I'll go back to my description of Charlie as a character out of Melville: willful, sometimes to the point of self-destruction, yet always fascinating to those who encounter them.Charlie prefers to think of himself as more like Whitman. This I find fascinating because, although many critics view Melville and Whitman as opposites in the development of American literature, both do focus on the willful individualist (Whitman's character being himself, or an imagined version of himself that he may never have imagined himself to be). Whitman's individualism is primarily optimitic, the self-reliance and energy for building a new nation. Melville's individualists are inevitably self-destructive, sometimes, like Ahab, destroying all.Charlie is tremendously creative and thought provoking. But being a willful individualist, he is not good at community.He has left before. Maybe he will return,again.I hope he doesn't destroy himself financially, with his will to beat the system. He has said he has enough money that under normal circumstances he could afford just to put it under a mattress, but he insists on aggressively pursuing the junk market. He is convinced that the financial sky will be falling and that only those who can live by their wits in a dog eat dog world (at age 90) will survive. I share his concerns, if not to the same degree, about the economic future of this country, but being more akin to Melville's narrators (call me Ishmael, the survivor), I'm into life rafts, even if they are someone else's coffin.
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