I think, however, that you can't really separate what he meant by
dissociation of sensibility without some understanding of what he was
doing with his philosophic studies and particularly the dissertation, a
major theme of which was the relation of thought and feeling in F H
Bradley. Any attempt to grasp Eliot's context for "dissociation" or
"objective correlative" would have to incorporate his highly developed
view of Bradley's metaphysics. I think Peter is right about E's concern
with the sensibility of a culture and much of his criticism focused on
the condition of the artist's audience's sensibility and what the artist
must do to in his art to speak to it. It's been a long while since I
read it, but this was the context for his criticism of Shakespeare
(right or wrong) for in effect pandering to his audience's tastes.
Nancy Gish wrote:
> Dear Carrol,
> The term got a bit lost under Freud's term "repression"--which is not
> quite the same--but in the 1980s especially, "neo-dissociation" became
> a serious focus. It remains in the psychological literature.
> >>> Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> 05/07/10 8:26 AM >>>
> > Peter Montgomery wrote:
> > Seems to me that the context Eliot was using in his famous
> > dissociation quote
> > was of a whole culture, rather than an individual case. Surely on a
> > cultural scale it
> > is a different phenomenon.
> I don't know the background Nancy does, but on the face of it Eliot was
> using a psychological term (with its meaning for him in psychologyP to
> describe one or both of two things:
> a) whole cultures
> b) the cultural _causes_ of a psychological trait
> The term is a slippery one, which is perhaps one of the reasons it
> disappeard from psychology.
> Eliot, like James (H) and Wordsworth and Pope before him was prettty
> clearly trying to "make room" for his own poetrty. In that he was rather
> successful -- too successful in that he produced a number of oracular
> saying about literature, history, and culture which are mostly pompous
> nonsense and kept too many critics & scholars too long preoccupied with
> makign sense of rather empty formulations. If I recall corrctly Eliot
> himself commented a few times on his unfortunate ability to coin terms
> that caught on too well. "Dissociation of sensibility" as a hisstorical
> analysis (in fact, "sensibility" however defined) was one such
> wild-goose chase.