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TSE  July 2007

TSE July 2007

Subject:

Re: Rewrite The Waste Land

From:

Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Sun, 22 Jul 2007 22:40:07 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (141 lines)

"Bow-wow" and "meow" are symbolic as words.  Whatever sounds they are
intended to represent as those made by dogs and cats are--we assume--not
symbolic, though I am not sure we can be sure of that--but it is a
general human presumption.  The words on the page are symbols.  Eliot
did not bark or make cat sounds or bird sounds; he wrote words.  And all
the ones in TWL are actual words.  Grunts and moans are not
interjections; interjections are words, and "O" is an interjection. 
"Drip drop" is just two words.  

This is not even reasoning, let alone my reasoning.  It is just some
facts about the meaning of the terms "Symbolic" and "Imaginary." 
Infants do babble, and they make--according to linguists--all the sounds
in all human languages and then eliminate those that do not have
symbolic value in the language or languages they hear.  Their linguistic
abilities are not even rudimentary in the sense of higher or lower brain
function.  But Eliot is not even just writing sounds, and he is
certainly not making them.

I am not saying anything about all texts that imitate a full range of
language development--you seem to mean phonemes as well as morphemes--I
am just saying that Eliot does not write down phonemes like, say the
sound of "k."  With the possible exception of DA, since we do not know
the meaning of the sound the Thunder makes--though the script on the
page is in this case a symbol for whatever that sound is--every example
you give is a word or symbol for a sound we know.

By contrast, here is a language poet trying to do something like what
you describe (I don't know if the formatting will stay) :


ah, so, yes
   that's where things leave you ,
             full of abstractions

        animality
                         chordatsm

               vertobrodoty

                        mammaly

                       primetcy

                                     . . .

                                     . . .


                                mer can

                              jdei crt


                                           ny

                                               c


Or perhaps not, since one can treat this as a puzzle and figure out
parts of words or meanings even in the end.

In any case, it is not what Eliot did.
Nancy



Nancy by that reasoning bow-wow and meow are symbolic. Simple
expressions like Ow! or Wa! are no different simply because they are
produced by humans -- we function as animals on the lowest level of
development. Grunts and moans are not symbolic. Placing primitive sounds
in the same category as a sentence having complex literary syntax
ignores some important aspects of language production, not the least of
which are the areas of the brain responsible for lower and higher
linguistic expression, the latter being larger. Human infants have
rudimentary linguistic abilities, as did our species before it developed
higher functioning. You seem to be saying that texts that imitate the
full range of language development have no validity. If Eliot takes
language itself as one of his themes, then it is likely that he would
include its full range from simple to complex, primitive to the most
complicated. Diana


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From:  Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  Re: Rewrite The Waste Land
Date:  Sun, 22 Jul 2007 13:51:46 -0400
Interjections are not half-verbalizations; they are words.  They
function as morphemes, that is, sounds that carry meaning on their own.
The Chicago Manual Style defines an interjection as "a word, phrase, or
clause that denotes strong feeling" and, as I noted before, as "usually
grammatically independent of the rest of the sentence."

The CMS also distinguishes between "Oh" and "the vocative O, a form of
classically stylized direct address. . . as in "O Jerusalem!"  None of
this is the pre-verbal; it is the verbal and is quite clearly part of
the realm of the symbolic, not babbling of sounds and not image without
linguistic difference.

Here is Naomi Schor on the distinction as in Lacan:

"As Lacan's choice of the word Imaginary indicates, however, his
emphasis is on the  prevalence of the image in the pre-Oedipus, on the
manner in which the human subject's ego is constituted through a process
of identification with images:  the images of the other as self (mother)
and of the self as other (mirror image).  Because all inter- and
intransubjective relationships are rooted in narcissism and illusionism,
the subject is prey  to the lure of identification as well as to deathly
struggles for prestige.  the Symbolic register, equivalent to Freud's
Oedipus, is presided over by the father and the cultural order he
represents:  the subject enters into the Symbolic order at the very
moment when she is inscribed in the kinship system and is, as it were,
reinscribed when she acquires language and, through the mediation of the
father, takes her place in society.  Whereas the Imaginary implies
identity as well as identification, the Symbolic relies on difference,
sexual (castration) as well as linguistic."

I am not validating any of this; I am just quoting it to point to the
distinction between Imaginary and Symbolic as not just about verbal and
pre-verbal but about image and symbolic sounds.  Interjections rely on
difference in the same way as any other word.

As for birds, they don't babble; they sing specific notes with specific
patterns.  Some even have dialects.  A bird that does not hear its own
species sing in its first few months will never sing it correctly--just
as humans totally deprived of language up to puberty never fully learn
language (though there are only a tiny number of such cases that have
been studied and they are terrible stories.)  When Eliot speaks of the
song of the thrush, it is a very specific song--a pattern of consistent
and recognizable notes, not undifferentiated sounds.

Cheers,
Nancy


>>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 07/22/07 5:05 PM >>>


>>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 07/22/07 5:05 PM >>>

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