On 4/16/2014 8:30 PM, Rickard A. Parker wrote:
Sorry for the chopped up format; I pushed a key and the whole thing
exploded and reformed into a giant single paragraph, so I edited and cut
a bit to make it visible again....
RA< Presenting my case IS one of my retirement projects.
Well, if it's going to take years to make it articulate, I guess I won't
look to you for help in composing those Eliot bar songs. Darn, you could
have had top billing, too: lyrics by Parker, stolen tunes by Armstrong......
RP< And the undercurrent that I see is one of personal sadness although
how Eliot handled it by putting it in a poem is thing of wonderment.
Yessir, not on the sadness but on the wonderment we agree. And if it
is a creative act -- "how he handled it" and not just a complaint or a
clever ruse, therein will be found the connection to joy, which is not a
Hallmark kind of thing but the kind of thing my old Eliot prof called a
"triumph of the human spirit." I suppose you have to believe there is
such a thing in order to pursue it.
RP< Okay, what is in that section? Eliot's own words, allusions and
notes pointing to the bible. I don't see Eliot's own words as religious
and allusions can be seen differently by different people. Eliot's notes
point to chapters that can be taken as wisdom and not religious.
KA> Tom Jefferson read the Bible without religion by the exigency of
excising the religious terminology. Effective
KA> for him perhaps, but no one of any persuasion could
KA> reasonably call the end result "The Bible."
RP< Well, that goes to show you that there's plenty in the bible that
I would disagree with you here and I believe Eliot would, and did,
too. In one of the essays I'm pretty sure he explicitly says it is a
mistake to look at the Bible as something other than -- I don't remember
the term he used -- sacred literature. I realize that you and Jefferson
can make an argument disagreeing with him, but the point is that he
would not use the Bible as "wisdom literature." And what Jefferson's
act goes to show, strictly speaking, is that he believed what he was
doing was legit, but not necessarily that it was.
KA> I assume you're not editing out the parts of TWL that have religious
weight and which its author, presumably, put in for that reason. Or is
this related to that anticipated retirement project you mentioned earlier?
RP< Here is where we would duel because I would disregard the religious
weight that you would see. Since neither of us spoke to Eliot about
these things we would each have to present our case. I do have comments
by Eliot about TWL being personal.
You're right, here again is where we disagree. When you say
"personal," I hear autobiographical complaint, not poetry, and think
that you think that the lifeblood of the poem consists only in what he
suffered, not in what and how he transcended. Which is not to say it is
not personal or does not point to his suffering, only that it succeeds
to the extent that it become trans-personal, and that becoming is the
great good thing about the poetry, and takes place at a very high
level. Pantheon level, as Eugene might say. Eliot's finger to God's
finger, a la the Sistine Chapel, only for Eliot the clouds through which
he must reach are Nietsche's and the experience so powerful that it
leaves him with unfinished business, which is what he takes up in Ash
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