Marcin wrote:
# While there is no way out of it, the speaker comes
to understanding that all the worlds constructed by
solipsistic ego-subjects are merely "points of view"
"revolving like ancient women / Gathering fuel in
vacant lots."
 
Please identify any lines that can be interpretated as meaning "there is no way out of it" -- meaning solipsistic constructions of reality. Is it not possible that the unstated Grail quest in the poem is for "a way out of it?"  Diana
 




From:  cr mittal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  Re: "That Thou Art" and Preludes
Date:  Sun, 10 Sep 2006 11:02:20 -0700

              
           
  
Dear Marcin,
  
 
  
You make some very perceptive observations. 
  
These, I believe, are crucial to our understanding of
  
Eliot's poetry, especially that he chose to publish
  
in his lifetime.
  
 
  
# the  speaker in Preludes seems to be attempting
  
 a resolution of apparent dichotomies.
  
 
  
# The subject -
object dichotomy of the Cartesian
  
approach is presented in the poem, I think, as both
  
 inalienable andalienating...
  
 
  
# The speaker's awareness of "multitude of
  
solipsisms", and of his/her own partaking in such an
  
epistemic situation, is a step towards the sense of
  
alienation endemic in this very situation.
  

# While there is no way out of it, the speaker comes
  
to understanding that all the worlds constructed by
  
solipsistic ego-subjects are merely "points of view"
  
"revolving like ancient women / Gathering fuel in
  
vacant lots."
  
 
  
# Those "worlds", with their pretensions to exclusivity,
  
in the context of mystical experience of the ONE
  
 ("infinitely gentle"), may seem, I imagine, somewhat
  
 amusing.
  
 
Marcin, I consider them precious statements --
  
there's no question of my disagreeing with any of
  
them, except maybe in the working out of their
  
ramifications here and there vis-a-vis Eliot's
  
poetry. 
  
 
  
Let me now compliment  you for the following
  
remarks you make in your reply to my post:
  
 
  
# I do agree - there seems to be unity in the speaker's
  
response to his/her everyday ("in spite of the apparently
  
differing identities he/she puts on").
  
 
  
# The speaker is deep within the sordid. He/she is
  
of the sordid "constituted"...
  
 
  
#  no matter how repulsive the street seems to him/her,
he/she is there and within;  one among many "raising
  
dingy shades"; "sitting along the bed's edge", yellow-soled,
  
dirty-handed;
  
 
  
# I imagine that this is what Eliot has in mind writing in
  
 his essay on Dante: "The contemplation of the horrid or
  
 sordid or disgusting, by an artist, is the necessary and
  
 negative aspect of the impulse toward the pursuit of
  
 beauty....The negative is the more
importunate."
  
 
  
# There is no gainsaying that the dichotomy between
  
the ideal and the real is the central dichotomy which
  
 informed TSE's thought and sensitivity.
  
 
  
# I agree with Harriet Davidson, that TSE in both his
  
poetry and thought was  trying to resolve dichotomies
  
of various kinds, by "hermeneutic [...] circular grounding
  
of seeming opposites in each other".
  
 
  
Marcin,  thanks a lot for
raising these points, all of them 
  
exceedingly crucial to our understanding of the central
  
dilemma in Eliot's poetry.  Dunja in one of her posts did
  
draw our attention to this dilemma -- of the central
  
protagonist of Eliot's poetry (please take it to mean
  
the poetry Eliot chose to get published) -- that of being
  
at the same time a part of this world's corruption as well
  
as a detached spectator contemplating the baseness, the
  
futility and the meaninglessness of man's earthly
  
engagements, as well as of
his own life. Throughtout,
  
there is a growing urge to break loose from this
  
soul-killing ambience of sordidness and drudgery,
  
and reach out for a spiritually satisfying mode of life.
  
 
  
It is in this context that TSE remarked that 
  
"The contemplation of the horrid or sordid or disgusting,
  
by an artist, is the necessary and negative aspect of the
  
impulse toward the
pursuit of beauty....The negative is
  
the more importunate." 
  
 
  
And this is what the poet, in my considered opinion, is
  
doing in the 'Preludes'.
  
 
  
This, I hope, supports those statements of yours which
  
elicit my admiration and praise. And this, I hope, will
  
take care of the areas where we tend to disagree.
  
 
  
Many thanks again, Marcin, for your painstaking
  
elucidation of your perceptions. I wished I could dilate
  
upon the centrality of each one of these many points
  
in Eliot's poetry. But, there will be time...
  
 
  
I'll only be too glad to elaborate on any of "your"
  
points :)
  
 
  
Regards.
  
 
  
~ CR
  
  


 


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