Great thoughts Rick. To these let us add Eliot's
not on Tiresias in The Fire Sermon, where he says that
what T. sees IS the substance of the poem. T. sees a mechanised
typist letting herself be messed over by a patronising macho
clerk. The event is a dead function, even though it involves
the roots of life giving. (Well now that's done and I'm glad
it's over. I have to pee, I have to shit and I have to screw.
just one of those things) That's what T. "sees", Eliot's word,
or forsuffers [T.'s word] on this same divan or bed. So here's
an hermaphrodite watching, experiencing, seeing a set of gonads
going at it, in the same old meaningless grind.
Is he blinded by this vision? Is he what allows it to happen?
Is he experiencing it as a fortune teller would in a crystal
ball? Does it connect with Paolo & Francesca?
Used to be, in mystical theology that marital consummation
was seen as symbolic of the union of the soul with the divine.
The heart of light. The silence.
So now what is this little bit of the old voyeuristic inoutinout
(as Alex would put it in ACO)?
Substance of the poem folks.
See God, and die.
See these folks screw, and cry?
Dr. Peter C. Montgomery
Dept. of English
3100 Foul Bay Rd.
Victoria, BC CANADA V8P 5J2
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From: Rickard A. Parker [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 5:00 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Greek myths and TWL (was Re: Fisher King)
First, thank you Greg for both your German and Callimachus (Hymn 5:
The Bath of Pallas) posts. I've found a few translations of the
Callimachus story on the web. The URLs are below.
I'm switching subjects from "Fisher King" since I'm heading away from
that into Greek myths.
I should have mentioned the similarity of the Tiresias-Athena story
with that of Acteon-Diana in one of my earlier posts but Callimachus
already did that. That story is told within the Tiresias telling.
I see two interesting aspects about the myths but first I want to do
a quick recap of some prior posts.
Steve sent in some posts where, using P.K. Saha's suggestion that
Eliot was conjoining heaven and hell in the Hyacinth garden, he said
that the narrator experienced something glorious and loathsome (or
guilt-inducing) at the same time. Steve said that it was a homosexual
incident but I think it could just be something that could be
construed as such (but what WAS "awful daring of a moment's
surrender?") Peter came in with a suggestion that, in essence,
"looking into the heart of light" Tiresias was blinded (Tiresias often
seen as the narrator/central consciousness.)
One thing that I find interesting about the two bathing myths is that
the female deities Athena and Diana are rather masculine in their
dress and interests. Diana is goddess of the HUNT and Athena is
usually shown armed and armored. Another merging of the sexes in TWL?
The other thing is that in one myth we have long life given to
Tiresias while Acteon's life is ripped away. Does this life and death
pairing match Steve's double "awful" (awe-inspiring and terrible) and
his take on P.K. Saha's conjoining of heaven and hell?
Remember that Eliot's allusion to the reverse aspect of
Tiresias-Athena was RELATIVELY easy to add to TWL though his note and
not having to work it into the plot.
Of course much of this may depend on whether we should see the light
in the garden blinding Tiresias (or a Tiresias-like character) as at
least SUGGESTED by Peter as a possible reading.
The Bath of Pallas in Greek:
Two translations (one from the greek-myth.com site above):
Expensive book all about Callimachus' Hymn Five: