[Same with html stripped. I hate html.]
Nancy: I do not share your assumption that you know what is moral and what
is not or that you can define the stupidity of those who have a different
The foundation stone of all intellectual morality, if one must drag morality
in, is avoidance of ad hominem arguments.
An old joke in the legal profession.
If the facts are against you, talk law.
If the law is against you, talk facts.
If both law and facts are against you, attack the opposing attorney.
An honest intellectual sticks to the subject and doesn't wander off into
trying to discredit the source.
Do any serious Eliot scholars pay much attention any more to these oracular
statements which he couldn't resist throwing out. Some of his earlier ones,
though I think they are nonsense (e.g., objective correlative, unified
sensibility) had the virtue of triggering thought. This one on morality and
poetry is utterly vapid.
His remarks on Baudelaire never much interested me, but the idea of not
being worth dying figures beautifully one a couple of his most wonderful
The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract.
Several of us got chatting about Dante on a political list the other day,
and when I quoted these lines several people posted thanks, most of the
form, "I don't think much of Eliot, but these lines are wonderful." As
indeed they are. They even lend some support to an idea that I was never
quite convinced of, the Pound-Eliot-Tate et al concept of poetry "keeping
up the language." "Awful" in that first line brings back all the tremendous
force in the word's earlier usage, brushing aside the everyday use of it.
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