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TSE  May 2010

TSE May 2010

Subject:

Re: Mr. Eugenides

From:

Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Tue, 25 May 2010 18:07:57 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (156 lines)

I think we need to sort out terms here.

The antonym of civilised is not savage, but tribal.
Civilisations tend to be literate. Tribes tend to be auditory.
Cf Eric Havelock's Preface to Plato.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_A._Havelock#Preface_to_Plato

Both can be, but are not necessarily savage or civil.
The Iroquois were very savage. The Hurons were very civil.
Even highly developed civilsations and tribes can be savage
(cf Nazis and Mayans).

Civilsations, having evolved from tribal societies tend to have
remnant values of tribal socities which can create conflict.
Kurtz was attempting to revert to type, which was an impossible thing to do.
As a product of civilsation he was too self-aware of his individuality,
a characteristic not common in tribes.

Pre-Platonic culture in Greece, ie the Hellenes were tribal
The Iliad and Odessey are tribal productions of an aural culture.
Their word for a person who dissociated from the group to become
an individual was 'idiotae'. Socrates was one such.

P.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "DIana Manister" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 11:18 AM
Subject: Re: Mr. Eugenides


> Not necessarily Peter,
>
> A civilized person could morph into a sociopathic killer. Jack the
> Ripper or any number of decivilized monsters who are not savages.
>
> So-called Savages have their own moral codes and taboos, often very
> strictly observed.
>
> Diana
>
> Sent from my iPod
>
> On May 25, 2010, at 7:28 AM, Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
>
> > To be de-civilised is not to be uncivilised.
> > To be de-civilised is not to be a savage.
> > It is to have no identity at all. A hollow man.
> > P.
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Carrol Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
> > To: <[log in to unmask]>
> > Sent: Monday, May 24, 2010 6:22 AM
> > Subject: Re: Mr. Eugenides
> >
> >
> >> Peter Montgomery wrote:
> >>>
> >>> Eliot was a big fan of THE HEART OF DARKNESS.
> >>>
> >>> Is Kurtz de-civilised?
> >>
> >> No! To be civilized is to be aware of oneself as related to The City.
> >> Kurtz's life would be unintelligible within a paleolithic or even
> >> neolithic culture. And while K's attitude towards the "natives"
> >> invokes
> >> the Eurocentric use of "savage," his attitude towareds hmself, let
> >> alone
> >> the attitude of (a) the fictional narrator and (b) the story as a
> >> whole
> >> is biguous. Tos label Kurtz as "uncivilzied" is to justify Europe:
> >> It is
> >> not Europe that is committing genocide n the Congo but those
> >> savages who
> >> have infected Kurtz with their savagery which then has rebounded on
> >> them.
> >>
> >> Now it may be that Eliot (the man) or Eliot (the poet of TWL) himself
> >> thought in these terms, of Kurtz or the woman in the narrow canoe as
> >> "decivilzied." Assuming that would add quite an interesting edge to
> >> the
> >> poem but it would make Eliot the man worthy of the greatest contempt.
> >> (Ditto re Conrad.)
> >>
> >> "The horror. The Horror" Kurtz muttrs -- and perhaps that horror is
> >> analyzed in the history of such words as "pagan," "civilization,"
> >> "savage," "urbane," and other terms in which is embodied the
> >> valorization of The City (- Europe in the 196h c.) and "The
> >> Country" (=
> >> the rest of the world in the 19th-c). (My expositon here is jumbled
> >> since I'm explorginga what for me is new angle from which to look
> >> at the
> >> consciousness arising from the savage (!) rampage of Europe across
> >> the
> >> world in the last 3 centuriesd. It is too bad Empson did not
> >> include a
> >> chapter on "savage" in his _Structure of *Complex Words_, for quite a
> >> bit of (terrifying) history is packed into the 'equations' as Empson
> >> called them which structure this term.
> >>
> >> Carrying this (even in its rough state here) back to TWL, we may
> >> see a
> >> sort of (unintended) savage (!) irony in that phrase which ends the
> >> poem.
> >>
> >> I'll stop here for now.
> >>
> >> Carrol
> >>
> >>
> >>>
> >>> Mr. Civilisation, he dead!
> >>>
> >>> P.
> >>> ----- Original Message -----
> >>> From: "Carrol Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
> >>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> >>> Sent: Sunday, May 23, 2010 7:19 AM
> >>> Subject: Re: Mr. Eugenides
> >>>
> >>>> Diana Manister wrote:
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Peter,
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Yes dehumanized. De-civilized too, if you will,
> >>>>
> >>>> "decivilized" (which is also not Eliot's word) is an even more
> >>>> inappropriate metaphor than dehumanized. The behavior of the
> >>>> clerk is
> >>>> only possible within civilization! For one thing, even in a
> >>>> pre-capitalist class societies she would not have been living
> >>>> alone or
> >>>> preparing her own meal. Those tins involved international commerce.
> >>>> Moreover, the entire episode presupposes the atomized social
> >>>> relations
> >>>> which appeared embryonically in the 175th-c (and Milton with
> >>>> amazing
> >>>> prescience grasped) and only fully (and only in England & the
> >>>> U.S.) in
> >>>> the 19th-c. They were only beginning to develop in France & Germany
> > (and
> >>>> this enters into the causes of WW1).
> >>>>
> >>>> So whatever the young man and woman are or are not, they are highly
> >>>> civilized -- and surely Eliot had enough of an historical sense and
> > was
> >>>> precise enough in his language (even the silent language of thought
> > and
> >>>> intention) that he would never have seen these characters as
> >>>> de-ciivilized. These vague, sloppy categories introduced by readers
> >>>> rather than the poem trivialize the whole poem.
> >>>>
> >>>> Carrolk
> >

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