As I am guilty of quoting Eliot from memory without checking the source,
as Marcia pointed out, and therefore misquoting, I am not in a position to
be pedantic about this.  But I disagree completely with the idea that the
way email evokes slippage is a good thing.  I think when people are having
a conversation, they do think and take care, and I think writing always
needs to be treated with care even to seem like a conversation.  I agree
about mean-spirited challenges to others, but that is quite different from
agreeing that fast typing without much attention is a good thing.  Why is it
good?  It let me misquote and so quite misrepresent Eliot's care, though
that was my interest.  So I won't quote again without checking or making
clear that I am paraphrasing from memory.  Love of language is not

Date sent:              Mon, 19 May 2003 14:13:09 +0100
Send reply to:          "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From:                   George Carless <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:                Re: Journey of the Magi
To:                     [log in to unmask]

On Sun, 18 May 2003, Nancy Gish wrote:


> I am interested in the varied affirmations of George's objection to
> "pedantic" concerns.  It seems to me that a list dealing with a
> profoundly "pedantic," poet in the sense of exactness and precision,
> would be honoring the poet by caring about language.  It was Eliot who
> wanted to "purify the dialect of the tribe," and except in dramatic
> dialogue, his own language was precise, perfected, and always carefully
> edited.  He was, after all, an editor.  And he commented on the
> importance of editing.  He said of editors when he sent TWL to the Dial
> "I hope they don't bitch the punctuation because it's essential."

Eliot, however, was not writing in a time of rapidly hashed-out e-mail --
which is, despite its vague similarity to letter-writing, a new medium.
While I would certainly never suggest that attention to correct spelling
and grammar "don't matter", I think that in e-mail people often write
quickly, "thinking with their fingers" as some fellow list-member
described it.  This kind of thing can lead to minor mistakes, which are
compounded by the fact that most of us probably give less attention to
what we type than we would to a "real" letter - and I think that this can
be a good thing.  For me, e-mail is more akin to a well-moderated,
coherent verbal discussion than to an exchange of letters, and I think
that some degree of "slippage" is permissible - up to a point.  And, at
any rate, I was certainly never promoting any contempt for care with
language -- but rather addressing the point that certain people *do* seem
to like to simply correct one another as a form of one-upmanship, and that
it *does* seem to be done in a mean-spirited fashion.  When someone who
ordinarily writes well enough accidentally types "effect" when he means
"affect", it's just *silly* to spend the time bitching about it.

And besides, I hardly see that we should follow Eliot as a role model for
all things.  To do so would seem.. a bit obtuse.