Modern Authors: Homosexuality and Cannibalism.
To The Seminal Truth? Table of Content.
Need to Explore and Synthesize Freud, Jung, Lancan, and Others.
The Spermatic Imagination
Walt Whitman

Whitman's invention of the spermatic trope... Combining the images of the hero-poet as a sexually charged begetter, fantasizer, and speaker with some bizarre notions about the nature of sperm as the quintessential distillation of the body and the mind, Whitman fashioned a trope in which the persona's sexual arousal and visionary fervor lead him to an inspired vocalism which accompanies, or acts as a surrogate for, orgasm" (Aspiz, 1984: 379).

"The emphasis on the well-sexed male was associated with an amalgam of ideas about the sanctity of sperm: a lingering scientific and popular belief in pangenesis ('each part of the body contributed a fraction of itself to the sperm by way of the blood'), in 'the hereditability of acquired characteristics.' and in vital linkage between the brain and sexual organs. In Whitman's day, many doctors still credited the ancient notion that the 'seminal fluid' was a discharge of the brain" (Aspiz, 1984: 381).

The likelihood that nineteenth-century spermatic notions could appeal to a major poet is confirmed in an essay by Ezra Pound, in which he suggests that the brain originated as 'only a sort of great cloth of genital fluid held in suspense or reserve.' and that the 'fluid' is involved in the formation of mental images. Drawing on the antic theories that had identified the brain fluid with semen..." (Aspiz, 1984: 382).

"Thus his declaration that 'Who touched this, touches a man.' seems to refer to a new Whitman, reborn by godlike fiat from the persona's spermatic plantings (pp. 454-56). And in another shocking image that relates the seed-semen figure to the persona's immortality, the short lyric 'To Him that was Crucified' pairs the Whitman persona and Christ as twin seminal begetters of the new spiritual progeny..." (Aspiz, 1984: 384).

'The persona stretches himself flank to flank against the continent. 'plunging his semitic muscle' (corrected to 'seminal' in the 1971 edition) into the bodies of water, which become "embouchure to him' and 'spend' themselves in him. The 'embouchure' imagery is ambiguously oral and vulval: 'embouchure' denotes the mouth of a river, the opening out of a valley into a plain, and the manner of blowing a wind instrument; 'spending' signifies orgasm, as do 'spends'..." (Aspiz, 1984: 388).

"The poet who wrote 'I sing myself, and celebrate myself' also rejoiced in 'singing the phallus' to express that element 'of myself, without which I were nothing.' For in Whitman's spermatic trope, the poet, his phallus, and his song merge into one harmonious utterance" (Aspiz, 1984: 395).

Modern Authors: Homosexuality and Cannibalism.
Need to Explore and Synthesize Freud, Jung, Lancan, and Others.

Visitor Numbers


Get a Search Engine For Your Web Site

Search This Site Via Google:

This free script provided by JavaScript Kit

To the Home Page for this Web Site: GB Suicide Problems.