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TSE  March 2010

TSE March 2010

Subject:

Re: Eliot on Charles Williams' mysticism

From:

Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 25 Mar 2010 09:35:19 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (91 lines)

It is a complex subject. I suspect your puzzlement is a pose.
For some people the word mysticism takes in the whole field of occult
pursuits.
For others the meaning is more focussed on communication with the deity.
Eliot was interested in and explored the whole range, not as a personal
pursuit, but for understanding. He is at ease in dealing with the whole
gamut.

"The Dry Salvages" is all about mystical experience in all sorts of
contexts.
It even has a very wry, humourous opening:
"I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god...." There are other metaphorical uses of god in the
quartet.

I think the following gets down to defining pop mysticism in contrast
to the real thing:

"To communicate with Mars, converse with spirits,
 To report the behaviour of the sea monster,
 Describe the horoscope, haruspicate or scry,
 Observe disease in signatures, evoke
 Biography from the wrinkles of the palm
 And tragedy from fingers; release omens
 By sortilege, or tea leaves, riddle the inevitable
 With playing cards, fiddle with pentagrams
 Or barbituric acids, or dissect
 The recurrent image into pre-conscious terrors-
 To explore the womb, or tomb, or dreams; all these are usual
 Pastimes and drugs, and features of the press:
 And always will be, some of them especially
 When there is distress of nations and perplexity
 Whether on the shores of Asia, or in the Edgware Road.
 Men's curiosity searches past and future
 And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend
 The point of intersection of the timeless
 With time, is an occupation for the saint-
 No occupation either, but something given
 And taken, in a lifetime's death in love,"

P.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "DIana Manister" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 4:46 PM
Subject: Re: Eliot on Charles Williams' mysticism


> Dear Peter,
>
> What a curious variety of definitions of mysticism! They range from
> spiritualism to divine Love. I'm puzzled.
>
> Diana
>
> Sent from my iPod
>
> On Mar 24, 2010, at 7:35 PM, Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
>
> > "It would be easy, but not particularly profitable, to classify
> > Williams as
> > a "mystic." He knew, and could put into words, states of
> > consciousness of a
> > mystical kind. and the sort of elusive experience which many people
> > have
> > once or twice in a life-time. (I am thinking of certain passages in
> > The
> > Place of the Lion, but there is no novel without them.) And if
> > "mysticism"
> > means a belief in the supernatural, and in its operation in the
> > natural
> > world, then Williams was a mystic: but that is only belief in what
> > adherents
> > of every religion in the world profess to believe. His is a
> > mysticism, not
> > of curiosity, or of the lust for power, but of Love; and Love, in the
> > meaning which it had for Williams-as readers of his study of Dante,
> > called
> > The Figure of Beatrice, will know-is a deity of whom most human beings
> > seldom see more than the shadow. But in his novels he is as much
> > concerned
> > with quite ordinary human beings, with their struggle among the
> > shadows,
> > their weaknesses and self-deceptions, their occasional moments of
> > understanding, as with the Vision of Love towards which creation
> > strives. "
> >
> > Intro to ALL HALLOWS EVE, 1948.
> >

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