From: Vishvesh Obla
It is difficult for me to call someone by his first
name after I know him as a teacher.
I understand the cultural reluctance. I have
experienced it off and on. It wouldn't bother
me, if I didn't seem to be the only one whom
you address that way, especially when there are
full professors on the list.
I was once engaged as a visiting prof. at a
college in Pennsylvania. Some people would say
that gives me the right to use the title.
Frankly such titles in a democracy seem pretentious.
It is a particularly Canadian attitude.
I experiment with language unabashedly in this
conversational medium. It needs to find its
For, I come from
a country where calling one by first name shows lack
of respect and where teachers are objects of the kind
of reverence that one ought to show towards one's
parents. Though I have been here in North America for
more than five years, I find it difficult to get out
of that habit (not the reverence part, but calling a
teacher by his first name). I understand that it
could be kind of embarrassing to you in this informal
list and I will take the effort of calling you by your
first name henceforth.
Yes, as Marcia made a note of, I got curious by your
usage of 'touchstone'. I must admit that I cannot
comprehend many of your postings and I was wondering
if you had made an inference to Mathew Arnold in that
particular posting, because of the subject being
discussed. I believe that Mathew Arnold, in spite of
whatever views that Eliot held about him, was one of
his mentors in critical thought. In the essay (The
function of Criticism, if I remember it right) in
which Arnold talks of the 'touchstone', he talks of
the common fallacies associated with understanding a
poem. He talks of historic and personal fallacies;
under personal fallacies, he makes it clear how a few
related personal details can stand in our way of
understanding a poem. So, there you go !
--- Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Interesting question, Vishvesh.
> I seldom draw inferences from good old Matt.
> Somehow I lost track of his long withdrawing roar,
> as it faded out of the scope of my hearing.
> He was however a major concern for Eliot, so I am
> wondering why you think I would be drawing such an
> inference, and I am even wondering what inference
> you think I am drawing.
> You are welcome to call me Peter if you wish.
> I don't, in fact, profess officially to merit
> the title professor, and have, in fact, long
> since become quite suspicious of it.
> Would you not become suspicious if I started
> referring to you as student?
> Dr. Peter C. Montgomery
> Dept. of English
> Camosun College
> 3100 Foul Bay Rd.
> Victoria, BC CANADA V8P 5J2
> [log in to unmask]
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Vishvesh Obla [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2003 5:59 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: An amateur Eliot enthusiast's wild
> Dear Professor,
> Are you making any inference to Mathew Arnold ? If
> I would be interested to know in what context you
> making it.
> --- Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>
> > Also, there is the observation from some critic
> > or other that in some predecessor of modern
> > the word means TOUCHSTONE, a stone used for
> > distnguishing
> > real from fool's gold.
> > Rub yourself against Prufrock to see if you are
> > or not.
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: William Gray
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Sent: 5/12/03 9:40 AM
> > Subject: Re: An amateur Eliot enthusiast's wild
> > musing
> > Rita,
> > Nancy's right on here. Prufrock-Littau (if my
> > memory serves me) was
> > the name of a furniture store in St. Louis where
> > Eliot grew up. The
> > connotations of Prufrock's names are also
> > significant: Alfred, like the
> > heroic king -- also a very English name and rather
> > old; Prufrock, which
> > combines something like 'prude' and 'frock',
> > definitely a recent name,
> > and not English. These two names alone form a
> > paradox. In addition, the
> > title as a whole rings paradoxically -- the love
> > song of who? Not some
> > Romantic name, but rather the very
> > business-card-like "J. Alfred
> > Prufrock." Pretty sanitary.
> > The poem has been interpreted various ways, as a
> > critique of early 20th
> > century society (the women come and go, talking of
> > Michelangelo) or of
> > modern man (Prufrock himself as an impotent man --
> > in many ways), etc.
> > Personally I read the poem as a collection of many
> > of these
> > interpretations (Eliot was rather profound, you
> > know!) as well as an
> > autobiographical account from a young Eliot in the
> > mouth of Prufrock,
> > trying to decide whether to become a poet or not.
> > Will he get
> > inspiration? Should he keep up with the fads or be
> > true to his own sense
> > of what is important? What if no one cares, even
> > he said something
> > stunningly new? The 'you' and 'I', then, would be
> > Eliot talking to
> > himself, perhaps something very much like the
> > difference between "the
> > man who suffers and the mind which creates" (from
> > "Tradition and the
> > Individual Talent").
> > Just some thoughts. Hope things go well for your
> > class this evening. You
> > are privileged to be in the shrinking number of
> > those who love learning.
> > Will Gray
> > >>> [log in to unmask] 05/12/03 12:19PM >>>
> > There was a business sign in St. Louis with the
> > "Prufrock" on it,
> > and
> > the name has been attributed to that. Eliot also
> > said he chose it just
> > because of the sound. He said various things at
> > various times.
> > Nancy
> > Date sent: Mon, 12 May 2003 11:41:03
> > -0400
> > Send reply to: "T. S. Eliot Discussion
> > forum."
> > <[log in to unmask]>
> > From: Rita Proffitt
> > <[log in to unmask]>
> > Subject: Re: An amateur Eliot
> > enthusiast's wild musing
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Thanks to everyone for the advice, corrections,
> > encouragement. I
> > have
> > my class tonight and we will be discussing
> > Does anyone know
> > why
> > Eliot chose that name? What does J stand for? And
> > course if you want
> > to
> > tell me what the poem means to you, I would love
> > hear. Will be
> > interesting to compare to the class's ideas.
> > I am attending with
> > mostly 19 y/o who just want to go out and party.
> > one of the few
> > serious
> > students. rita
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