Walt Whitman ~ Creativity

Yesterday, Sweetie & I were walking on the beach, talking. As occasionally happens, when we started talking about Walt Whitman, he popped in to contribute. The very first thing he said to me was,

You should read my books. (gentle, teasing smile)

For anyone who’s read the Harry Potter books, Walt Whitman comes across with all the charm, wit, wisdom and kindness of Dumbledore. He speaks on two levels: what he says with his words, and what he doesn’t say, which is sometimes louder than what he actually said. This makes him an absolute pleasure to speak with telepathically, as he’s making use of both “positive and negative” space in my mind, resulting in a conversation that feels relaxed and warming, as though he is holding my mind gently in his hands, as he sits before a warm, crackling fire, and discusses the most wonderful things in the world.

Now, I’m going to do my best to translate what he tells me. Please understand that these are not necessarily verbatim WW words, but my best attempt at translation of the conversational exchange.

(Indicates poetry, and the “negative space”) I adore poetry; it is a manner of writing which allows the background space of the words to speak. Much may be said without saying it.

Sweetie was saying yesterday that at some point in her university studies, she came upon something in a biography of you saying you were a known psychic. Is that true?

That I was a known psychic or that (that) was written about me?

Both.

Both are true. (teasing quiet smile, little blue eye sparkle) I did not translate (medium work for hire) for others as you do, I merely declined to close that particular door in my mind, choosing to leave it ajar so that the unseen and unknown could come and go. (They are / were amusing, comforting, good company, helpful with creativity.)

I inadvertently asked a question about God, and he immediately replied.

I did intuitively feel it was a helpful source of inspiration, and I did feel sorrow for children who grew up and closed that door in their minds. I (shows me Peter Pan) decided not to “mature” in that way. I did not call it God, yet I feel that connection as you do, touching the thread, the heartstring of the universe, our harp string. (Shows me one end of the harp string connected to you, the incarnate, the other connected to all, the infinite, God. Shows me plucking that harp string to create music, art, love, poetry, and telepathic conversation, communion with all that is both potential and physical.)

He asks me, Have you thought of (spirits, the discarnate) – are we / they potential life, or actual life?

He then plucks a George Carlin quote from my mind, OH NO I’VE LOST IT!!!! It was there and I thought “I didn’t expect George Carlin to be quoted by Walt Whitman,” and then Walt said, Mr. Carlin and I frequently enjoy each other’s company. He was a great appreciator of my work, and I of his. He sought me out soon after he (died.)

Please help me to remember that quote, or please give it to me again so I can include it. (I have to let it go at this point, because “trying” to remember it is going to cause a block in this conversation.)

Walt says, I (have great appreciation / enjoy) the humour of George Carlin, as it embodies the immaturity of a young boy, with the crackling wisdom of a very old man. (Shows me a fall leaf on the ground, crackling underfoot.)

George Carlin says, Waaaa, and he has such a pretty face!!! (Grips Walt’s chin roughly and jiggles it a bit, like a-) I was going to say, “Like an Italian Mama” but George interrupts me and says, Like a BROOKLYN MAMA! Such a pretty face!!!

The roughness of George is a funny and pleasing contrast to the refined subtlety of Walt. They both appreciate this contrast created by the other’s presence. I’m ‘gonna just sit here and listen, says George.

George, maybe you could help me remember that thing from earlier.

Geroge hops in again, You’re talking about creativity, I have just one thing to say, then I’ll shut the hell up and let Mr. Wonderful here have the floor: FUCK what anyone else thinks! FUCK ‘EM! There’s a Carlin Quote for ya!

I fucking love you, George Carlin. (He waves like, Walt has the floor again.)

Walt is now dressed like Dumbledore. I watched the creation of those novels with envious anticipation! I am greatly flattered by your comparison of me to the headmaster. We (shows me himself and a small auditorium of other creative artists in the room surrounding J.K. Rowling as she worked on the Harry Potter world.) I enjoy the thought (that I) may have inspired a portion of Dumbledore’s character, and now he inspires my own.

This is another little quiet joke, indicating the infinite progression of creation.

Walt reminds me of a statement he made yesterday. As we are bent over the task of creation, we become Creator, (we are God.) Creation is the (state closest to the divine, as we honour our own divine, creative nature.) Creation, creativity is a sacred act, and it is essential (to the continuity of the creative process) to give our own creation highest honor. It is not for the creator to judge his work, but to watch in fascination and respect as his work moves outwards into the world.

It is therefore a sacred act of writers to be rejected by publishers. (eye twinkle)

Oh yeah, yesterday he also said that the editorial process is overrated, and that he stopped showing his work to other people before publishing it.

Ha. Walt gives me the song, “Woop, there it is!” He reminds me of his anonymous letters to the editor, raving about his own self-published works, and compares it to Kurt Cobain calling a radio station requesting his own single until they finally played it on air.

Walt, Sweetie was saying how you used to hang out in your garden and talk with all the little invisible creatures living there. Did you see them, or sense them? Would you please tell us about them?

The garden is the happiest place. He shows me a Japanese bonsai garden, water garden and Zen meditation garden. He says, “My own” and shows me a garden some would describe as overgrown; a small pond, lots of random rocks everywhere. (He interjects -who am I to move them?) There are large flowering trees that hang down and over a small mossy bench. There are overturned, cracked flowerpots that “house” some of the smaller creatures, both the physical and the invisible.

Walt says, I would sit among them and address them, “Hello my little friends.” He shows me eating an apple, leaving pieces of it out for the other creatures. Sometimes a bird would take it, sometimes insects, sometimes a fairy would manifest as a hummingbird or an iridescent beetle. Sometimes a field mouse would appear. In respect and appreciation for all who lived in his garden, he protected its wild, unkempt state.

He says, At my writing desk, I bask in the meanderings of the mind in the way I sit in the wildness of my neglected and much-loved garden. The wildness of the garden is the door ajar in my mind, the connection to childhood and the part of being that does not judge what it sees. A child would look upon my garden and see adventure, not weeds, not overgrowth or a wildness gone to seed. I look upon the work of the mind as a child looks upon a wild garden; a place of wonder, magic and mystery; a place which can never be fully known or understood, a place which will keep dear its secrets and whisper to children.

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11 thoughts on “Walt Whitman ~ Creativity

  1. He’s lovely, isn’t he?

    I thought it was so interesting that Carlin came in and that he admired Whitman’s work. And surprising. Except then I remembered that they were both New Yorkers, and it made perfect sense.

    And the way you describe him reminds me of the way Allen Ginsberg describes him in the poem A Supermarket in California (which I’m going to post here in its entirety because I like it):

    ***

    A Supermarket in California

    What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the
    streets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.

    In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit
    supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
    What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles
    full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes! — and you,
    Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?
    I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the
    meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
    I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price
    bananas? Are you my Angel?
    I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and
    followed in my imagination by the store detective.
    We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting
    artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.
    Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does
    your beard point tonight?
    (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel
    absurd.)
    Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to
    shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.
    Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in
    driveways, home to our silent cottage?
    Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you
    have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and
    stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

    Allen Ginsberg

    ***

    I somehow forgot when we were talking to him that Whitman was (supposedly) gay. Remember that episode of Northern Exposure where Chris “outs” Whitman on the radio, then Maurice flips out and threatens Chris, then consoles himself by listening to show tunes? Classic.

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  2. Yeah I actually thought he was born in England too. Wiki says he was born in New York State, but I thought that I heard on that New York documentary that we watched that he had moved there as a young man.

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  3. Along similar lines, it occurred to me (or rather, “someone” put it in my head) to post this Sylvia Plath quote:
    “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

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  4. Nice entry. I’ve read some, but not enough, Walt Whitman. “Leaves of Grass” is dense foliage, for sure. Although, tt’s kind of funny, that Ginsberg poem popped in my head as well.

    I like Sylvia Plath a lot. Her work was amazing and she truly was her own worst critic. Here’s something interesting…a few hours drive from me, in the Lilly Library in Bloomington, IN, there is a Sylvia Plath collection. They have a braid of her actual hair. I guess they’ll bring it out to you, and you can pick it up. It might be worth a road trip sometime. I wonder what kind of energy I’d get from it. I only found about the braid a couple of years ago and forgot about it until now.

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  5. Oooo, one more thing I came across tonight. I thought this quote sort of fit this post.

    “J.K. Rowling arrived at the Royal Albert Hall yesterday to meet some of her many fans and said: ‘This is the nearest I’ll ever get to being a Beatle.’ Facing the screams of 4,000 children who had gathered to mark the publication of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, she added: ‘I see myself as the George Harrison of the book world.’ ”

    telegraph.co.uk (2003) —

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