On Eliot and topic: Eliot chooses Tiresias to have the central vision of
TWL (what Tiresias sees. . .) apparently because Tiresias has seen past
and future and been male and female. That is his role in Antigone also--to
see what is hidden and what Creon insists can ONLY be corrupt or false
or naive or greedy but not possibly right if it disagrees with him because
he is the state. He listens to no one because he knows he is right. But
he is not right. Tiresias frightens Creon because he knows Tiresias has
been right in every instance.
Creon calls everyone names and attributes bad motives to them, but it
does not make him right.
I am increasingly coming to the view that The Waste Land is as much
about WWI or at least as much evoked by the War as by anything else in
Eliot's life. He found it profoundly disturbing and its effect on his life
intolerable. And after the war he worked on reparations and hated the
impact of the treaty. Interestingly, when in Germany immediately before
the War, he agreed with the Germans. When he escaped Germany in
August 1914 and got back to London, he completely changed his mind. It
depended on the news he was getting, and he says he heard no other
views while in Germany.
We, too, are able to respond to what we hear, but the electronic age, if
nothing else, does spread many opinions instantly for those who bother to
read them. And the fact that Europeans disagree with the US government
does not seem to differentiate them from the majority of Americans (59%)
who want the UN to have more time.
The Times/CNN poll numbers (the most recent), for the record:
2/3 of Americans support war----AS AN OPTION
59% believe the UN should have more time
62% believe we should NOT act without allies
AND, perhaps more telling, 42% of Americans believe Sadam Hussein
was involved in 9/11-----a FALSE assumption being encouraged by the
administration even if not directly said. A man in Maine interviewed on tv
this week gave that as his reason for supporting war. If that 42% knew it
was false, who knows what it would do for the very qualified "support"
As it happens, we are not threatening war against Saudi Arabia, where
most of the hijackers came from and where no one has any rights either.
So the idea mentioned in another post that it is a matter of whom to
believe seems irrelevant. It seems a fact--from the above figures--that
belief in persons is not a very useful basis for support.
Certainly Eliot never burdened himself by believing in the statements of
persons as opposed to his own thinking through of ideas. More important,
I think the figure of Tiresias in TWL is significant here as a bridge: Tiresias
reminds us of the historical and cyclical repetition of the same claims and
the same forms of arrogance and error. And TWL reminds us of the
meaning of war and destruction--an aftermath of despair and death without
any clear achievement or improvement. What WWI led to was WWII.
Date sent: 0000,0000,8000Sat, 22 Feb 2003 12:09:14 -0600
Send reply to: 0000,0000,8000"T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <<[log in to unmask]>
From: 0000,0000,8000Carrol Cox <<[log in to unmask]>
Subject: 0000,0000,8000Re: Where is Tiresias when we need him/her?
To: 0000,0000,8000[log in to unmask]
Nancy Gish wrote:
> And how is this different from the fact that every country has fools,
> makes mistakes, does terrible things, and has masses of people who read
> foolish books? I'm sure you know anyone could list the same for
Let us assume that all concerned in this complex of issues are sensible
and know what they are doing. What is involved is not differences in
"intelligence" or "courage" but real material clashes of interest, under
given historical conditions. (And incidentally, what is in the interest of
a given state is _not_ necessarily in the interest of the inhabitans of
that state. In fact I would argue that the actions of France and Germany
are more in the interests of ordinary Americans than are the actions of
the u.s. state.)
What the French and many other Europeans (including apparently a
majority of the English population) recognize is that the main threat to
world peace in the 21st century is the United States. As I stated in an
earlier post, "A U.S. Army occupying Iraq would have its finger on the
carotid artery of Europe and Japan." I believe the leaders of the EU (as
well as masses of their citizens) are aware of this fact, and aware that
it is vital to their interests to oppose u.s. expansionism. But the
present balance of forces is such (i.e., U.S. global hegemony is stable
enough) that they cannot openly move against the U.S., though it would
bboth in their interests _and_ in the interests of the vast majority of
Americans, were they able to do so.
Hence their present pretense, of being foot-dragging "allies" of their
real enemy (the U.S.), is probably their most sensible policy.
If the U.S. continues on its present course, within a generation the
United States and the E.U. will be on the verge of open warfare
(probably nuclear warfare). It is in the interest of humanity that the
U.S. be stopped.
I don't read Kate's posts, but I gather that she is essentially standing
by the principles of Kipling's "White Man's Burden." The best answer,
perhaps, is Mark Twain's "To the Person Sitting in Darkness."
Or perhaps Gandhi's response to a question as to what he thought of
western civilization: "I think it would be a good idea."
Nancy's reference to _Antigone_ is perhaps quite relevant. Creon claims
that he is defending "Order." In effect Antigone agrees with him on the
basic issue of order, but she maintains that his act is an act of anarchy,
not of order. The U.S. is now creating disorder, not order, in the world.