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TSE  September 2006

TSE September 2006

Subject:

'contemplation of the horrid or sordid or disgusting

From:

Vishvesh Obla <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Mon, 11 Sep 2006 07:15:19 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (187 lines)

The contemplation of the horrid or sordid or
disgusting,
by an artist, is the necessary and negative aspect of
the
impulse toward the pursuit of beauty....The negative
is
the more importunate." 

I had been struck by ‘Eliot’s contemplation of the
horrid or sordid or disgusting’ and I am glad that
this is being discussed here -- struck for the very
reason that it has parallels with Flaubert, in the
sense that Eliot preferred to stay away from life in
the Lawrentian sense (A relative note : Lawrence was
appalled by the disgust of life by a genius as Swift
who couldn’t bear the thought that his dear Julia
‘sh*ts’)

Are there any indicators from Eliot’s own works as to
what constituted ‘the horrid or sordid or disgusting’
for him?  




--- cr mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>                 Dear Marcin,
>    
>   You make some very perceptive observations. 
>   These, I believe, are crucial to our understanding
> of
>   Eliot's poetry, especially that he chose to
> publish
>   in his lifetime.
>    
>   # the  speaker in Preludes seems to be attempting
>    a resolution of apparent dichotomies.
>    
>   # The subject - object dichotomy of the Cartesian 
>   approach is presented in the poem, I think, as
> both
>    inalienable andalienating... 
>    
>   # The speaker's awareness of "multitude of 
>   solipsisms", and of his/her own partaking in such
> an
>   epistemic situation, is a step towards the sense
> of 
>   alienation endemic in this very situation.
>   
> # While there is no way out of it, the speaker comes
>   to understanding that all the worlds constructed
> by
>   solipsistic ego-subjects are merely "points of
> view" 
>   "revolving like ancient women / Gathering fuel in 
>   vacant lots."
>    
>   # Those "worlds", with their pretensions to
> exclusivity,
>   in the context of mystical experience of the ONE
>    ("infinitely gentle"), may seem, I imagine,
> somewhat
>    amusing.
>    
>   Marcin, I consider them precious statements -- 
>   there's no question of my disagreeing with any of 
>   them, except maybe in the working out of their 
>   ramifications here and there vis-a-vis Eliot's
>   poetry. 
>    
>   Let me now compliment  you for the following
>   remarks you make in your reply to my post:
>    
>   # I do agree - there seems to be unity in the
> speaker's
>   response to his/her everyday ("in spite of the
> apparently 
>   differing identities he/she puts on"). 
>    
>   # The speaker is deep within the sordid. He/she is
> 
>   of the sordid "constituted"... 
>    
>   #  no matter how repulsive the street seems to
> him/her, 
> he/she is there and within;  one among many "raising
>   dingy shades"; "sitting along the bed's edge",
> yellow-soled, 
>   dirty-handed;
>    
>   # I imagine that this is what Eliot has in mind
> writing in
>    his essay on Dante: "The contemplation of the
> horrid or
>    sordid or disgusting, by an artist, is the
> necessary and
>    negative aspect of the impulse toward the pursuit
> of
>    beauty....The negative is the more importunate."
>    
>   # There is no gainsaying that the dichotomy
> between 
>   the ideal and the real is the central dichotomy
> which
>    informed TSE's thought and sensitivity. 
>    
>   # I agree with Harriet Davidson, that TSE in both
> his 
>   poetry and thought was  trying to resolve
> dichotomies
>   of various kinds, by "hermeneutic [...] circular
> grounding 
>   of seeming opposites in each other".
>    
>   Marcin,  thanks a lot for raising these points,
> all of them 
>   exceedingly crucial to our understanding of the
> central
>   dilemma in Eliot's poetry.  Dunja in one of her
> posts did
>   draw our attention to this dilemma -- of the
> central 
>   protagonist of Eliot's poetry (please take it to
> mean
>   the poetry Eliot chose to get published) -- that
> of being
>   at the same time a part of this world's corruption
> as well
>   as a detached spectator contemplating the
> baseness, the
>   futility and the meaninglessness of man's earthly
>   engagements, as well as of his own life.
> Throughtout, 
>   there is a growing urge to break loose from this 
>   soul-killing ambience of sordidness and drudgery, 
>   and reach out for a spiritually satisfying mode of
> life.
>    
>   It is in this context that TSE remarked that 
>   "The contemplation of the horrid or sordid or
> disgusting,
>   by an artist, is the necessary and negative aspect
> of the
>   impulse toward the pursuit of beauty....The
> negative is
>   the more importunate." 
>    
>   And this is what the poet, in my considered
> opinion, is
>   doing in the 'Preludes'. 
>    
>   This, I hope, supports those statements of yours
> which
>   elicit my admiration and praise. And this, I hope,
> will 
>   take care of the areas where we tend to disagree.
>    
>   Many thanks again, Marcin, for your painstaking 
>   elucidation of your perceptions. I wished I could
> dilate 
>   upon the centrality of each one of these many
> points
>   in Eliot's poetry. But, there will be time...
>    
>   I'll only be too glad to elaborate on any of
> "your"
>   points :)
>    
>   Regards.
>    
>   ~ CR
>       
>   
> 
>  
>  		
> ---------------------------------
> Do you Yahoo!?
>  Everyone is raving about the  all-new Yahoo! Mail.


__________________________________________________
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