So first of all, this. At Goodwill. For five bucks.
I have this thing with Walt Whitman. It’s not that kind of thing, because A of all, one of us is deceased, and Number B, he’s just not that into me. Even so, it’s a legit thing, a connection that I’ve had to his poetry since adolescence. I am not usually the sort of girl who wants to lounge bare-legged in the grass communing with Mother Earth, either, and Whitman speaks to me in spite of that, because he’s almost like a secular Jesus. Abhor riches. Stand up for the little guy. Hate tyrants. Serve others. All of that resonates so deeply with me that I practically have cartoon hearts shooting out of my eyes.
Of course, these words are really nice (as are cartoon hearts), but what does it mean to hang these words on the wall? Doesn’t that action make one feel a little glib, a trifle self-satisfied that one has done one’s duty to one’s philosophy, in some way allowing the art to stand in for the deeds? Shouldn’t one have an active, dynamic, complex relationship with one’s views on life?
And shouldn’t one stop referring to oneself as one already?
These are the things I think about when I try to decide what to paint on top of Walt Whitman art that I find at Goodwill. Sure, I could have painted a glowing, feel-good Earth mother, loving animals and the earth and the sun. But I think that makes it even simpler to have a facile relationship with the words, instead of a complicated one.
So! Here’s my complicated woman, having a complicated relationship with Walt Whitman and the earth and the sun. And life. And death. And being blue.
It’s not finished, but it will be next week. Until then, down with tyrants; up with little guys!