Essay on Walt Whitman's Song of Myself

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Walt Whitman's Song of Myself

This paper deals with Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" in relation to Julia Kristeva's theories of abjection--my paper does not point to abjection in the text, but rather the significance of the abscence of abjection. This abscence, looming and revolting, arises from Whitman's attemt to refigure a conception of sublimity which delimits the material which can trigger the sublime moment. Whitman's democracy of the sublime is inclusive of those figures on the American landscape, their lives and voices, which are functionalized into his world. This paper employs the theories of George Lukacs and Julia Kristeva allow the unearthing of the archeological layers of Whitman's text.

The most literal adjective
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It lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated. It beseeches, worries, and fascinates desire, which, nevertheless, does not let itself be seduced."[1]

The strange elegance of this specter looms in the relief, in the archaic layers of Song of Myself. It is beyond the foregrounded inversive space--at times utopic and sublime, the space is permeated with universal brotherhood, happiness, the "compelled-sentimental"-- that I attempt to delve into, that source from which generates the repulsive, hidden quivering of a text which, though cast out and forced into absence, looms in the shadowed relief. The edification of his text and of his readership is attempted through the construction of an inversive space which refigures the sublime: the apex of the "cultured." I have chosen those moments in the text in which the poet nears the threshold of bordering abject in order to construct his sublime utopian vision. It is here, this marked refigurement where ecstasy occurs, where material which triggers the sublime is the signal of another text; a repulsive reading looms from the absence of abjection

An invocation of the self begins Song of Myself, positioning the text as an edification of the American readership: "I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as god belongs to you" (lines 1-3). Thus Whitman's work joins with the
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