In the sense of a mystical "dark night of the soul" as defined in St.
John of the Cross and many mystics. (As contrasted, say, to Freudian
displacement by the superego or disintegration in psychosis.) I read
many mystical texts but not recently, so I am using the general sense of
the dissolution of the self to become nothing so that god can enter in.
This is not at all a sense of my own or one I affirm or desire but
clearly one that mystics experience and describe in similar terms.
I am fascinated with studies of and ideas about consciousness, and I do
not see any reason why a god who created it--presuming one--would do so
only for it to be dissolved. It would make for a pretty dull eternity I
should think. Fortunately for Eliot, his poetry really is not grounded
in it--he talks about it but does not claim to have it. Even in "Ash
Wednesday" the narrator (it has one) keeps talking about wanting to find
peace and stillness and keeps looking back with desire and nostalgia. I
think it interesting that Eliot was never really happy until he married
Valerie; it would seem that only sensual experience ever did provide his
garden. That it did not work with Viv was a mutual shredding on their
part, but it says nothing about sexuality or desire in itself; Eliot
seems to have confused them, having married in haste when a 26-year-old
I do hope this will not be used as an occasion to suggest I do not
understand this because understanding does not entail agreement--not
even emotional understanding.
>>> Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]> 07/31/07 10:10 PM >>>
At 08:23 PM 7/31/2007, Nancy Gish wrote:
>I agree that it is a death of ego. But I hasten to add that I do not
>myself have any desire for a dead ego in this sense,
"in this sense" is an interesting choice of words here, but what sense
you mean? An opened soul for God to enter?
>and I don't think
>Eliot ever experienced it or claimed to.
>I would question Lear--more like the dark night of sense than of
>spirit, since Lear is a very intensely present self, not an opened soul
>for god to enter.