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The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis

More than a century-and-a-half ago, in 1855, Walt Whitman published his now-classic poem, “I Sing the Body Electric,” one of the 12 poems in the first edition of Leaves of Grass.

Among the poem’s opening lines are:

The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself balks account,
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.

Whitman wrote these word at a moment in U.S. history when technology was still a magical marvel, when the mighty iron horse — the steam railroad — proclaimed the future and the new communications medium of the telegraphy was being introduced.  The world was changing, the nation industrializing.  Innovation marked humanities triumph over nature, a foretaste of what was to come.  America was younger then, it’s so much older now.

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