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Diana,
 
I'm glad it helps.
 
As to your other point, Eliot admitted to having only a fleeting
experience of this mystical moment. Please peruse the following
passage from Lyndon Gordon (Eliot's Early Years). I had posted it
at the List sometime back. Here it is:
 
"About the same time that Eliot graduated from Harvard  College,
while walking one day in Boston, he saw the streets suddenly
shrink and divide. His everyday preoccupations, his past, all the
claims of the future fell away and he was enfolded in a great silence.
In June 1910 he wrote a poem he never published called 'Silence',
his first and perhaps most lucid description of the timeless moment.
Eliot's intuition in the noisy street is similar to Emerson's on the
common when he felt 'glad to the brink of fear.' At the age of
twenty-one Eliot had one of those experiences which, he said,
many have had once or twice in their lives and been unable to put
into words. 'You may call it communion with the Divine or you may
call it temporary crystallization of the mind', he said on another
occasion. For some, such a moment is part of an orthodox religious
life, for others -- like Emerson -- it is terminal, sufficient in itself,
and gratefully received. For Eliot, however, the memory of bliss
was to remain a kind of torment, a mocking reminder through the
years that followed that there was an area of experience just beyond
his grasp, which contemporary images of life could not compass. 
In 'Silence' Eliot declared that this was the moment for which he had waited. " 
 
Regards.
 
~ CR
 
P.S.  I too was surprised to find the Wikipedia article so good.


Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Dear CR: That's the best interpretation I've seen of the lines in question. So Eliot is saying he is does not have or aspire to mystical experience, in your opinion? Diana
Diana, the answer seems to be available in the passage
  
which describes the poet's experience of "the still point"
  
in 'Burnt Norton'.
  
 
  
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
  
 
  
It's an admission that the experience of "the still point"
  
(as well as the state of consciousness that goes with it)
  
is out of time ( i.e. time past, present, and future -- the
  
earthly time).
  
 
  
As such, in the expression "to be conscious is not to be in time",
  
consciousness refers to a state of mind that is not in time --
  
it belongs to the mystic state of being at "the still point".
  
 
  
Elsewhere in the poem, the poet says
that such an experience
  
is vouchsafed only to a saint or a sage, suggesting that ordinary
  
human beings have to live in time present, past and future --
  
grapple with them -- in order to conquer them. This notion
  
of conquering time "through time" finds expression in the
  
second of the passages quoted below.
  
 
  
Regards.
  
 
  
~ CR
  

 
  
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for
that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.
                                          Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The
moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.
  
 
  
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  


Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
  
  
  
I see that no one will venture to interpret the line "to be conscious in not to be in time." What could he have meant? It all depends on what Eliot meant by "conscious." He says that the moments in the rose-garden, etc. are "in time," so those moments are not conscious, by his own definition.
  
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be
remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.
  
No one will make a stab at interpreting what he means by conscious? I myself am quite at a loss. Diana

  
  

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