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Leaves of Grass

Reading Whitman, Growing Up Rock ‘n’ Roll

With the exception of television, no cultural influence in the last forty years has been as powerful and pervasive as popular music. Across a startling range of forms and styles—heavy metal, hip-hop, emo, rhythm and blues, glam, jam, grunge, and punk (to name just a few)—the music has shaped everything from our fantasies to our sexuality to the way we express emotional conflict.

Reflections on Whitman in Age

Yet even the “world” itself is imagination, simply “the length of a human life,” as its etymology defines. The 150 years since Whitman's Leaves of Grass was first published is a moment in any world so conceived, and the bridges to and from such world are not determined by rational judgments or understanding. One knows, as is said—one recognizes the footprints on the floor of the caves in the Dordogne, dating back to the Upper Paleolithic—so very far, finally, from any intellectual understanding or resolution, however insistently attempted.