Monday, September 12, 2005

Rockson's Barbaric Yawp

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering. I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world... I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles. You will hardly know who I am or what I mean, But I shall be good health to you nonetheless, And filter and fibre your blood. Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged, Missing me one place search another, I stop somewhere waiting for you. ~Walt Whitman/Leaves of Grass/Song of Myself
Ephraim Loy is on the roll! The last time his letter appeared in the ST Forum, he suggested that bloggers should be educated by the authorities about what should or shouldn't be blogged; naturally, some took notice. Last Friday, the forums editor published (with wicked glee over the imminent backlash, I'd imagine) his letter of complaint about this magazine called Lime promoting Rockson's blog. He thinks that it's not good for young people to be exposed to this sort of thing. (mrbrown has the context.) Now Rockson has probably one of the most vulgar local blogs, but strangely enough, it has serious social consciousness oozing out of its HTML code. So if you feel you've had enough warning, go here. Rockson reminds me of Whitman, America's greatest poet (at least to me, because he's the only American poet I kind of read on and off). Whitman's stuff was vulgar to his contemporaries because they didn't like what he wrote. Whitman celebrates things that once were vulgar, like the human body (I Sing The Body Electric), boring things like 'blacksmithing, glass-blowing, nail-making, coopering, tin-roofing, shingle-dressing... (A Song for Occupations), preaches joy and optimism and encourages curiousity (Song of the Open Road) and doesn't follow the usual 'academic' rules of poetry. It's useless to be vulgar just to shock people. Except maybe in places like the army where this is appropriately used in the systematic taming of soldiers. But I think Rockson uses the course devices he's so good with to 'shock', and then, to 'tell'. And to tell his story with a rarely seen passion around these places. What Singapore needs is authenticity, and he provides plenty. I'm looking forward to Ephraim's next letter to the newspaper. ;p Perthling virgin undergrad has more (via Further reading: America's Poet: Walt Whitman, National Geographic, December 1994.

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