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Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 | Author:

On our field trip to Washington DC, as we doggedly trekked back to the cars, Chelsea and I fell into conversation about Whitman’s letters. Of course, we were thrilled to have seen them and nearly touched them. The preciseness of Whitman’s handwriting and the possibility that one of the letters might have had his fingerprint was incredible. What was even more incredible about the letters, I think, was the fact that they were physical evidence of Whitman’s transcendence of time. Not only had his words and thoughts survived, but they were still able to touch a group of college students and turn them into weepy messes. Even something as simple as his revisions brought on tears, and then his letters…Oh, Walt. I know I’ve said this before, but the “I will get well yet” will always stick with me.

It got both Chelsea and I thinking: in the age of technology, with emails and AIM, what is our legacy going to be like? Emails and IMs are deleted within minutes and what with their ability to be instantaneous, I think we tend to make them a lot more impersonal. There’s just something lacking when you type in Times New Roman, size 12. Furthermore, where are they going to be saved? How are we going to pass some of these things on for people a hundred years ahead?

Granted, I think part of the reason we are able to take Whitman’s letters to heart today is because he knew he was going to be pretty special. Score one for egotism But I can’t help wonder what his legacy would¬† be like if Whitman was reduced to 140 characters (sorry, Jim Groom!). At any rate, the idea has made me get out my pens and write some letters via snail mail. I even sealed them with wax. So maybe I’m not going to be famous like Whitman, and future generations would probably care less what I wrote to my grandmother, but at least my children might one day get a glimpse of what I and my super trippy handwriting were¬† like (I’ve been told I have the cursive of a serial killer, seriously).

Okay. At the risk of this not having anything much to do with our field trip, I’m going to post several of the pictures of Whitman’s letters and handwritten notes. I dare you not to tear up a little (or at least the Whitmaniacs in Digital Whitman, anyway).

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Monday, October 19th, 2009 | Author:

Here are some (terribly belated) pictures of our trip to the Fredericksburg Battlefield and Chatham. I’m sorry it’s taken so long; Flickr hasn’t been uploading my pictures quite right.

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Hill on which the Confederates fought

Hill on which the Confederates fought

Part of the original wall

Part of the original wall

The Innis House, which still has bullet holes from the battle in its walls

The Innis House, which still has bullet holes from the battle in its walls

One of the bullet holes in the Innis House

One of the bullet holes in the Innis House

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Inside the Innis House, where several bullet holes are also visible

Inside the Innis House, where several bullet holes are also visible

The Union Cemetary, which is hidden away behind the battlefield (unlike the Confederate one, which is in the center of town). I'm a little ashamed to say that this was a recent discovery for me.

The Union Cemetary, which is hidden away behind the battlefield (unlike the Confederate one, which is in the center of town). I'm a little ashamed to say that this was a recent discovery for me.

Hill overlooking the Union Cemetary. It really is way back away from everything.

Hill overlooking the Union Cemetary. It really is way back away from everything.

Cannons just outside the Union Cemetary

Cannons just outside the Union Cemetary

Grave of an unknown soldier.

Grave of an unknown soldier.

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Chatham House, where the military hospital was. It's much changed since Whitman saw it.

Chatham House, where the military hospital was. It's much changed since Whitman saw it.

The gardens at Chatham. These were added in the 1920s, in an effort to bring back the estate to its colonial roots.

The gardens at Chatham. These were added in the 1920s, in an effort to bring back the estate to its colonial roots.

The garden was kind of a testament to just how much things have changed since the Civil War.

The garden was kind of a testament to just how much things have changed since the Civil War.

Graffiti on the walls in Chatham

Graffiti on the walls in Chatham

More graffiti

More graffiti

These are the same catalpa trees that Whitman observed the amputated limbs by in "Speciman Days." Definitely the best part of the trip, especially since our guide had prepared a specical Whitman reading by them for us.

These are the same Catalpa trees that Whitman observed the amputated limbs by in "Speciman Days." Definitely the best part of the trip, especially since our guide had prepared a specical Whitman reading by them for us. This was also one of the places where I felt the most connected to Whitman, especially since everything else is so changed.

All right. That’s all for now. I have a written post that I’m finishing up; I’m just tweaking it so that I say exactly what I want to say in it. It’ll be here before we go to DC. I cross my heart.

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