Sunday, May 06, 2012


On the Move, Then and Now

Guy Davenport (1927-2005), "Whitman," in The Geography of the Imagination (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1981), pp. 68-79 (at 72):
And at the center of all Whitman's poetry there is movement. His age walked with a sprier step than ours; it bounced in buckboard and carriage; a man on a horse has his blood shaken and his muscles pulled. A man in an automobile is as active as a sloth; an airplane ride offers no activity more strenuous than turning the pages of a magazine. Dullness, constant numbing dullness, was the last thing Whitman would have thought of America, but that is what has happened.
Thanks to Ian Jackson for giving me a copy of this splendid book. If my life had taken a slightly different turn, I might have met and perhaps even taken a class from Davenport, who taught at the University of Kentucky from 1963 to 1990. In 1972 I was interested in patristics and wanted to go to graduate school. I applied to the University of Kentucky because Louis Swift, a specialist in patristics, taught there. But the University of Kentucky didn't offer a Ph.D. in classics, and so I decided to go elsewhere.

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