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L.Kelly-Bowditch's picture

Whitman and Sontag

When I began reading Whitman, my first reaction was confusion at the stilted, snapshot like images he presented to us. I couldn't figure out where he was taking me, what I was supposed to get out of this.

Then I remembered--I wasn't supposed to do that.

It seems that Sontag's argument to see art, in this case Whitman's poetry,  as an invitation to new outlooks on life, new ways of seeing things, fit together with Whitman's admonishment to stop being proud of our ability to understand the meaning of poems. 

He wasn't trying to make a point or teach us anything specific, but rather give us an outlet to reconsider the people he was passing on the street. Those brief snapshots let us reconsider how we see the world, and thus open up new and different choices for our lives.

Once I put two and two together, I really enjoyed reading Whitman's observations and have since rediscovered the joy of people watching on my way to class. 


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