I think Carrol's view on critical methods applies to Bedient as well.
Being published not only does not make one beyond criticism, it
multiplies it in reviews and responses and later readings. It is one of
the anxieties of publication. As I noted before, critical books very
often begin with dismissing some of what has been said, and sometimes
the dismissals are not gentle. That is part of a serious debate.
I have not reread Bedient recently, so I would wonder about this whether
it is part of a larger analysis--that is tied to the text--or just a
specific speculation on a line. In any case, I agree that it is wild,
but I often think that about psychoanalytic readings.
Dear CR: I read so many published, supposedly authoritative speculations
as the meaning of individual lines and phrases and even single words in
Eliot's work that our imaginative approach seems more ordinary than not.
For example, Calvin Bedient, in his book He Do the Police in Different
Voices, offers his speculations on the corpse planted in the garden:
"Is it the Primal Father who lies in the garden, killed yet restored to
a still-phallic life in a nonthreatening vegetal form, thus easing
conscience a little (a very little)? Once allies in an ancient war, are
Stetson and the protagonist also the original Brothers who conspired
against the Unbearable Father? ...Or have they murdered, instead, the
Primal Mother, the principle of germination itself, the indifferent
feminine power of reproduction -- a power the soul must murder but which
the Oedipal son must honor and protect! The burial of the dead seems in
this instance an attempt to annihilate, in indiscriminate, condensed
form, both phallic terrorization and female fertility...."
Now that's what I call wild speculation. Eliot only says it's a planted
corpse. But Bedient's over-the-top Freudian analysis was published by
The University of Chicago Press! By comparison, our imaginative or even
fanciful speculations on "ivory men" seem conservative indeed! At least
we tried to tie our associations to the actual text! heh. Diana
>>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 07/02/07 9:52 AM >>>