The mystical moment in "Preludes"?
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From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Diana Manister
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2006 7:32 AM
Subject: Re: Eliot's Indic Studies

From Lyndall Gordon's Eliot biography:

'You may call it communion with the Divine or you may all 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. " 

Dear CR: I recall your posting of this. It does not help me to understand to what different states of consciousness Eliot refers in the 4Q passage that includes "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."
Is the blissful moment of silence, what Gordon describes as "area of experience just beyond his grasp, which contemporary images of life could not compass " consciousness in time or not in time?
Clearly Eliot is describing two different states of consciousness, and he sets them against each other, preferring the moment in time through which time is conquered. But is the arbour and rose-garden experience mystical, or is the mystical experience consciousness that is not in time? Has he given up the tormenting search for a repeat of the experience described in "Silence?" Whether Gordon would consider "the arbour where the rain beat, the moment in the draughty church at smokefall" contemporary images of life is another question.
I suppose it is fruitless to pursue this, since there is no definitive answer. Having a sense of what Eliot found to be the summum bonum of life would however help one to interpret all of the work leading up to the 4 Qts. I cannot help but suspect that the Neo-Platonic strain that informs Christian mysticism figures into this passage. Diana

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