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TSE  March 2001

TSE March 2001

Subject:

Re: The Uranian confusion

From:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Sat, 3 Mar 2001 19:12:33 EST

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Ken,

Here's my present thinking.

After studying lots and lots of poems that begin by invoking the muses, it 
seems to me that what Pound is mocking, first of all, is the habit that poets 
once had of prominently asking the muses to assist them in writing the poem. 
Eliot hasn't included an invocation to the muses in TWL, as he probably 
thought of it as rather old fashioned, even anachronistic. But Pound is 
essentially ignoring that and pointing to the tradition.

I see Pound asking, in effect, "What the hell kind of a muse could have 
inspired TWL (as we all know--grin grin--that every poet has a muse)?"  And 
Pound is answering the question himself:  he says it must have been the 
Uranian muse, who's technically the muse of astronomy but by extension also 
the muse of high or heavenly things. 

This much is clear from the text--that Pound is horsing around about the idea 
that there has to be a muse connected with every poem--the muse who inspired 
the poet to write the poem.

Now we have to deal with two subtexts or possible subtexts.

1)  Did Pound know that the Uranian muse was Dante's muse--that Dante invokes 
the Uranian muse in the Commedia?  My guess is probably. Pound, at this time, 
seems to know the Commedia better than Eliot does. I'm concluding this 
because some of the things Eliot says in his book on Dante seem to be 
rehashes of things Pound said much earlier in his own essay on Dante.  

So, yes, I think it's possible that Pound also meant to compliment his 
"Dantescan"  friend by telling him that the muse for TWL must have been 
Dante's muse.

Eliot's thought of using the ditty, then, might have had at least two levels. 
On the one hand, he's going along with the horseplay, in effect saying, "OK, 
if every poem has to have a least a few lines about the muses, I'll take what 
you wrote about the Uranian muse and stick it in." Also, it would have been 
immensely flattering to Eliot if he believed Pound was hailing him as a new 
Dante, another devotee of the Uranian muse. True, Pound was kidding around. 
But there's still a bit of a complimentary edge. Nobody wants to go around 
saying, "I'm the new Dante." But if somebody else wants to hail one as a 
Dante, that's just fine.

So why, finally, didn't Eliot include Pound's ditty as a part of TWL? Maybe 
he had second thoughts on the word "Uranian," which could be taken in more 
than one way. He didn't want to start up, or encourage, stories about his 
being homosexual.  Or maybe Eliot just didn't want to irk people by having 
Pound compare him publically with Dante.  It's a great sop to one's vanity, 
but not worth the risk of having people ridicule the comparison.

2) Now the second subtext or possible subtext. Is Pound kidding Eliot for 
being gay, or because he rightly or wrong believes Eliot to be gay?  Sure 
this could be a subtext, alone or with other subtexts. But the issue has been 
pretty confused at the moment by the heavy-breathing, agitated way in which 
it's been written up. So maybe it's time for closer study of the various 
authors who argue in that direction, to try to sort out the facts from the 
fictions.  

The last book from which Rick quoted, for example, seems to be going a bit 
overboard to portray Eliot as an explosive, stereotype closet queen, hissing 
with malice and real tetchy about anything he thought might possibly out him. 
When Jean Verdenal was mentioned, Eliot supposedly went "white with rage," 
had "cold fury," etc.  So far as I know, these emotional tizzies never 
happened, in the sense that there isn't any independent corroboration. In any 
case, why would Eliot's London friends be mentioning Jean Verdenal, a person 
they didn't know and whose name they apparently didn't know? 

For the sake of argument, let's go along with this "Eliot is a closet queen" 
stuff: he's a loose cannon who's going to fly into a hysterical rage if 
there's any mention of anything that might tie him, even remotely, to 
homosexuality. So how come he lets Pound subject him to some pretty rough 
kidding about Uranian muses if, as is claimed, Pound was actually kidding him 
about being homosexual? And how come in the Bolo-Columbo verses there's some 
pretty funny stuff--no offense intended to those who might be offended--about 
pederasty with the cabin boy?

I'm not wild about argumentation that goes, "he denied it and therefore it 
must be true."  But, as above, I'm still not sure what I think in this area. 
Certainly there's a sense in which all characters in his poems are aspects of 
Eliot himself--otherwise he wouldn't have been able to imagine them. But for 
me it's Prufrock and Sweeney who stand out as the two sides of human nature, 
or the two main personas of Eliot, both reworked in so many ways. To me, the 
conflict that's coming through in the poems is a hell of a lot deeper than 
"should a gay man come out of the closet or should a gay man not come out of 
the closet?"  And I think one misses too much by boiling it down to that, if 
it's actually that in any sense. 

pat
==============================================



In a message dated 3/3/01 11:04:23 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
[log in to unmask] writes:


> Just trying to follow the he said/she said, I wonder if one confusion is
> nestled in this exchange between Rickard and Pat:
> 
> The first is Pat quoted by Rickard, followed by the latter's response:
> 
> <<> I doubt that the Italian "pensar" is used or was used in any kind of
> > way for physical conception.
> 
> I think that Eliot checked the Italian and would not have seen any pun
> in it.  If you want to argue that his puns depended on one having a
> specific translation of Dante, that is a different matter.>>
> 
> 
> Pat says, in effect, that "pensar" is NOT used to mean physical
> conception, but Rickard seems to read it as if she DOES suggest it can be
> punned into physical conception.
> 
> Ken A
> -- 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 



--part1_a8.11e35663.27d2e271_boundary
Content-Type: text/html; charset="US-ASCII"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

<HTML><FONT FACE=arial,helvetica><FONT  SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial Narrow" LANG="0"><B>Ken,
<BR>
<BR>Here's my present thinking.
<BR>
<BR>After studying lots and lots of poems that begin by invoking the muses, it 
<BR>seems to me that what Pound is mocking, first of all, is the habit that poets 
<BR>once had of prominently asking the muses to assist them in writing the poem. 
<BR>Eliot hasn't included an invocation to the muses in TWL, as he probably 
<BR>thought of it as rather old fashioned, even anachronistic. But Pound is 
<BR>essentially ignoring that and pointing to the tradition.
<BR>
<BR>I see Pound asking, in effect, "What the hell kind of a muse could have 
<BR>inspired TWL (as we all know--grin grin--that every poet has a muse)?" &nbsp;And 
<BR>Pound is answering the question himself: &nbsp;he says it must have been the 
<BR>Uranian muse, who's technically the muse of astronomy but by extension also 
<BR>the muse of high or heavenly things. 
<BR>
<BR>This much is clear from the text--that Pound is horsing around about the idea 
<BR>that there has to be a muse connected with every poem--the muse who inspired 
<BR>the poet to write the poem.
<BR>
<BR>Now we have to deal with two subtexts or possible subtexts.
<BR>
<BR>1) &nbsp;Did Pound know that the Uranian muse was Dante's muse--that Dante invokes 
<BR>the Uranian muse in the Commedia? &nbsp;My guess is probably. Pound, at this time, 
<BR>seems to know the Commedia better than Eliot does. I'm concluding this 
<BR>because some of the things Eliot says in his book on Dante seem to be 
<BR>rehashes of things Pound said much earlier in his own essay on Dante. &nbsp;
<BR>
<BR>So, yes, I think it's possible that Pound also meant to compliment his 
<BR>"Dantescan" &nbsp;friend by telling him that the muse for TWL must have been 
<BR>Dante's muse.
<BR>
<BR>Eliot's thought of using the ditty, then, might have had at least two levels. 
<BR>On the one hand, he's going along with the horseplay, in effect saying, "OK, 
<BR>if every poem has to have a least a few lines about the muses, I'll take what 
<BR>you wrote about the Uranian muse and stick it in." Also, it would have been 
<BR>immensely flattering to Eliot if he believed Pound was hailing him as a new 
<BR>Dante, another devotee of the Uranian muse. True, Pound was kidding around. 
<BR>But there's still a bit of a complimentary edge. Nobody wants to go around 
<BR>saying, "I'm the new Dante." But if somebody else wants to hail one as a 
<BR>Dante, that's just fine.
<BR>
<BR>So why, finally, didn't Eliot include Pound's ditty as a part of TWL? Maybe 
<BR>he had second thoughts on the word "Uranian," which could be taken in more 
<BR>than one way. He didn't want to start up, or encourage, stories about his 
<BR>being homosexual. &nbsp;Or maybe Eliot just didn't want to irk people by having 
<BR>Pound compare him publically with Dante. &nbsp;It's a great sop to one's vanity, 
<BR>but not worth the risk of having people ridicule the comparison.
<BR>
<BR>2) Now the second subtext or possible subtext. Is Pound kidding Eliot for 
<BR>being gay, or because he rightly or wrong believes Eliot to be gay? &nbsp;Sure 
<BR>this could be a subtext, alone or with other subtexts. But the issue has been 
<BR>pretty confused at the moment by the heavy-breathing, agitated way in which 
<BR>it's been written up. So maybe it's time for closer study of the various 
<BR>authors who argue in that direction, to try to sort out the facts from the 
<BR>fictions. &nbsp;
<BR>
<BR>The last book from which Rick quoted, for example, seems to be going a bit 
<BR>overboard to portray Eliot as an explosive, stereotype closet queen, hissing 
<BR>with malice and real tetchy about anything he thought might possibly out him. 
<BR>When Jean Verdenal was mentioned, Eliot supposedly went "white with rage," 
<BR>had "cold fury," etc. &nbsp;So far as I know, these emotional tizzies never 
<BR>happened, in the sense that there isn't any independent corroboration. In any 
<BR>case, why would Eliot's London friends be mentioning Jean Verdenal, a person 
<BR>they didn't know and whose name they apparently didn't know? 
<BR>
<BR>For the sake of argument, let's go along with this "Eliot is a closet queen" 
<BR>stuff: he's a loose cannon who's going to fly into a hysterical rage if 
<BR>there's any mention of anything that might tie him, even remotely, to 
<BR>homosexuality. So how come he lets Pound subject him to some pretty rough 
<BR>kidding about Uranian muses if, as is claimed, Pound was actually kidding him 
<BR>about being homosexual? And how come in the Bolo-Columbo verses there's some 
<BR>pretty funny stuff--no offense intended to those who might be offended--about 
<BR>pederasty with the cabin boy?
<BR>
<BR>I'm not wild about argumentation that goes, "he denied it and therefore it 
<BR>must be true." &nbsp;But, as above, I'm still not sure what I think in this area. 
<BR>Certainly there's a sense in which all characters in his poems are aspects of 
<BR>Eliot himself--otherwise he wouldn't have been able to imagine them. But for 
<BR>me it's Prufrock and Sweeney who stand out as the two sides of human nature, 
<BR>or the two main personas of Eliot, both reworked in so many ways. To me, the 
<BR>conflict that's coming through in the poems is a hell of a lot deeper than 
<BR>"should a gay man come out of the closet or should a gay man not come out of 
<BR>the closet?" &nbsp;And I think one misses too much by boiling it down to that, if 
<BR>it's actually that in any sense. 
<BR>
<BR>pat
<BR>==============================================
<BR>
<BR>
<BR>
<BR>In a message dated 3/3/01 11:04:23 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
<BR>[log in to unmask] writes:
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0"></B>
<BR><BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=CITE style="BORDER-LEFT: #0000ff 2px solid; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px">Just trying to follow the he said/she said, I wonder if one confusion is
<BR>nestled in this exchange between Rickard and Pat:
<BR>
<BR>The first is Pat quoted by Rickard, followed by the latter's response:
<BR>
<BR>&lt;&lt;&gt; I doubt that the Italian "pensar" is used or was used in any kind of
<BR>&gt; way for physical conception.
<BR>
<BR>I think that Eliot checked the Italian and would not have seen any pun
<BR>in it. &nbsp;If you want to argue that his puns depended on one having a
<BR>specific translation of Dante, that is a different matter.&gt;&gt;
<BR>
<BR>
<BR>Pat says, in effect, that "pensar" is NOT used to mean physical
<BR>conception, but Rickard seems to read it as if she DOES suggest it can be
<BR>punned into physical conception.
<BR>
<BR>Ken A
<BR>-- 
<BR>
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#0f0f0f" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0">
<BR>
<BR></BLOCKQUOTE>
<BR></FONT></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial Narrow" LANG="0"><B>
<BR></B></FONT></HTML>

--part1_a8.11e35663.27d2e271_boundary--

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