I cannot stop thinking about it. I read “America” a few semesters ago and took it for what I thought it was: a big “Eff You, America!”, a lamentation, and then a moment of realization that spikes action where Ginsberg decides to do something. After all, that is what Ginsberg seems to do, he laments and then he does something about it. Although we never quite get to see what he does, we are allowed to see a few sentences of the beginning. He gathers up sunflower scepters, he gives sermons to the soul – to anyone who will listen, he evokes Whitman, he finds hope.
With this as evidence, I sort of just thought that’s what happens in “America”. Ginsberg laments and then he realizes he’s part of America too and he puts his “queer shoulder to the wheel”. He lends a helping hand, he springs into action – that’s what I thought until Charles blew my mind. For some reason I never considered that there could possible be another interpretation of the final line of “America”. And all of a sudden I realize there isn’t just Charles’ view and my view, there is a bunch of inbetweens!
Maybe Ginsberg is begging and pleading with America. Maybe Ginsberg was obsessed with America and refused to give up his obsession. Maybe Ginsberg was ostracized. Maybe Ginsberg was testing America. Maybe Ginsberg got the hell out of there. Maybe Ginsberg recovered… maybe he didn’t.
So is Ginsberg not the Ginsberg I had thought he was? Does he give up in “America”/on America? Does he lend a helping hand or does he become reclusive? Does Ginsberg actually NOT recover from this crisis? I need answers, people.