Tuesday, March 1, 2011

RTT: Leaves of Grass and Grass Skirts

If you like Random Thoughts Tuesday, take a look at Keely, the Un Mom. Go ahead, it won't kill you. It's way better than reading my crap. And she invented it, to boot.


If, in your time, you have read (and who hasn't?), you may have come across a poet/essayist by the name of Walt Whitman. Oh! Sing you joy who have his words ingested for your body's amelioration!*

Thank you, Walt* - that's enough. If you ever enjoyed Whitman, then I have a book suggestion for you. One of my favorite reads is Proust Was a Neuroscientist,
by Jonah Lehrer.

The book is a wonderful cleaving together of usually disparate enterprises: Art, via writing, painting, cooking, music, etc., and Science. It is not a book of conciliation so much as a wonderful reminder that there are gray areas, but even the gray areas need not be complete mysteries. Although science may define and describe our world - and we are the better for it, no doubt - there are those outside of the sciences whose work through their art has shone a light on science and helped us advance, but who did so neither as science, nor for science.

Back to Walt Whitman we go.
When Whitman writes to us, "Come, said my soul, Such verses for my Body let us write, (for we are one,)", he foreshadowed and described part of the field of neuroscience, which understands that the body is mind and the mind is body. But not just Whitman. In the book you'll read of Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Igor Stravinsky, Auguste Escoffier, Paul C├ęzanne, George Eliot, and Gertrude Stein. It details how each of them did the same as Whitman, and either knowingly, unknowingly, or by complete random accident, discovered and described things about humans that we are only now re-discovering.
I can't recommend it enough, for those who are interested in studying humanity and what makes us us.

As for Leaves of Grass, by Whitman, if you've never read it, at least give it a try. It's beautiful. Difficult in places, but worth taking your time and working through. His I Sing The Body Electric should move anyone with a heartbeat.


As for the Grass Skirts, I have a cool little hand-made knickknack that my father brought home from the south Pacific during WWII. It is a little "dude" (code for androgynous being, since it is impossible to know if it's a guy or girl) in a grass skirt, playing a stringed instrument of some kind. Or at least, I HAD it. The little, four-inch tall guy, made entirely out of coconut shell and husk, made it through the last year of the war, and through 60 years of moves and kids, grandkids, dogs, etc., only to be lost last week to a random, and unfortunately thorough, house cleaning.

RIP little dude.


And just like that, I have found the little dude! It's like a Festivus Miracle, only it involved dumpster diving and cursing a lot.
Here he is, for all to see!

With Grass Skirt!

Maybe I should start a contest to name him/it/she/her/whatever (I kinda think it's a he, actually)? Suggestions?


Stuff in the background, for the curious:

The baseball is a real MLB baseball, and is autographed by Whitey Ford and Don Larsen

The helicopter illustration is a gift to me for my graduation from U.S. Army Flight School. 


* FYI, that isn't Whitman, if you haven't figured it out. It was me doing a mentally stunted version of Whitman, using both of my brain cells at once. Now I must rest.


  1. Leaves of Grass is a superb poem and it invites shouting (barbaric yawps). Everyone should experience the life force in that poem.

  2. I heart you. I will read your book recommendation. But probably not "Leaves of Grass" because I need my brain to stay in the semi-solid state if I hope to drive my twins to preschool. Maybe next year I'll get back to Walt.*

    Not to step on dbs's Wordfuse enterprise, but I vote Lazarhusk. You know, returned from the dead (dumpster, whatever) and is made from coconut husks. Crap. Wordfuse is hard.

    *That wasn't Walt from the grave, talking!? Had me fooled.

  3. I too love the new header and ditto Nicole for her wordfuse.
    P.S. I hope Chelle reads this to see that dumpster diving treat; I bet she could make an awesomely ugly sock version of it.

  4. I haven't read a lot of Whitman, but what I've read I loved.

    I looooooooooove your little dude!! I think he looks like a Lyle. Or a Bosco.

  5. I like all the name ideas. Thanks! Glad the new header works ok too.

  6. Love the new header. Hate Walt Whitman.

  7. @Raven: Thanks.

    @Nicki: Thanks. You just hate Whitman because he stole your idea for little boxes of chocolate samplers, don't you?

    And one wonders how popular "Leaves of Grass" would have been if it had been published under its original title, "Grass! What is it Good For?"