’s private fantasies, the really private fantasies of everybody, they would be all as, if you want to call this eccentric, everybody would be as eccentric, or non-average, as Whitman. In other words, everybody would be unique, everybody would have their own sized shoe. So he’s actually speaking for the individual, with his own size cock, or shoe, or cunt, or heart…

(Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fifteen minutes in  and concluding at approximately twenty minutes in] 

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