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TSE  September 2005

TSE September 2005

Subject:

Re: Maurice Bowra's mock-poem

From:

Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 22 Sep 2005 22:32:20 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (78 lines)

Nancy,

I was trying only to be accurate and to address Jacek at a level he might 
comprehend, judging from the level at which he posts. And I would never be 
snide to you, Nancy (how ever did you manage to insert yourself into this 
as if I'd in anyway addressed you?) because (ok, now I'll address you)it 
would have no effect. As usual, when Eliot is to be trampled upon, and in 
this case rather foolishly and mundanely, you are quick to defend the 
tramplers. It has long been, in its frequency, pitch, and content, 
predictable. Not too long ago, Jacek was howling about how you had to hold 
forth on every opinion opined on the list. Now he thinks you are so kind. 
See the dynamics here?

 Shall I point out that it makes no difference how many critics wish to 
complexify their view of Eliot and to encourage each other in this 
enterprise if they are, to be neutral, in error? Communal and fashionable 
error, if you like. Your analytic strategy of separating what Eliot knew 
from what he did, and, incredibly, casting aspersions on his spirituality, 
doesn't stand up to even a cursory examination. That you and however many 
of your fellow critics pursue that line is really more a reflection on you 
and them than on Eliot. It is belied utterly by the poetry, a truth those 
80's and 90's critics apparently have no purchase on.

 Your belief in progress, and group progress at that, is in a way 
admirable, but you don't seem to understand that no matter how many new 
"facts" are unearthed and are brandished by how ever many new (as in 
recent, current) critics, what makes the poetry poetry remains untouched. 
This is an absolute. This is an absolute, and someone who comprehended it 
in 1951 or 1936 or 1922 cannot be trumped by the latest "theory" and its 
numerous declaimers in the 80's, 90's or any other time, or by some letters 
finally published in 2021.

 One's complexified view, when it does not grasp this fundamental truth, is 
distracted from distraction by distraction, i.e. is more accurately 
described as compromised.

 As far as what I can imagine about you, it is that you probably won't 
accept any of this. And why should you? It's not what you see yourself 
invested in. But thank you for giving me the opportunity to express it.

Ken A.

--On Thursday, September 22, 2005 12:07 PM -0400 Nancy Gish 
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I am not sure it is just a "machine," but Jacek is not at all into
> baloney.  It is a fact (from reading nearly every book on him) that,
> unlike most writers, Eliot gets treated as a figure of moral or
> spiritual or cultural authority largely on the basis of his own
> assertion of morality, piety, and/or knowledge.  The knowledge is
> unquestionable; the morality and spirituality are extremely
> questionable, as witness the constant questions.  It is pointless to be
> snide to Jacek or to me, given the strong reaction against Eliot's
> claims in--especially--the 80s and 90s.  At this point (and Cassandra's
> and my book is part of this) a rethinking is in process that seeks a
> more complex understanding.  But it is not at all going back to  the
> hagiography Jacek notes on the basis of a great deal of writing.  It's
> just there.
> Nancyu
>
>>>> [log in to unmask] 09/22/05 10:37 AM >>>
> At 07:06 PM 9/21/2005, you wrote:
>> At least one can say in Bowra's favor that--together with John
> Sparrow,
>> F.R. Leavis, and recently departed David Daiches--he refused to be
> taken
>> in, and genuflect in front of, Eliot's PR machine,
>
>    What baloney, Jacek. Now, I admit  I still haven't pushed myself
> through
> all of the Eliot bio's, but I don't remember one single recounting of
> the
> "genuflection era." Taken in? Maybe they just weren't bright enough to
>
> understand what was in front of them.
>
>   Yrs.,
>   Ken A.

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