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TSE  May 2001

TSE May 2001

Subject:

Re: memory in TWL

From:

james loucks <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 21 May 2001 14:24:02 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (225 lines)

Hello listers --

TSE was taken by Buddhism in his latter Harvard years, and once told 
Stephen Spender that at the time of writing TWL he was thinking of becoming 
a Buddhist. (Ackroyd 37; from SS, in Tate coll).

Here are other ref's to Buddhism:

1926.  Nov.  TSE's decision to convert. "The decision had apparently been 
made in November of the previous year [1926], and Eliot had been attending 
communion service for some months before then. . . .it has even been 
suggested that he was tempted by Roman Catholicism while at Harvard, as 
well as by Buddhism at the time of The Waste Land. In the event, it was the 
Anglican communion which claimed him, and in particular its Anglo-Catholic 
branch, which sought for eventual reunification between the Churches of 
Rome and England." (Sharpe 115)

1932.  In an address to Unitarian clergy in Boston, TSE "recalls his 
religious background, saying that from Unitarianism he lapsed into 
agnosticism, and out of  agnosticism, after inclining towards Buddhism 
around 1922, to the Catholic idea which he preferred in its Anglican form." 
(Behr 44; Matthews, Great Tom 113).

Note the absence of Buddhism in the following, however, from the same period:

1932.  6 Dec.  BL4.  TSE to Sister Mary James Power, S.S.N.D.  [collection 
of Boston Athenaeum]

"Dear Sister:

In reply to your letter of December 1st, perhaps the simplest account that 
I can give is to say that I was brought up as a Unitarian of the New 
England variety; that for many years I was without any definite religious 
faith, or without any at all; that in 1927 I was baptised and confirmed 
into the Church of England; and that I am associated with what is called 
the Catholic movement in that Church, as represented by Viscount Halifax 
and the English Church Union. I accordingly believe in the Creeds, the 
invocation of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, the Sacrament of Penance, 
etc."  (Power [126]; Ellis np).

1951.  early autumn?  TSE took L. Durrell to lunch at the Garrick. LD 
wanted to probe TSE in the matter of his Buddhist references in TWL and 
elsewhere: "I was aware that this Catholicism thing was really so shallow 
in his case, and all his epigraphs to his poems are Epictetus, Greeks, 
Buddhists of one sort or another. It seemed silly to be in the same posture 
as Graham Greene because he wasn't, intellectually and psychically. . . . I 
asked him point-blank once -- when you are young you are tactless." After 
LD cited TSE's references to the Greeks and Buddhism, TSE replied: 
"Oh,  yes, I do it just to get near to people." LD asked if he could 
publish that remark and TSE replied: "Certainly not!" LD linked TSE's 
Anglicanism to Rome: "How can an intelligent man be a Christian, much less 
a Catholic?" With all of TSE's non-Christian references, "I can't think how 
they let you into the Church." Replied TSE: "Perhaps they haven't found 
about about me yet." (MacNiven, LD Bio 377).  See 1952.

I believe one critic (at least) has taken issue with the Spender account, 
because only Spender seems to have heard it.

Jim

At 01:39 PM 5/21/2001 -0400, you wrote:
>Dear Richard,
>
>I don't now remember the source exactly, but Eliot said himself that at the
>time of writing TWL he had considered being a Buddhist.  But that with his
>heritage and culture it was Christianity that worked.  I'm paraphrasing, but
>you are saying what he did claim himself in a somewhat different way.
>Nancy
>
>
>
>Date sent:              Mon, 21 May 2001 11:14:35 -0600
>Send reply to:          [log in to unmask]
>From:                   "Richard Seddon" <[log in to unmask]>
>To:                     <[log in to unmask]>
>Subject:                Re: memory in TWL
>
>J.P.
>
>I am very interested in your thinking concerning TSE as a Buddhist
>Christian and would like to see you share more of your thinking.   I've
>wondered in an undeveloped fashion along the same lines.
>
>Is there any synergism with Tom's ideas of "Ash Wednesday" and TSE
>adopting Christianity as an act of faith not belief.  Faith in an
>unstructured way but faith in the sense (I hope I'm not misinterpreting
>Tom) that committment to a religion (any religion) would lead to spiritual
>enlightenment.  I often thought that perhaps TSE wearied of waiting for a
>thunderbolt of revelation and said to himself "Okay,  I am just going to
>start believing and see where that takes  me".   Belief as a conscious
>positive singular act in the face of and at right angles to prior
>unbelief.
>
>Christianity then made sense because it was solidly within TSE's
>heritage/tradition as an  American/European.  Your statement would posit,
>to my thinking, that TSE was actually Buddhist in philosophy/theology
>wearing the trappings of a Christian because those trappings, like old
>clothes,  fit better.
>
>I do not understand your tie with Bradley.  I am only tangentially
>familiar with Bradley but thought he was most concerned with defining and
>exploring "experience" as that "experience" builds an individual's reality
>towards an ultimate "experience".   Perhaps reading Bradley is in order
>and your suggestions as a starting place would be welcome.
>
>Rick Seddon
>McIntosh, NM, USA
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Earls, JP <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
>Date: Sunday, May 20, 2001 8:30 AM
>Subject: RE: memory in TWL
>
>
> >Rickard--
> >
> >Thanks for the quotation from Hesse.  This fits in very neatly with my
>thesis
> >about the moral philosophy in FQ, which, I contend, is Bradley's as
>presented
> >chiefly in his _Ethical Studies_.   Bradley proposes a realization of the
>self
> >as the end of significant human action.  The self, of course, is not the
> >personality we have developed through time, but the Absolute, the
>realization of
> >which all significant human action is tending.  The indication that one
> >is moving toward this realization is that his/her intention is directed
> >toward
>an
> >ever expanding community.  Eliot expresses this in LG III, just after his
> >disquisition on the three types of nettles (the live nettle=desire, dead
> >nettle=detachment, in-between nettle=indifference).  This passage is of
>signal
> >importance: Eliot, the Buddhist Christian, must make room for Christian
>love in
> >the context of Buddhist non-attachment.  (See Gardner's _Composition of
> >FQ_
>for
> >the dead nettle.  It isn't dead.)  Eliot then illustrates how through
>memory one
> >can remember with love the ecstatic pursuits of the past now purified
> >from
>their
> >egoistic attachments by consequent suffering and fitted into a new
> >pattern
>of
> >broader significance.  Thus Eliot:
> >
> > This is the use of memory:
> >For liberation--not less of love but expanding
> >Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
> >>>From the future as well as the past.  Thus, love of a country
> >Begins as attachment to our own field of action
> >And comes to find that action of little importance
> >Though never indifferent.
> >
> >Where does the Hesse quotation come from?
> >
> >J. P. Earls, OSB
> >English Department]
> >St. John's University
> >Collegeville, MN 56321
> >[log in to unmask]
> >
> >
> >
> >-----Original Message-----
> >From: Rickard Parker [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> >Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2001 7:49 AM
> >To: [log in to unmask]
> >Subject: Re: memory in TWL
> >
> >gopika jadeja wrote:
> >
> >> Tiresias in TWL, foresees everything. Now, if he has
> >> foresight all that he sees and all thathappens are
> >> both in his memory. If he is, as Eliot says the
> >> central figure in the poem, then it is all about
> >> memory, isn't it? Collective memory at that, not of
> >> one civilization but of many, if we take into
> >> consideration his allusions from various traditions.
> >
> >Was it personal memory and personal desire or the collective version of
> >these?
> >
> >          April is the cruellest month, breeding
> >          Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
> >          Memory and desire, stirring
> >          Dull roots with spring rain.
> >
> >I say personal but Eliot threw in the collective to show his pain was
> >universal.
> >
> >Here are a few lines of Hesse that were just a few lines away from the
>lines
> >that Eliot noted in TWL:
> >
> >Rather the "invalid" of this sort transposes the events of his own soul
>into
> >general terms applicable to mankind. Everyone has visions, everyone has
> >imaginings, everyone has dreams. And every vision, every dream, every
> >thought and inspiration a person has, may, on the way from the
> >unconscious to consciousness, permit of a thousand different
> >interpretations, each one of which may be right. The seer and prophet
> >does not interpret his visions personally, the nightmare that presses
> >upon him does not speak to him of personal illness, of his own death, but
> >rather of the larger whole as whose organ, whose antenna, he lives. This
> >whole may be a family, a party, a nation, it can as well be all mankind.
> >
> >Regards,
> >   Rick Parker
> >
> >
> >

James F. Loucks, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English
Coordinator, Department of English
The Ohio State University at Newark
1179 University Drive
Newark, OH  43055-1797
740 366-9423
FAX 366-5047
e-mail: [log in to unmask]

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