I have been thinking a little about Eliot on Marston which CR raised recently. I am generally in trouble with these essays although I find the Marlowe one very good. I think this is mostly because the Marlowe is so specifically focused on the consequences of the novelties of versification and doesn't allude to propositions such as the one about Marston having a nebulous plane of meaning and so on. Eliot makes a similar sort of strategic observation about Marlowe I guess when he says that The Jew of Malta needs to be seen as farce not tragedy of blood but at least that is a very clearly articulated local point. So when Eliot took on the ELizabethan dramatists - if one can use the term for writings over many years for various journalistic moments- I wonder how much the agenda was beholding to the notion that the conscious present is an awareness of the past which the past could not know in itself. If he does take this tack I wonder what to do with his observation that Marston would be more highly valued if the great ship were not Shakespearean but rather of Racine. And I really can't reconcile his stated notion "the moment we enter the Elizabethan period we praise or condemn plays according to the usual Elizabethan criteria".
While I take your point about the historicism disease Carrol I guess I would baulk at the meaning of 'explain' as a comprehensive or encyclopaedic stance. In practical terms I am persuaded by Maxwell Smart negotiating with the Indian Chief about to launch the giant arrow at Washington " If we take the promises of the past and reality of the present thinking of the future ..let her rip Red Cloud"
On 06/07/2012, at 11:12 PM, Carrol Cox wrote:
> P> Art is prophetic; it can even create the future.
> The Modernists had an even more startling theory: the present changes the
> For example, consider this passage from Eliot's "Tradition and the
> Individual Talent"
> ". . . the difference between the present and the past is that the conscious
> present is an awareness of the past in a way and to an extent which the
> past's awareness of itself cannot show.
> Some one said: 'The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much
> more than they did.' Precisely, and they are that which we know."
> -- Tom --
> Eliot was vulgarizing/mystifying Hegel. Compare: "The anatomy of man is a
> key to the anatomy of the ape."
> And the point is precisely that neither art nor science can predict the
> future, for it is only the future that allows us to understand the present.
> Examining the ape without knowing of what followed would never reveal the
> potential coming into existence of the human, but _knowing_ human anatomy
> allows us to see in the ape that potential. This is te opposite of
> historicism, which holds that the meaning of an event is to be found in
> theevent's origins, while a historical aroach discovers in the event the
> otherwise unknowable potential of its origins.
> One must do history backwards to understand it. The present explains the
> past, but is not explained by the past. Historicism is perhaps the main
> disease of modern thought.