he wants to stand for everyone, because he wants to be less a historical person than a marker for democratic personhood

“Whitman, because he wants to stand for everyone, because he wants to be less a historical person than a marker for democratic personhood, can’t really write a memoir full of a life’s particularities. If he were to reveal the specific genesis and texture of his personality, if he presented a picture of irreducible individuality, he would lose his ability to be “Walt Whitman, a cosmos” — his “I” would belong to an empirical person rather than constituting a pronoun in which the readers of the future could participate.”

Ben Lerner – 10:04.