Diana, I think your word "hallucinatory" is key. Despite much criticism to the contrary, the poem is not logical and organized neatly to demonstrate an idea. That view developed with critics like Brooks and George Williamson and others, but it had not been seen by everyone that way initially any more than now. It is a surreal landscape of psychological states. I don't see why that makes it nonsensical at all. It signifies what it signifies, not nothing. And then the "tale told by an idiot" is life itself.
Nancy as usual you make a strong argument. But if the significance of all of Eliot's characters and images were as confused and confusing as his use of water, the poem would be nonsensical, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." But it does communicate clearly the hallucinatory breakdown of a psyche that cannot at the moment integrate inner and outer stimuli, so something in the poem must be working better than the poet's use of water does.
Very best, Diana
>>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 08/02/07 3:55 PM >>>