Wednesday, 5 March 2014
When the American genocide began, the invaders were free to smash upward into something new but instead made a preface of repeating everything Europe had done, giving special emphasis to the garbage. This stale gauntlet reached a pitch with Henry James, who prayed before a silver semicolon and exercised a restraint so radical he imploded, taking a tornado of teak furniture and thousands of readers with him. A style prevailed that stated as little as possible in the most possible words. They even used this dross to paint over native masterpieces like the Popol Vuh. Among the few who ignored the colonial recapitulation was Walt Whitman, whose Leaves of Grass is so brilliant it’ll pin you to your body. Some works are not dry tissue waiting for an observer to come and vitrify them. In a society which has amassed standards as a buttress against curiosity and invention, there are works with so many building code violations that a life of dazzling density finds its way in at every hole, shoots growing like turning keys. While others complained that the sky was nowhere near the window, Whitman opened the foliage door to astonishment. A bird could fly through it.