Readers of ‘Song of Myself’ are neither better nor worse fools than other people, but what they enjoy in the poem is the experience of imagining what it would be to believe something that seems worth believing. What Whitman believed as an editor, a propagandist, a post-Emersonian chauvinist is not, in my view, worth believing. It is mostly a pestilence. But the experience of ‘going along’ with him, notionally and provisionally, in reaching that belief and voicing it is eminently worth having. Fortunately, I am not obliged to join his army.