I suppose I feel that regardless of the glosses I have heard I find a kind
of unpleasant edge to that line with its stops on the palatal consonants
which are hard abrupt sounds and I take the line to be antipathetic at some
level. So I am wondering if the image is in the mind what intellectual
process would bring one to the word "squat" much in the way "perches' would
be gentler and sentimental or patronising if it were metrically acceptable
Ps apart from those historical reconstructions of the crucifixion which the
Turin Shroud lunatics enthuse over I am not convinced that Christ squats in
crucifixions even in the more recent brutalist stuff. In my childhood he
never seemed fussed at all and was quite erect but mine was a Roman
trumphalist version I admit.
From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
Of Ken Armstrong
Sent: Friday, 21 October 2011 11:06 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: The Jew in Eliot's poetry (anti-semitism and objective
Peter Dillane wrote:
> Interesting thought Rickard; If a poet were formulating an image starting
> with a window and its attendant architecture a figure of a person how do
> you decide on the word for what the figure does.
> In the plastic arts people often start with a structural obligation either
> in a commissioned work or because they have say an oblong canvas or they
> working with found objects.
> So just like the Maori in the coin where do you think the squatting comes
> - at the start of the thought or a word choice once the figure is imagined
> but needs to be concisely separated from part of any scene which might be
> part of the window itself.
Pete and Rickard,
If you mean where does the squatting come in in the composition of
Gerontion, it might be useful to point out that Eliot was not under any
such material restrictions regardless of when the thought struck him. If
he wanted to portray a flesh and blood person, he could easily have
picked a place where such a person would be; not squatting in a window.
The figure of Christ crucified or the Passion might be a scene of him
squatting, whether you've seen that image or not (Eliot is known to have
visited a lot of churches and could easily be thought to have an
extensive catalog of such images). And unless someone pipes up to say
that yes, it's a widely known fact and they've seen Jewish landlords or
landlords in general squatting in windows, I don't think there is any
real reason to think that the Jew in the poem is a flesh and blood person.
> I see Perloff's argument as being a valid reading (but I haven't taken
> it as my reading.) The landlord would be a private symbol of Eliot's
> outsideness, an uncomfortable position.
I don't understand the distinction, valid reading but not yours.
What does valid mean if it doesn't mean you incorporate it into your
reading? That it's possible but not necessarily so?
My own take on Perloff, besides her previously demonstrated
unreliability in assessing Eliot, is that she is psychologizing the
poem where there is no compelling reason to do so, except as she is
willy nilly trying to shore up a prejudice about Eliot and his poetry.
And of course that is what I think she is doing.
> I can't remember seeing either a flesh and blood person or a symbol
squatting in a window though I have seen cymbals squinting through a
cymbals? squinting? Hmmm. I've seen them glinting with a bang, not a
whimper, but never squinting....