> Nancy Gish wrote:
> Dear Carrol,
> It was, though, Eliot who said that without a spiritual meaning sex
> was no more than the coupling of animals. He didn't, one might note,
> know much about sex or passionate sexual experience--unless maybe long
> after with Valerie. All those pontifications came from someone who
> was still a virgin at 26, married suddenly, had a horrific experience
> of sex, and then took up celibacy.
> So that he called it animals only tells us how he saw it, but it did
> come from him.
I guess my response was mostly to the crudity of "making a point."
"Spiritualized sex" was a 20th c invention that was rapidly disappearing
even at mid-century. It was probably an improvement of "Close your eyes
and think of England," but not by mucy. And I think Eliot was a better
poet than he was a moral critic. And as you point out in a later post,
the sexual episodes in TWL are too complex for some simple label to be
tacked to them (especially in their relations to each other and the rest
of the poem I would add). We do have the typist's own comment on the
episode which contains her own judgment (and the judgment of the poet
remains for the reader to insert -- it is not that obvious). And we have
those unlit stairs also. Finally the defining feature of 'animal ses"
(whatever Eliot thought) is that it is for procreation only. Sex for
pleasure or social purposes is practiced only among humans and one other
primate: the bonobos. Bonobo females do not go into heat but are ready
for sex at any time, and they use it for a number of purposes (_purpose_
being relevant here): to preserve social peace within the group! In fact
if there is any attribubute whatever that makes sex "human" is the
presence of conscious purpose _OTHER_ than procreation. To claim that
any particular purpose is more or less human is a bit bizarre. There
often seems to be a small-boy pruriency in Eliot's references to it