Does anyone know the various links between a poem by a famous English poet,
published in Maclure's (sp?) in 1902 and the strategy followed by the
Japanese in the occupied areas of China? That strategy was called "Loot All,
Burn All, Kill All."
When WW One began, Henry James responded, something like the following (from
memory and I don't remember the exact phrasing): "So this is what it was
leading to." He did not draw all the consequences of his perception,
however, for he proceeded to take out British citizenship in protest against
America's FAILURE to join the holocaust. On the other hand, a Polish woman
in a German prison drew the right conclusions: The doctrine of Progress
which had dominated European thought (both conservative and radical left)
was false: there were no guarantees in history, no particular reason to
assume that the drift of history was ever upward.
Eliot in Gerontion and TWL seemed at least to have glimpsed this truth,
though hardly with Luxemburg's precision. (Walter Benjamin later developed
Luxemburg's insight in greater theoretical detail.) Eliot, however, could
only react to his partial perception by a shrinking into a crabbed
conservatism. Conservatism has a grain of truth at its center: change is
painful, and should be avoided if possible. However, the implications that
conservatives draw from this are horrendous and speed the rush into the
I would argue that my trivia, including the first question, are closer to
Eliot than most of the recent posts with the subject line "The Art of..."