Dear CR: I've heard world-renowned physicists on "Nova" express
bewilderment as to how on earth Einstein came up with his General Theory,
even as they now are amazed by Witten's development of M-theory. Einstein's
and Witten's insights are so extra-rational that their source seems
I suppose anyone who goes so far beyond the most brilliant people in his or
her field will seem to have almost shamanistic access to that field's
secrets. As a poet, I feel that way about Eliot. No matter how much one
studies his work and his prose writings, the gift that enabled him to create
poetry that is among the best if not the best of his time remains a mystery.
It seems he was a bit bewildered as to its sources himself! Best wishes and
thanks for expressing the amazement about Eliot that I for one share. Diana
From: cr mittal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Eliot's creative process
Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2006 10:43:17 -0800
Thanks, Diana, for your very heart-warming note. Absolutely right --
I have been thinking along these lines too, intrigued by what you
aptly put in the subject-line as "Eliot's creative process". Yes, it has
so many dimensions to it and has engaged the critics' attention all
along. It's something that intrigued Eliot himself and he attempted to
describe it now-in-this-now-in-that fashion -- no wonder there have
been contradictions which cease to be so as part of an all-inclusive
whole, as you put it.
Thanks too for putting in the article "T.S. Eliot and the Poem Itself"
by Denis Donoghue. I have yet to read it though. I've been awfully
busy with family and friends.
And I'm grateful to María Laura Balbín for that quotation from Peter
Ackroyd. Since I had Ackroyd's book, I instantly rushed to read it
and found it was precisely this experience of Eliot vis-a-vis poetic
creation that accounted for the way how 'What The Thunder Said'
Peter Montgomery's observations in this regard have been
Well, I'm in the process of typing out some interesting material on
this from Peter Ackroyd (including the English version of what Laura
quoted in German).
And I'd like to read that article by Donoghue before I finally
get back to the List.
Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
One wonders what all Eliot scholarship implies if it is not an explication
of his creative process -- not only why he chose this image or phrase or
cadence, but how it came to him, and what part it plays in his larger
vision. Eliot himself asserted that he did not understand his own creative
process. The remark he made about keeping his hand in with practice verses
so he would be ready when real poetry arrived testifies to that.
Bergonzi quotes Eliot's assertions that the creative process is irrational
and possibly dangerous. Eliot himself believed its source to be a
"primitive" part of the psyche. Perhaps the discussion in this list on Eliot
and the primitive is pertinent to developing insight into his creativity.
The source of great work is always mysterious, even to the artist who
it. Beethoven, Picasso, the Beatles, Stravinsky, Jackson Pollock....what
possessed them? Where did their originality come from? This curiosity is not
the exclusive possession of Eliot admirers. If the public's ongoing interest
in the wellsprings of genius constitutes a cult, it is a very inclusive one.
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