Whitman and Loaferism

I am reading Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography. I tried reading his Leaves of Grass, but knew I was not understanding it. Most Americans, to this date – will claim they understand and appreciate him. When they most certainly do not.

America has always had two approaches to life – one that was obsessed with success, and one that was not.

Once our family was picnicking in a park, when a hobo came wandering through, looking for food in the garbage cans. My Aunt was horrified to see him – and made an uncomplimentary remark about his character. To my surprise, my father came to his rescue “That is his chosen lifestyle!” he said.

I can also remember his attitude towards a dim-witted fellow called Shep, in our home town of Ft. Madison, Iowa. In the summer, he camped along the Mississippi River, and lived a very simple life. In the winter, he worked for the Laundry, where it was warm.

Some of the other workers tried to bully him, and he fought back. When taken before a Judge, he severely reprimanded the guys who had bullied him. After that, they left him alone.


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