Peter Montgomery wrote:
> Does portraying perversity in one's work automatically
> make the portrayer as portrayer perverse?
Was it Groucho Marx who said the difference between an amateur and a
professional comedian is that the former thinks its funny to dress an
actor up as an old lady in a wheelchair and let it run through the crowd
towards the edge of a cliff while the professional would use a real old
People may laugh about girls in lysol but they presume a like-minded
bourgeoise versifier is talking to them ( I mean they did buy the poem
at a good bookshop didn't they ) and like the wrestling no one gets
hurt except by accident.
So I would suggest that the use of "perverse" is unhelpful because the
poet and the reader come to each other with shared assumptions of
social and historical similarities - they don't need one of those plates
on the side of Voyager to explain how they relate to the hydrogen atom
and the solar system.
I am not persuaded that I should divide Eliot into two entities one of
whom has traits which the other hasn't although I accept the complexity
of the problem which promotes such a proposition.
We have an interesting situation in this country. A former paid killer
has now written a large number of successful memoirs( "Hits and
Memories" " How to kill friends and influence people" and so on). When
he mentions putting a man in a cement mixer it has only momentary humour
and a considered view of him does suggest perversity right at the end of
the daisy chain of portrayal. And I am allowing him the same structures
and artifices as other writers in that. His violence is in the public
domain and casual disregard for causing dreadful harm is palpably
perverse reading him.
But a nice boy from New England who can type it up well enough for an
editor to publish broadcasts before he starts that the only Crippen in
him is at the costume party kind. Marlowe had Mephistopheles know the
measure of academic chaps' worldly boasts.
Fight on - its been quite good lately for those of us lacking the
sophistication to join in.
PS My son is studying Eliot at University. He surprised me by saying he
found him an attractive person as revealed in his works. I have not
explored whether that's Eliot the poet or the epiphenomenon.