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TSE  January 2002

TSE January 2002

Subject:

RE: East Coker

From:

"Earls, JP" <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 5 Jan 2002 10:13:07 -0600

Content-Type:

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Parts/Attachments

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This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

------_=_NextPart_001_01C19603.DCB261D8
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Dear Jo=E3o,
Thank you for breaking the silence with an interesting question.
Speaking of the relation between section IIa and IIb in "East Coker,"
you ask, "Is the second a direct continuation of the first? Are we being
invited to imagine the "periphrastic study" as (let us say) a poetic
portrayal of old age?" Yes, I think your intuition is on the mark. The
reversal of seasons here--manifestations of spring as the year moves
into winter--is a way of speaking of the tendency of "old men" to try to
hold on to the deceptive dreams of youth, to continue hoping that
fulfilling desires will bring ultimate satisfaction. In the overall
sweep of FQ, it is this failure to move beyond personal desire and thus
escape the inevitable consequent disappointments which will eventually
distill into bitterness. In other words, they (the old men) haven't
learned the lessons of living without hope of accomplishing or achieving
anything *in* time/space/history. Section II of "Burnt Norton" had
begun these lessons with its comparison of the
desire-satisfaction-disappointment-new desire cycle to riding around the
London underground through a flickering experience of going from
darkness to light back to darkness repeated over and over endlessly with
no goal achieved. The "false sestina" section [IIa] of "The Dry
Salvages" allows the reader to *feel* the pointlessness of this quest.
Notice also that it is section II of "Little Gidding," with the
monologue of the "familiar compound ghost" on the vanity of all human
accomplishment, even the most loftily conceived, that will continue if
not entirely conclude the lessons. (Nothing is entirely concluded in
FQ!) =20
=20
At the same time there recurs the complementary theme that if ultimate
satisfaction cannot be had in time/space/history, it can be had
*through* time/space/history. Section III of EC is eloquent in pointing
the way out of the "desire trap."=20
=20
FQ is remarkable in that no individual passage will yield its meaning
without reference to parallel and antithetical passages throughout the
work, to recurring juxtapositions and leaps of thought. In this way,
the medium is the message: no one can understand his/her life without
reference to parallel and antithetical moments in the past and future.
The future, of course, is contained in the past, and begins to reveal
itself as we make selfless decisions in the present.
=20
Best wishes for the New Year.
JP
=20
J. P. Earls, OSB
St. John's University
Collegeville, MN 56321
=20
 -----Original Message-----=20
From: Jo=E3o Verg=EDlio Gallerani Cuter =
[mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Saturday, January 05, 2002 2:32 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: East Coker



In the second paragraph of East Coker II we find what seems to be a
fragment of criticism, as if we were reading a torn newspaper:

That was a way of putting it - not very satisfactory:
A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion,
Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle
With words and meanings. The poetry does not matter.
It was not (to start again) what one had expected.

And then, all of a sudden, Eliot begins to talk about the deceiving
"wisdom of age". I have some difficulty in seeing the exact relationship
between these two blocks. Is the second a direct continuation of the
first? Are we being invited to imagine the "periphrastic study" as (let
us say) a poetic portrayal of old age? My feeling is that this is not
the right track. We would have to take the "continuation" as a kind of
excursus, and it doesn't sound like that. (Try to read it with a "by the
way" prefixed: "By the way, what was to be the value of...etc.". It
doesn't fit.) But if it is not an excursus, what the hell is the first
part doing there? What is the meaning of the juxtaposition?
=20
Jo=E3o

=20


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<HTML><HEAD>
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<BODY>
<DIV><SPAN class=3D888124614-05012002><FONT face=3DArial><FONT =
size=3D2><FONT=20
color=3D#400040>Dear Jo<FONT=20
face=3DTahoma>=E3o,</FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></SPAN></DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3D888124614-05012002><FONT face=3DArial><FONT =
color=3D#400040=20
size=3D2>Thank you for breaking the silence with an interesting =
question.&nbsp;=20
Speaking of the relation between section IIa and IIb in "East Coker," =
you ask,=20
"Is the second a direct continuation of the first? Are we being invited =
to=20
imagine the "periphrastic study" as (let us say) a poetic portrayal of =
old=20
age?"&nbsp; Yes, I think your intuition is&nbsp;on the mark.&nbsp; The =
reversal=20
of seasons here--manifestations of spring as the year moves into =
winter--is a=20
way of speaking of the tendency of "old men" to try to hold on to=20
the&nbsp;deceptive dreams of youth, to continue hoping that fulfilling =
desires=20
will bring ultimate satisfaction.&nbsp; In the overall sweep of FQ, it =
is this=20
failure to&nbsp;move beyond&nbsp;personal desire and thus escape the =
inevitable=20
consequent disappointments which will eventually distill into =
bitterness.&nbsp;=20
In other words, they (the old men) haven't learned the lessons of living =
without=20
hope of accomplishing or achieving&nbsp;=20
anything&nbsp;*in*&nbsp;time/space/history.&nbsp; Section II of "Burnt =
Norton"=20
had begun these lessons with its comparison of the=20
desire-satisfaction-disappointment-new desire cycle to riding around the =
London=20
underground through a flickering experience of going from darkness to =
light back=20
to darkness repeated over and over endlessly with no goal =
achieved.&nbsp;=20
The&nbsp; "false sestina" section [IIa]&nbsp;of "The Dry Salvages" =
allows the=20
reader to *feel* the pointlessness of this quest.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; =
Notice also=20
that it is&nbsp;section II of "Little Gidding," with the monologue of =
the=20
"familiar compound ghost" on the vanity of all human accomplishment, =
even the=20
most loftily conceived, that will continue if not entirely conclude the=20
lessons.&nbsp; (Nothing is entirely concluded in FQ!)&nbsp;=20
</FONT></FONT></SPAN></DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3D888124614-05012002><STRONG><FONT face=3DArial =
color=3D#0000ff=20
size=3D2></FONT></STRONG></SPAN>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3D888124614-05012002></SPAN><SPAN =
class=3D888124614-05012002><FONT=20
face=3DArial size=3D2>At the same time there =
recurs&nbsp;the&nbsp;complementary=20
theme that if ultimate satisfaction cannot be had in time/space/history, =
it can=20
be had *through* time/space/history.&nbsp; Section III of EC&nbsp;is =
eloquent in=20
pointing the way out of the "desire trap."&nbsp;</FONT></SPAN></DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3D888124614-05012002><FONT face=3DArial=20
size=3D2></FONT></SPAN>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3D888124614-05012002><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>FQ is =
remarkable in=20
that no individual passage will yield its meaning without reference to =
parallel=20
and antithetical passages throughout the work, to recurring =
juxtapositions and=20
leaps of thought.&nbsp; In this way, the medium is the message: no one =
can=20
understand his/her life without reference to parallel and antithetical =
moments=20
in the past and future.&nbsp; The future, of course, is contained in the =
past,=20
and begins to reveal itself as we make selfless decisions in the=20
present.</FONT></SPAN></DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3D888124614-05012002><FONT face=3DArial=20
size=3D2></FONT></SPAN>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3D888124614-05012002><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>Best =
wishes for the=20
New Year.</FONT></SPAN></DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3D888124614-05012002></SPAN><FONT face=3DArial><FONT =
size=3D2>J<SPAN=20
class=3D888124614-05012002>P</SPAN></FONT></FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial><FONT size=3D2><SPAN=20
class=3D888124614-05012002></SPAN></FONT></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial><FONT size=3D2><SPAN=20
class=3D888124614-05012002></SPAN></FONT></FONT><SPAN=20
class=3D888124614-05012002><FONT face=3DArial color=3D#000000 =
size=3D2>J. P. Earls,=20
OSB</FONT></DIV>
<DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial color=3D#000000 size=3D2>St. John's =
University</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial color=3D#000000 size=3D2>Collegeville, MN=20
56321</FONT></DIV></SPAN></DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3D888124614-05012002><FONT face=3DArial color=3D#0000ff =
size=3D2><FONT=20
color=3D#000080></FONT></FONT></SPAN>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3D888124614-05012002>&nbsp;</SPAN><FONT face=3DTahoma=20
size=3D2>-----Original Message-----<SPAN =
class=3D888124614-05012002><STRONG><FONT=20
face=3DArial =
color=3D#0000ff>&nbsp;</FONT></STRONG></SPAN><BR><B>From:</B> Jo=E3o=20
Verg=EDlio Gallerani Cuter =
[mailto:[log in to unmask]]<BR><B>Sent:</B>=20
Saturday, January 05, 2002 2:32 AM<BR><B>To:</B>=20
[log in to unmask]<BR><B>Subject:</B> East Coker<BR><BR></DIV></FONT>
<BLOCKQUOTE dir=3Dltr style=3D"MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px">
  <DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>In the second paragraph of East Coker =
II we find=20
  what seems to be a fragment of criticism, as if we were reading a torn =

  newspaper:</FONT></DIV>
  <BLOCKQUOTE dir=3Dltr style=3D"MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px">
    <DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>That was a way of putting it - not =
very=20
    satisfactory:</FONT></DIV>
    <DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>A periphrastic study in a worn-out =
poetical=20
    fashion,</FONT></DIV>
    <DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>Leaving one still with the =
intolerable=20
    wrestle</FONT></DIV>
    <DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>With words and meanings. The poetry =
does not=20
    matter.</FONT></DIV>
    <DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>It was not (to start again) what =
one had=20
    expected.</FONT></DIV></BLOCKQUOTE>
  <DIV dir=3Dltr><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>And then, all of a sudden, =
Eliot begins=20
  to talk about the deceiving "wisdom of age". I have some difficulty in =
seeing=20
  the exact relationship between these two blocks. Is the second a =
direct=20
  continuation of the first? Are we being invited to imagine the =
"periphrastic=20
  study" as (let us say) a poetic portrayal of old age? My feeling is =
that this=20
  is not the right track. We would have to take the "continuation" as a =
kind=20
  of&nbsp;excursus, and it doesn't&nbsp;sound like that. (Try to read it =
with a=20
  "by the way" prefixed: "<EM>By the way</EM>, what was to be the value=20
  of...etc.". It doesn't fit.) But if it is not an excursus, what the =
hell is=20
  the first part doing there? What is the meaning of the=20
  juxtaposition?</FONT></DIV>
  <DIV dir=3Dltr><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV>
  <DIV dir=3Dltr><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>Jo=E3o</FONT></DIV>
  <BLOCKQUOTE dir=3Dltr style=3D"MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px">
    <DIV><FONT face=3DArial=20
size=3D2></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV></BLOCKQUOTE></BLOCKQUOTE></BODY></HTML>

------_=_NextPart_001_01C19603.DCB261D8--

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