Eliot wouldn't claim to have experienced the death
of the self. He just didn't talk about his personal experience,
unless one chooses to see the poems as revelatory in that matter.
The break down, his being unable to connect with anything,
certainly has characteristics of the death of some aspect of his
----- Original Message -----
From: "Nancy Gish" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2007 4:23 PM
Subject: Re: The boat imagery in TWL
> I agree that it is a death of ego. But I hasten to add that I do not
> myself have any desire for a dead ego in this sense, and I don't think
> Eliot ever experienced it or claimed to.
> I would question Lear--more like the dark night of sense than of
> spirit, since Lear is a very intensely present self, not an opened soul
> for god to enter.
> >>> Barnwell Black <[log in to unmask]> 07/31/07 8:11 PM >>>
> Re the comparison of the T. S. Eliot of TWL with the
> post-conversion TSE
> of 4Q, I think CR and Nancy are "right on," to borrow a phrase from
> youth. The post-conversion concept of "the death of the Self" seems to
> me to
> represent the death of the "Ego," a necessary happening before
> rebirth, as per TSE -- a movement away from the "We live as if by our
> own wisdom" of
> Heraclitus toward the common Logos. Another example in literature of
> "the death of the Self, or Ego" is the soliloquy of KING Lear to the
> KING LEAR
> Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
> You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
> Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
> You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
> Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
> Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
> Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
> Crack nature's moulds, an germens spill at once,
> That make ingrateful man!
> Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!
> Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:
> I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
> I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children,
> You owe me no subscription: then let fall
> Your horrible pleasure: here I stand, your slave,
> A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man:
> But yet I call you servile ministers,
> That have with two pernicious daughters join'd
> Your high engender'd battles 'gainst a head
> So old and white as this. O! O! 'tis foul!
> Now that's that I call "the Dark Night of the Soul."
> Ken Wrote:
> Where exactly is the death of the Self in TSE? And do you mean Self
> instead of self (or what is the distinction)? My thought is that TSE,
> or post-conversion, would be more inclined to turn the self toward God
> to extinguish it.
> Ken A.
> CR Wrote:
> To Eliot, the death of the Self is ancillary to spiritual rebirth.
> One has first to arrive at the stage of what Saint John of the Cross
> called The Dark Night of the Soul. Here's how 'Burnt Norton'
> describes it :
> Descend lower, descend only
> Into the world of perpetual solitude,
> World not world, but that which is not world,
> Internal darkness, deprivation
> And destitution of all property,
> Desiccation of the world of sense,
> Evacuation of the world of fancy,
> Inoperancy of the world of spirit;
> This is the one way, and the other
> Is the same, not in movement
> But abstention from movement; while the world moves
> In appetency, on its metalled ways
> Of time past and time future.
> Nancy Wrote:
> One could say that the "self" has been eaten by the leopards in AW and
> therefore is dead though some voice is remaining, but the negative way
> of St. John of the Cross does call for the death of self--in the sense
> of becoming nothing through the removing of sense in the dark night of
> the senses and of any self in the dark night of the soul, so that god
> can enter. It is in any case present in 4Q, however you read it in
> relation to the rest.
> On the other hand, Eliot admired mystics; he never claimed to be on, so
> the context matters.
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