LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.0

Help for TSE Archives


TSE Archives

TSE Archives


TSE@PO.MISSOURI.EDU


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

TSE Home

TSE Home

TSE  September 2011

TSE September 2011

Subject:

Re: 'The Waste Land' as an 'absolutist' poem (was Re: Absolutist Poetry ...)

From:

Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Sat, 24 Sep 2011 10:07:05 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (116 lines)

Rick wanted more on a post I wrote. Here is sort of a rambling response.

First an anecdote. It was said of the German Social Democrat Eduard 
Bernstein that he was called philosophically naive even by the 
philosophically naive. We have a somewhat analogous situation here.

I'm no philosopher either, and I have a weak grasp of the history of 
philosophy. Also, my knowledge of Hegel is sketchy and  3d-hand. Given 
all this, the passages you quoted from Eliot's dissertation seemed at 
best to be a very diluted & wandering rehash of Hegel. I will add one 
qualification. Even a giant like John dewey did start out as a Hegelian 
-- and I don't know how weak his youthful Hegelianism was. People do 
outgrow their dissertations.

Several years ago on this list I believe I noted that there seemed to be 
a Hegelian influence still operating in Eliot's "Tradition and the 
Individual Talent" -- in the image of the "existing monuments" forming a 
whole which was changed by the new masterpiece -- a concept which seemed 
to draw on Hegel's "The Truth is the Whole" ( a sort of slangy way of 
expressing the concept of "internal relations": i.e., the "monuments of 
art are internally related (think of an organism) and therefore one 
could not understand any one in isolation from the whole. "Pure" 
capitalism is such -- though all actual capitalist systems exist in a 
non-capitalist context and are complicated by contingency.

An illustration. Imagine yourself entering a store with (say) $50 which 
you plan to spend on aome luxury  good. You consider two products, each 
$50: one manufactured in (say)Paris, the other in Wichita. In making 
your decision you equate  the living human activity of workers in Paris 
with the living human activity with workers in Wichita. The two groups 
of workers are _internally related_, neither intelligible in isolation 
from the other.  The very meaning of their activity is determined not by 
the activity or by their intentions but by their (internal) relations to 
the activity of strangers. Similarly, if one takes Eliot's suggestion 
seriously, all texts are only parts of a "whole" held together by 
internal relations. But I think the passages you quoted might offer an 
'escape' from a strict construal of this unity of all texts. (It's been 
a couple days since I read your post.) There he speaks of _opinions_ 
modifying each other, and that would lead to a concept of all 
'monuments' forming a whole _in the mind of a reader_. And that has some 
empirical 'grip.' As I taught a course in Ancient Literature, I had the 
students consider the Odyssey, the Oresteia, and the Republic as forming 
such a whole _when_ we look 'back' at them from a historical knowledge 
of all three. The Odyssey revolves around the 'idea' of legitimate 
kingship -- though that is probably not at all how the poet would have 
conceptualized it in his own mind. A couple centuries later Aeschylus 
has his focus on the 'same' question transformed: now the question is of 
the legitimate rule of the _demos_ rather than a King, and of course 
different Athenians held different conceptions of that. Aeschylus seems 
to have been a 'moderate' democrat -- and the institution the creation 
of which resolves the many contradictions of the Trilogy is an 
aristocatic institution ( implying some moderating power of the 
_eupatridae_  on the power of the _demos_ (peasants & artisans). The 
Odyssey ends with an impossible resolution (so impossible some scholars 
have argued Book 24 was a alter addition.) Consider this summary: 
Odysseus leaves home carrying with him all the noble youth of Athens. He 
returns alone 20 years later (bringing a huge treasure with him). And 
what is the first thing he does: Another generation has grown up in his 
absence, which he slaughters. Then the relatives come after him: he 
kills his man before his son& his father; his father kills his man 
before his son 7 grandson; Telemachus kills his man before his father 
and grandfather. Now there are about three lines left in the poem, with 
this conflict which cannot be resolved. "And Athene makes peace among 
the contending factions." How? Aeschylus' Trilogy expands those three 
lines, providing a 'sensible' or at least believable ending for the 
Odyssey. But the two works wonderfully pose, implicitly and even 
explicitly, the whole matter of legitimacy in power. Now Plato, who 
provides all the principles that govern authoritarian thought, a bitter 
enemy of democracy, comes along and raises the same question, with the 
debate carefully stage-managed.

Though the Odyssey remains the same, knowing Aeschylus transforms the 
reader's way of looking at the Odyssey. One can relate this to Marx's 
aphorism in the Grundrisse, "The anatomy of man is a key to the anatomy 
of the ape." That is, if one only knew the ape's anatomy there would be 
no reason to see in it the potential to become the human anatomy.  (This 
perspective is crucial in the thought of Stephen Jay Gould: he points 
out that if the 'tape of life" wer played over again there is no reason 
to assume it would repeat itself: only beause of a stray asteroid 60 
million years ago do humans exist!)

One last speculation.  You write, quoting someone quoting Eliot:

*****"if one recognizes two points of view which are quite 
irreconcilable and yet melt into each other, this theory [of the 
Absolute] is quite superfluous." In his dissertation Eliot was thinking 
along the same lines when he wrote that "the pre-established harmony [of 
the Absolute] is unnecessary if we recognize that the monads [of 
individual experience] are not wholly distinct" (KE, 206, 147). Because 
individual points of view are not completely distinct, the painful task 
of unification becomes possible without relying on the easy consolations 
of the Absolute.
*****

Eliot seems concerned here with how humans can reach _shared_ 
perspectives (thus making society possible) even though there is no 
'objective' standard to which they can appeal. His solution is to posit 
athat human thought as a whole is a whole, with individual opinions 
merely fragments of that. Hence by a dialectical process those fragments 
can arrive at the whole. Inside opinion one can find an escape fromm 
opinion.

Carrol


On 9/23/2011 3:44 PM, Rickard A. Parker wrote: On 9/22/2011 9:27 PM, 
Carrol Cox wrote: A couple random observations. Eliot was one lousy 
philosopher & it is well he became a poet & publishing executive instead 
of a professional philosopher.

Please say more.

Regards, Rick Parker

.=======
.=======

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

November 2021
October 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001
March 1996
February 1996
January 1996
December 1995
November 1995

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



PO.MISSOURI.EDU

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager