P: Could you not get anything from the Eliot texts to which CR is pointing?
CR has very kindly highlighted texts in Eliot which relate to light and a
poetic rendering of E's intuitions about light. There is a parallel, or
perhaps better an analogy between those intuitions and what quantum physics
is telling us about the connections between the macro and micro dimensions
of the universe. If that is meaningless to you then I am sorry for the
paucity of your understanding. I prefer to think that you are just
No. As you must know, I regard CR as an utterly irresponsible in his
construal of Eliot's text. But even among responsible readers there will be
differences of interpretation, and for that reason I will not assume that a
naked quote from Eliot gives positive information on any reader's views. You
expressed agreement with some unstated proposition. I would like that stated
in your own words before attempting to respond to it.
My own interpretations of Eliot (and of almost all my favorite poets)
express my understanding of the poet -- NOT my own views of the world. In
fact, I differ rather sharply in fundamental ways from all the poets I most
cherish. Poems do not express existential truths, though they may raise
important existential questions. (The word "existential" here does not refer
to the philosophy associated with that term.) I love both Paradise Lost and
Pound's Cantos; I disagree profoundly with the "world views" to be found in
those poems. The same is true of Pope's Essay on Man and Jonson's The
Forest and Underwood. Book 24 of the Iliad does encompass a fundamental view
with which I am in sympathy, but I hold that view independently of the poem.
Hence I would not claim that The Iliad has any 'truths' to 'teach' the
reader. The reader who does not already believe he/she shares a common
humanity with his/her enemy is not apt to "learn" it from the Iliad. One
needs to know that, in fact, in order to recognize the greatness of the
I'm afraid poetry teaches no lessons, nor does it contain new truths.