Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> wrote: .
I am trying to analyze how his poetry manages to be so emotionally moving when he takes emotional sterility, the feeling of being neither alive nor
dead, as his subject. How can a poet so reticent about expressing
emotion express it so effectively? As a poet I would like to know how
he manages that.  Diana.
 
Many thanks, Diana, for your thought-provoking question.  It made me
sit back and contemplate Eliot's "emotion of art" -- not without some
find -- it might look a little tedious, though.
 
Let's first take into account a definition of "emotion" at the following
link. Interestingly, it connects "emotion" to "memory" -- a dimension
which is significant in Eliot's context. 

http://www.affectivetherapy.co.uk/news.htm

EMOTION AFFECT AND FEELING 

These three words are closely associated and frequently used within
the same context.
 
When we are affected by something we experience an emotion as a result.
Affect is a biological pattern of events, triggered by a stimulus. Affects are
innate, each one having its own exact programme.
 
Feeling is about the awareness of an affect and is an ability to
appreciate and comprehend. The ability to feel a particular affect
may be switched off by a distraction or denied by a cultural upbringing.
The familiar 'stiff upper lip' attitude is a learned and practiced device
to avoid acknowledgement and a display of feeling.
 
Emotion adds another dimension to this established pattern. Every time
an individual experiences an affect it is logged and filed away in the
memory. The memory of previous experiences is added to the feeling,
amplifying the awareness, to create the emotion.
 
To summarise an affect is a biological, innate, instinctive response
to a stimulus and is fleeting, very brief.  It becomes a feeling
through awareness and knowledge and an emotion by the additional
recall of previous experience from memory.
 
--------------

In being connected to "memory", the artistic emotion subsumes
"a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence".
Furthermore, as a result of this interaction with other feelings, it becomes
the transmuted "emotion of art".
 
It should be exceedingly illuminating to read the following excerpts
from 'Tradition and the Individual Talent' to understand and appreciate
Eliot's notion of the artistic emotion.  It closely relates to his "process of depersonalization and its relation to the sense of tradition".
 
Here's an instance of how "memory" in terms of Spenser's 'Prothalamion' 
["The nymphs"] transmutes the immediate emotion associated with the
Thames [vis-a-vis its present state of pollution], and lends it its intensity.
[An answer to your question, Diana.]
 
"By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept . .
 Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
 Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long."
 
Regards.
 
~ CR
 
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EXCERPTS FROM 'TRADITION AND THE INDIVIDUAL TALENT'
[emphasis mine]
 
 
[Tradition] involves, in the first place, the historical sense, which
we may call nearly indispensable to anyone who would continue to be
a poet beyond his twenty-fifth year; and the historical sense involves
a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence;
the historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation
in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe
from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has
a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order. This historical
sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the
timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional.
And it is at the same time what makes a writer most acutely conscious of his
place in time, of his contemporaneity.
 
No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone.
His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to
the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him,
for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of æsthetic, not merely historical, criticism.... And the poet who is aware of
this will be aware of great difficulties and responsibilities.
 
...the difference between the present and the past is that the conscious
present is an awareness of the past in a way and to an extent which
the past's awareness of itself cannot show.
 
What happens is a continual surrender of himself as he is at the
moment to something which is more valuable. The progress of an artist
is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.
 
There remains to define this process of depersonalization and its
relation to the sense of tradition.
 
 In the last article I tried to point out the importance of the relation
of the poem to other poems by other authors, and suggested the conception
of poetry as a living whole of all the poetry that has ever been written.
 
-----
 
[The] mind of the mature poet differs from that of the immature one...
by being a more finely perfected medium in which special, or very varied,
feelings are at liberty to enter into new combinations.
 
[The] more perfect the artist,...the more perfectly will the mind
digest and transmute the passions which are its material.
 
The experience, you will notice, the elements which enter the presence
of the transforming catalyst, are of two kinds: emotions and feelings.
The effect of a work of art upon the person who enjoys it is an
experience different in kind from any experience not of art. It may be
formed out of one emotion, or may be a combination of several; and
various feelings, inhering for the writer in particular words or phrases
or images, may be added to compose the final result.
 
 Or great poetry may be made without the direct use of any emotion
whatever: composed out of feelings solely. Canto XV of the Inferno
(Brunetto Latini) is a working up of the emotion evident in the situation;
but the effect, though single as that of any work of art, is obtained by considerable complexity of detail. The last quatrain gives an image, a
feeling attaching to an image, which "came," which did not develop
simply out of what precedes, but which was probably in suspension in
the poet's mind until the proper combination arrived for it to add
itself to.
 
The poet's mind is in fact a receptacle for seizing and storing up
numberless feelings, phrases, images, which remain there until all
the particles which can unite to form a new compound are present
together.
 
-----
 
If you compare several representative passages of the greatest poetry
you see how great is the variety of types of combination, and also how
completely any semi-ethical criterion of "sublimity" misses the mark.
For it is not the "greatness," the intensity, of the emotions, the
components, but the intensity of the artistic process, the pressure,
so to speak, under which the fusion takes place, that counts.
 
The episode of Paolo and Francesca employs a definite emotion,
but the intensity of the poetry is something quite different from
whatever intensity in the supposed experience it may give the
impression of. It is no more intense, furthermore, than Canto XXVI,
the voyage of Ulysses, which has not the direct dependence upon an
emotion. Great variety is possible in the process of transmution of
emotion: the murder of Agamemnon, or the agony of Othello, gives an
artistic effect apparently closer to a possible original than the scenes
from Dante. In the Agamemnon, the artistic emotion approximates
to the emotion of an actual spectator; in Othello to the emotion
of the protagonist himself. But the difference between art and
the event is always absolute; the combination which is the murder of
Agamemnon is probably as complex as that which is the voyage of
Ulysses. In either case there has been a fusion of elements.
The ode of Keats contains a number of feelings which have nothing
particular to do with the nightingale, but which the nightingale,
partly, perhaps, because of its attractive name, and partly because
of its reputation, served to bring together.
 
-----
 
I will quote a passage which is unfamiliar enough to be regarded with
fresh attention in the light—or darkness—of these observations:
And now methinks I could e'en chide myself
For doating on her beauty, though her death
Shall be revenged after no common action.
Does the silkworm expend her yellow labours
For thee? For thee does she undo herself?
Are lordships sold to maintain ladyships
For the poor benefit of a bewildering minute?
Why does yon fellow falsify highways,
And put his life between the judge's lips,
To refine such a thing—keeps horse and men
To beat their valours for her?...

In this passage (as is evident if it is taken in its context) there is a
combination of positive and negative emotions: an intensely strong
attraction toward beauty and an equally intense fascination by the
ugliness which is contrasted with it and which destroys it. This balance
of contrasted emotion is in the dramatic situation to which the speech
is pertinent, but that situation alone is inadequate to it. This is, so to
speak, the structural emotion, provided by the drama. But the whole
effect, the dominant tone, is due to the fact that a number of
floating feelings, having an affinity to this emotion by no means
superficially evident, have combined with it to give us
a new art emotion.
 
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