In a message dated 4/17/2003 8:13:09 PM Eastern Standard Time, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> writes:
>Next question, then, is, "Why is the argument tedious?" And >why would it
>be a tedious argument that is perceived to have an insidious >intent?
I've always read the contrast of tedious/overwhelming -- which is a little odd; one thinks of arguments leading to "overwhelming questions" as likely to be interesting -- as reflecting Eliot's frustration that so much of human happiness and (perhaps) purpose depends upon something as banal as "a friction of the members."
>If the streets are leading to a question (and I agree that this is the
>what the syntax demands), then it must be that the physical spot they
>lead to 'contains' a questioner, who will ask the question which will
This seems likely, but the presence of an indentified interrogator at the end of the streets' path is not necessarily intended. The streets could contain the question themselves, not in the form of an individual questioner but in the form of the choices and decisions they present for the protagonist.
>And if, as I have always assumed, Prufrock is speaking to himself, and
>the "us" of "let us go" is Prufrock and himself, then he is saying to
>himself, don't try to guess what the question will be -- let's just get
>on with it.
>Or is he, rather, gathering up the nerve to pose the question himself to
>someone else? In that case it would be a sexual proposition of some
>sort, which (a) he fears to make and (b) he expects to be answered
>negatively. He knows he won't dare, and he won't dare because he thinks
>he knows the answer will be no, and he has not the courage to face such
>a no. He can't turn the blame on to the lady, as the speaker of
>Marvell's poem can and does.
As I read it, he blames the lady a little. That is, her anticipated failure to understand what he is getting at is used to justify the decision not to confront the overwhelming question. Maybe she would have said, instead of "that is not what I meant at all", "yes, that is what I've always thought, and no one has been able to express or understand! We are soul mates!" We (and he) will never know, because the presumption of rejection becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.