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TSE  December 2004

TSE December 2004

Subject:

Re: Fusion of Oriental and Occidental Wisdom in 4Q (An observation)

From:

Marcia Karp <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 30 Dec 2004 10:16:13 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (72 lines)

Vishvesh Obla wrote:

>“In order to search for a way out of the moral and spiritual chaos of the modern world, Eliot traveled back to the original spirit of the Pre-Socratic philosophy, Heraclitus' logos, and absorbed the primal spring of the Oriental philosophies and thus succeeds in achieving a rich fusion of Oriental and Occidental wisdom.”
>
>I was looking at the construction of the above
>passage, and found it worth discussing.  One of the
>glaring deficiencies I find in modern writing,
>particularly in most of the academic papers is that
>most of the sentences and the phrases that follow each
>other are loosely constructed and hence lack in
>coherence.  I am not looking down my nose at the
>passage but trying to articulate some of my thoughts I
>often come across while I read academic material.
> ...
>There is
>nothing of a qualifier for the word ‘succeeds’ (note
>the ‘thus’ that precedes it) and hence the sentence
>hangs lifeless on its own without the strength of a
>qualifying argument.
>

Dear Vishvesh,
The two sentences Rick quotes from Jesse Weston are each a coherent,
albeit complicated, sentence. The difficulty with your passage is not
loose construction, unless you mean ungrammatical construction. Loose
construction is an acceptable and useful type of syntax. There are,
though, three partial syntactical structures in the sentence you quote.

> “In order to search for a way out ..., he did A and thus succeeds in
> achieving ..."

Actually, I'm not sure if this is partial or incoherent, but the change
from the first claim of reason ( to search for ...) to the outcome
(succeeds in ...) would work better for me if there were some
acknowledgment of the relation between the two. Some sort of adverb or
conjunction would be sufficient, but given the mess of the sentence, how
best to do it?
"Succeeds" is qualified by "in achieving ... ," so I wonder if you are
having the same difficulty with it that I do.

> "..., Eliot traveled back to the original spirit of the Pre-Socratic
> philosophy, Heraclitus' logos, and absorbed the primal spring ..."

The grammatical expectation is
"... to A, B, and C ... "
where each is something he travels back to and where "to" is understood
to govern each item.

"to A and B, and he absorbed ..."
would remove that expectation and clarify the meaning. I added "he" so
that the clause is independent and requires the comma before "and."

There is an additional muddle in
"to the original spirit of the Pre-Socratic philosophy, Heraclitus'
logos, ..."
Is it the original spirit of each item or only of the first?


> "..., Eliot traveled back ... and absorbed ..."

As I've just said, I think this is not grammatically embodied.


Comma use is ever-changing in English. Rick's Weston sentences employ
them where we might no longer, yet Weston's grammar is fine by today's
standards, and her sentences are coherent. A small edit would fix the
dissertation sentence, at least as far as minimal grammar and coherence.
I'll leave you to figure out if anything of value is expressed. As you
say, the language is stock and empty.

Best,
Marcia

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