We Americans don’t just agree with Whitman on this point: we hear him say this kind of thing and we scream “Wheeeeeeooooow!” and pump our devil-horned fists in the air along with his crankin’ self-as-measure-of-the-world beat. For us there can be no found pleasure sweeter than that which we were the first to find; no find more exciting than the one about which no-one else knows. Now, this is ridiculous, of course; in Hinduism, the very idea of learning something from any source other than a learned authority is considered childish at best, and Buddhism agrees on this point, as do Islam and all versions of Christianity until, surprise, American pentecostalism, which believes that it’s how you feel about God that counts, not how God feels about you. But really, what better way is there to learn what’s true than from somebody who’s an expert on truth? Who better to teach you how to play the saxophone than somebody who knows all there is to know about playing the saxophone? It seems self-evident. Somehow we don’t embrace this proposition in America, though. We never have. We would rather remain blissfully savage if the alternative involved getting enlightened by outside sources.

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 next    

- LPTJ -
home   archive   issues   music   contact   links