Abstract

Six months after the famous Six Gallery poetry reading in 1955, Philip Whalen began working on “The Slop Barrel,” a poem that is an interior examination of Mahāyāna Buddhist notions of impermanence, interdependence, and awakening. Giles argues that “The Slop Barrel” is an exploration of the Five Skandhas, or five aggregates of attachment, which collectively make up one’s personality. The poet-narrator comes to recognize, as he moves from being trapped in the world of objects and concepts to reaching the other shore of liberation, that suffering lies not in the aggregates themselves, but in his lack of understanding of emptiness.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 405-420
Launched on MUSE
2013-10-20
Open Access
No
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