What a good thing it is to start Sunday with a close reading of the essay Whitman Drunk by Michael Warner, part of the weighty academic tome, much thumbed and at my bedside for it is quite the resource, Publics and Counterpublics.
What could that title mean? No matter, we’ll never tease it out and Michael Warner is, in all likelihood, off to grander and yet more academic pastures, perhaps to be featured in a forthcoming issue of Civics and Their Discontents, or Maladroits with Posture. Ah, what does it ever mean? Academia, like so much of the mind itself, is at both its best and its worst when it takes itself so very seriously. As it should as it must. And on and on. Sigh.
Now. I am only knee-deep in the thing but already it is yielding good fruits and berries and I am eager to finish it up soon before the rest of the day ebb-tides away.
The essay opens with reference to the long-lost art of the newspaper supplement, this one entitled Franklin Evans; or, The Inebriate that finds its footing wonderfully, astonishingly, with the unvarnished enthusiasm that so much of today’s yen for exhausting wit and caustic irony has stripped away: “Friends of Temperance, Ahoy!”
There is more: “The story I am about to tell you, reader, will be somewhat aside from the ordinary track of the novelist.”
What is not to love? It is a wonder. I am fast now back to the reading and I will report more as this story develops. In the mean, reference and think deeply of the epigraph that opens this mighty academic screed:
“I am as independent as the United States of America!”
–Anonymous drunk of the 1840s being escorted from a bar.
Ahhhh. Everyday is like Sunday.