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TSE  November 2007

TSE November 2007

Subject:

Re: TS Eliot: The Paradox of Simplicity - Language and Sin

From:

Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 1 Nov 2007 01:30:17 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (357 lines)

Fine, but how do you get that from a story in which the woman
seems to be in control, suggesting there is no need for rejection
of male control.

P.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Nancy Gish" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 6:54 AM
Subject: Re: TS Eliot: The Paradox of Simplicity - Language and Sin


> In fact, there is nothing at all "modern" about rejecting male control of
women.  Early religious texts as well as women's writing, from as far back
as one can find it, deny--often vehemently and radically--the notion that
women should obey men.
>
> My values are no different from those of the Babylonian poets whose god is
female or the ancient writers about Lilith or the Gnostics (except for their
focus on spirit only) or the writer of the Gospel of Mary of Magdala or
Julian of Norwich or all the Medieval women who called for women's knowledge
and voice or Jane Anger or Amelia Lanier or Mary Wollstonecraft and/or all
the feminist voices since.  And if I could find my copy just now I could
quote ancient religious texts.
>
> It is simply not the case that the rejection of the notion that Eve was
created to obey Adam is at all "modern" or new in any way.  Your suggestion
has no historical basis, and unfortunately the constant claim that women
before about 1962 were all perfectly comfortable with patriarchy is one way
it gets perpetuated.  I think anyone who makes claims about what were
women's--or men's--views about male control before the "modern" period
really needs to read a great mass of early women's texts.
>
> I prefer a story that does not claim male superiority or domination, and
women throughout recorded history have shared that preference whether or not
they focused it on the first Genesis story.
> Nancy
>
> >>> Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> 10/31/07 1:30 AM >>>
> On the other hand there are those who accuse the creation authors
> of an anti-woman prejudice because Eve is portrayed as the temptress.
> And on a hand beyond that, there are those who see Eve/woman as
> the manager, leading man, who appears to be little more than a
> lap dog.
>
> Your statement -- "I naturally much prefer the first story."
> would suggest that, rightly or wrongly, your reading is in-
> fluenced by modern values.
>
> Personally I find the first story more sterile, which I
> suppose belies my preference for dramatic narrative.
>
> One of the phenomena one encounters in Biblical studies, is
> the conflation of similar texts from disparate sources.
> So, in the psalms one will find one line followed by another
> somewhat similar in meaning, but with diffeent language.
>
> Perhaps the first creation story comes from a prelapserian time.
>
> Seems to me that Milton had the right idea (although I find I
> have no appetite for any of his work, including Lycidas --
> sorry Carroll). Completely remake the story to be one's own,
> as Eliot did with MITC. A Jungian reading I once encountered,
> had everyone with both Adam and Eve inner forces, struggling
> to achieve some kind of raproachment, with self and with the
> universe.
>
> As for the literalists, I can see defending them only on the
> ground of ignorance, culpable or not. It was only in the reign
> of Pius XII that Catholic scholars were given free reign (pun) to
> follow Biblical research where so ever it led. It's my impression
> that it was even later for some of the main line Protestants
> (and much earlier for others). Literacy leads very easily to
> literalism. It is similar to the scientific enslavement to facts,
> measurable results, now in the process of having to come to terms
> with the quantum world.
>
> I agree with McLuhan that the influence of modern media esp. TV
> and music, on our perceptual, brain and thought processes has
> given us a mechanism for detaching ourselves from the literal
> umbilical.
>
> P.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. on behalf of Nancy Gish
> Sent: Tue 10/30/2007 7:17 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: TS Eliot: The Paradox of Simplicity - Language and Sin
>
> I'm quite sure it is very silly, but unfortunately it is done, by
> millions, and the choice to read the second story only and read it as
> literal truth is used by millions to justify the nonsensical idea that
> men should rule over women.  This is still the case.  It is a key
> reason, probably the reason, Southern Baptists rescinded the right of
> women to preach.  Jimmy Carter left them for that doing that. And the
> lens of modern issues is precisely what is used to sustain this cruel
> absurdity.
>
> So no one is suggesting that we on this list should read them
> literally, let alone that I do.  I am writing about the destructive
> cultural impact.
> Nancy
>
>
> >>> Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> 10/29/2007 10:58 PM >>>
> Just as it is silly to read the creation stories as factual history,
> ie
> literally,
> it is also silly to read them with the lens of modern issues and
> values,
> which is just another way of reading them literally. They come out of
> an
> oral
> tribal culture, conflated from distinct traditions of telling the
> stories.
> In the
> tradition of haggadic midrash they are teaching stories designed to
> help
> the Hebrews to know who they are and from whence they come. They do
> have a literal UR quality to them, for that Babylonian context is the
> one
> out of which Abraham came. It is not surprising then to find variants
> on
> some
> of the stories in a non-Biblical work like Gilgamesh. It is probably
> closer
> to
> an accurate reading to see Adam and Eve like Gilgamesh as more  heroic
> types
> rather than as personal individuals. That kind of consciousness or
> self-awareness
> would be quite uncharacteristic of tribal culture, much of which
> involves
> social
> roles designed for survival and reproduction.
>
> Abraham's case is unique thosugh, in that it is uncharacteristic. He
> just
> picked
> up and started travelling when there was no call or need.
>
> Thomas Cahill's THE GIFTS OF THE JEWS is instructive on the matter.
>
> P.
>
> Chapter One: THE GIFTS OF THE JEWS by Thomas Cahill
>
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Nancy Gish" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 5:28 AM
> Subject: Re: TS Eliot: The Paradox of Simplicity - Language and Sin
>
>
> To clarify:  God does that only in the first story, not the second.
> Genesis has two quite different creation stories.  In the first (1:1
> to
> 2:4) man and woman are created at the same time, in god's image, and
> given paradise to be its stewards.  No rib, no dominance, no Adam
> naming
> stuff, no fall.  That is all in the second story, which starts at 2:5
> and is from another time and culture.
>
> I naturally much prefer the first story.
> Nancy
>
> >>> Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> 10/23/07 3:32 AM >>>
> God only does what exactly, in the second story?
> P.
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Nancy Gish" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Monday, October 22, 2007 5:43 AM
> Subject: Re: TS Eliot: The Paradox of Simplicity - Language and Sin
>
>
> God only does that in the second story, not the first.  One has to
> decide which story to accept, if any.
>
> Nancy
>
> >>> Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> 10/22/07 5:02 AM >>>
> God did ask Adam to name the creatures in nature.
> Supposedly in a state of original justice (ie pre-lapserian),
>    language isn't necessary because of a common consciousness
>    (cf Julian Jaynes). There is also a lot of speculation that if
>    Adam hadn't fallen, then that would have been the fulfillment of
> the
>    human race and so there would have been no progeny.
> It is Cain who gets credit, I believe, for founding the first city,
>    so perhaps language is his invention.
>
> Don't expect me to explain any of the above.
> It's just stuff I've driven over from time to time.
>
> P.
>
>   ----- Original Message ----- 
>   From: Emily Merriman
>   To: [log in to unmask]
>   Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2007 3:11 PM
>   Subject: Re: TS Eliot: The Paradox of Simplicity - Language and Sin
>
>
>   Dear Diana,
>
>
>   Geoffrey Hill is another poet for whom language is involved in the
> fall that constitutes original sin. Writing about the volumes of the
> Oxford English Dictionary, he says, "To brood over them and in them
> is
> to be finally persuaded that sematology is a theological dimension:
> the
> use of language is inseparable from that 'terrible aboriginal
> calamity'
> in which, according to Newman, the human race is implicated"
> ("Common
> Weal, Common Woe," Style and Faith 20). For Hill, language's
> fallen
> nature is observable not only in words (in secular terms, "the sense
> of
> the words we use is saturated in socio-political use and misuse"
> [notes
> from a Hill lecture on "Aspects of Poetry and Religion"]), but also in
> grammar ("grammar that reminds / us of our fall" [The Orchards of
> Syon
> LVIII]; "grammar / implicated in, interpreting, the Fall" [LXVII]),
> and
> in rhythm ("this life adjudged / derelict, a stress-bearer since
> Eden"
> [III]). Yet language is also a medium of "arduous conquest" and,
> perhaps, triumph--or redemption.
>
>
>   Emily
>
>
>   On Oct 18, 2007, at 7:43 AM, Diana Manister wrote:
>
>
>     Dear CR: I find it extraordinary that a great poet would
>     describe language as a sin! Whatever can he have meant?
>     That it represents a fall from Edenic innocence? That it
>     challenges the father by entering his territory of symbolic
>     thought and speech? Or was Eliot so guilt ridden that he
>     saw every pleasure as sinful? Diana
>
>     "one of the most arduous conquests of the human spirit:
>     the triumph of feeling and thought over the natural sin
>     of language."
>
>
>
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
>       Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2007 16:00:16 -0700
>       From: [log in to unmask]
>       Subject: TS Eliot: The Paradox of Simplicity
>       To: [log in to unmask]
>
>                               Ripeness is all.
>                                             William Shakespeare, King
> Lear
>
>                               The moon has lost her memory.
>                                                     T.S. Eliot,
> Rhapsody
>
>
>
>                                 [G]reat simplicity is only won by an
> intense moment
>                                 or by years of intelligent effort, or
> by
>                                 one of the most arduous conquests of
> the
> human spirit:
>                                 the triumph of feeling and thought
> over
> the natural sin
>                                 of language.
>
>
>                    T.S. Eliot, 'The Post-Georgians'
>
>                        Athenaeum (11 April 1919)
>
>
>                                 Is profound simplicity an attribute of
> great classics?
>                                 Does it account for their enduring
> popularity?
>                                 Is it an aspect of the writer's
> terrible
> honesty?
>                                             The obscurity of his/her
> meaning
> is not
> always caused by the difficulty
>                                 of his/her language.
>
>                                 CR
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>       __________________________________________________
>       Do You Yahoo!?
>       Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
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>
>
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