Sunday, May 12, 2013

Walt Whitman on Life After Death

I bequeath myself to the dirt to 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 filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.
Walt Whitman: Song of Myself, Part 52.

Comment: I like the irreverence of these closing lines to both the poem and life.

I find no comfort in the notion that death is a door or passage to an afterlife where resolution makes clear all that is muddied and painful now.

It is a form of wishful thinking, is it not?  This thing called faith and its ordinary twin, hope.

Even if we were to be offered resolution in the form of resurrection what would it mean?  Would it cover the gross indecency of genocide, for example?  Would it offer a lighter side to the horror of children dying from hunger in a world filled with food and fat people?

Or more mundanely, would it offer meaning to a measured life of following rules and doing everything by the book only to come up short and die anyway?

I agree with the existentialists, sometimes.  Particularly Camus.  Life does not come with a meaningful directive or plot.

To live with meaning is to find meaning.  Just to live is suicide.

In these terms most of us commit suicide anyway.  Perhaps more so now than ever before.

In this world of manufactured everything we need not even think or fathom or feel.  It is packaged for us even before we exist and long after we have left.

If this is life then I feel vindicated each morning when I step outside of my comfortable hideaway and breath out the absolute contempt I have for what we have created: our politics, our beliefs, our things, and most of all, our brutality.

Inside of this contempt it is not death that should be feared.

It is, in fact, life.


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