The chaos in this post must be in one of the quoted posts rather than in
Diana's, since when I read the original I read hers without trouble, and
it formatted properly when first fwd and then run through e-mail
stripper (which usually gets rid of all mess). But the quoted posts came
out as below!!!!
Consider if the makers of antibiotics operated on Microsoft princples!
-------- Original Message -------- Subject: Re: Identity of the speaker
in 'Preludes' Date: Wed, 06 Sep 2006 14:36:13 +0000 From: Diana Manister
<[log in to unmask]> Reply-To: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum."
<[log in to unmask]> To: [log in to unmask]
Peter, perhaps someone can correct or confirm my understanding of "tat
vam asi" as meaning thusness, givenness, uninterpretable suchness, the
opposite of "fancies that are curled /Around these images, and
From: Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> Reply-To: "T. S. Eliot
Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]> To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Identity of the speaker in 'Preludes' Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2006
You're welcome. I agree that the Cartesian/Newtonian world is toast in
this poem.My preference is for the medieval understanding of multiple
causality. Post Locke,Hobbes, Hume there has been preoccupation with
efficient causality, the billiard ballapproach, which identifies only
the physical influence of one phenom. on another.There has been no
acceptance of formal, or final causality (or material causalityfor that
matter -- though Einstein has made a difference there). In effect, all
the focushas been on how, not on what or why. The temporalisation of
perceptionhas rejected the other dimensions as supersititions, and hence
the mystery has beensuppressed. I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling: The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing. We've just been through a very thorough
review and discussion of Eliot's involvement inthe world of sanskrit. It
is no minor influence on him. I'm sure the archives would tellyou all
we've done. Perhaps our grand master, Rickard, can point you in that
dimension.Your phrase, "tat vam asi" did not, however, come up in that
discussion as faras I remember. While the Cartesian influence is endemic
to our culture, I prefer, rather than trying to sus it out or experience
ontological shock, to see that one needs to reject the actual,
experiential conditioning of one's early childhoodand early education
(some are, of course, spared that tragedy), to reach one's natural
perceptual modeswhich have been supprssed by personal, social and
political influences. Hence I can be somewhat of anuisance when people
start to pedal those cliché modes. Regards,Peter
----- Original Message ----- From:marcin ostrouch To:
[log in to unmask] Sent: Tuesday, September 05, 2006 12:08 AM Subject:
Re: Identity of the speaker in 'Preludes' Indeed. For can we ever
"bracket our biased nature" (Shargel and Dwyer's phrasing)?
Thank you for the reference to Pound's poem. It is most illuminating.The
closing lines left me... well, moved. Let me bring up the Hindu "tat vam
asi" (Thou art that) again. It is common knowledge that TSE did some
reading in Upanishads, and so did Pound, I would imagine (I am not quite
familiar with the miglior fabro's background). "Tat vam asi" definitely
implies rejection of the everyday (Cartesian, categorising, alienating)
mode of perception.
Would you agree that the "dismembement" of the "They" (synecdochic
"feet", "hands"), and the atomised world, to which the speaker in
Preludes is awaken, is analogous to Cartesian "mutilation" of the One
("infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering thing")?
Just for the record: "ontological shock" is an expression taken from
Tillich's "Systematic Theology" (qtd. in "The literary Depiction of
Ontological Shock" by E.P. Levy [quite an interesting analysis of the
aforementioned condition in "East Cocker" and in Beckett's "Murphy"])
Once again, thank you for joining me and these issues.
Peter Montgomery wrote:
It is amazing how much of one's own perceptual conditioning can be found
in the poem. It isalso useful to reference Pound's Portrait d'un Femme,
which makes a fascinating companion piece. "Your mind and you are our
The poem is a spectral stone indeed.
P. ----- Original Message ----- From: "Dunja Seselja"
<[log in to unmask]> To: <[log in to unmask]> Sent: Monday,
September 04, 2006 2:18 PM Subject: Re: Identity of the speaker in
Very interesting idea, Peter. There are, in general, a lot similarities
between Preludes, Portrait of a Lady and Love Song of A.J. Prufrock.
Could it be that the Preludes mentioned in Portrait of a Lady are a
cross-reference to Eliot's own Preludes? It is also interesting that in
all three poems the subject is confronted with what Marcian called
"ontological shock" - he is overwhelmed with time and his finite
existence in it. Heideggerian being-to-death maybe? It is fascinating
how much of Heidegger can be found in early Eliot... written at least 10
years before Heidegger's main work was published.
--- Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
It might be worth considering "Portarait of a Lady"'s "You have the
scene arrange itself,as it will seem to do." P. ----- Original Message
----- From: "Dunja Seselja" <[log in to unmask]> To:
<[log in to unmask]> Sent: Sunday, September 03, 2006 3:34 PM Subject:
Re: Identity of the speaker in 'Preludes'
I've been thinking of the questions you rose at
List and here are some ideas (and further
I've come up to. The subject appearing in Eliot's Preludes seems to
undetermined, and in so far, I guess it could be
see as the generic one. In any case, the main characteristic of the
subject (when I say the
I don't mean the subject of the speaker, but the subject the poem speaks
of, but in how far they
be distinguished at all, I'll say something a bit later) is his/her
passivity. While in the part I
subject is set against the world (being subjected
its course), in the part II (s)he is set against
time (being "condemned" to it) . (I think the
verse of the part II shares some of the ideas appearing in Prufrock, and
I'd be glad to discuss
issue as well). In the part III, we finally see the subject
something, but even that ("you tossed a blanket")
the action of removing = replying to what has
been there. But what this part seems to bring is
(only?) action left to the subject - to have a
(in solitude). Now, in the part IV, the subject of
speaker finally appears, but almost equivalent to
subject (s)he is talking about - it is again a passive subject (i am
moved... I cling...). The
verse reveals a sort of "catharsic" discovery of
subject (both the speaker and the one (s)he is speaking of), similar to
the relation of the
Greeks towards the destiny: as the destiny is uncontrollable even by
gods themselves, why making
much fuss about it? It seems to me that the status of the subject in
poem could be compared with Heidegger's notion of "being thrown into the
world" (excuse my
I'm not sure how this expression is to be
in English), as well as with the "eigentlich" and "uneigentlich" modes
of "Dasein". However, I don't see why the poem would stand in
opposition to the classical subject-object
and how would that be related to the "ontological shock" you mentioned.
If by "ontological shock"
consider the realization of the finiteness of
being, then this idea is definitely present in
Preludes and the Love Song of A.J. Prufrock, but I don't see how that
could be connected with an anti-Cartesian approach. Could you develop a
--- marcin ostrouch <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I would like to raise the issue of identity of
speaker in /Preludes. / Please forgive me if you find it an open secret,
being a non-native speaker of English, and rather a novice at systematic
criticism, I find the question problematic.
At present I am attempting a reading of a couple
poems by TSE in the light of Heideggerian concept of authentic
existence. Therefore, I tend to shun the structuralist approach which
the grey volumes of my institute's library...
It does seem that throughout the poem the
of the speaker remains indeterminate.
Would you agree that the inflected pronoun "you"
the first stanza, and the same pronoun in the third, are generic
[as I am not quite informed in the use of those]
What is more, the generic character of the
seems to be deliberately strengthened by references to both sexes.
The governing consciousness, or if you like, the voice speaking in the
poem, (if there is ONE), seems to comply with
notion of Hindu /tat vam asi /("Thou art That"), or at any rate, as
Moody observes "[speaker's] ordinary, egoistical self is suspended".
Therefore the epistemic situation of the speaker seems to differ from
the traditonal Cartisian (subject-object) model.
The poem read in this way would come up to one
the modernist expressions of the epistemic trauma, or of what Tillich
calls "ontological shock".
Could you please comment on those intuitions of mine?
Is any one of you interested in hermeneutic
of TSE? Could you possibly recommend some articles or sources?
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