Nancy, myths seem to be patterns or figures ordered by powerful unconscious forces that are common to a society or even collectively shared across cultural and historical boundaries. As you know, the work of Frazier, Weston, Jung, Campbell and other mythologists have brought myths to the attention of artists, who use them as points of departure for contemporary work. A basic example is John Updike's book The Centaur, which treats the life of a schoolteacher in mythic terms, a more flamboyant example is of course Joyce's Ulysses

It seems to me that Eliot was able to dredge up material that is usually outside of everyday awareness by means of both mythology and free association. How free his associations were is the question. He was no André Breton writing whatever came into his head. But his tropes often express the narrator's mood, sometimes seemingly without the narrator's being aware that he even has a mood, by means of the associations made. Can Prufrock see the evening as anything but etherized, paralyzed, stretched out passively waiting to be operated on? The evening in that passage is not a mythic figure, but an association that is personal to the narrator, and expresses a psychic state over which he has no conscious control. Or at least it may be said that Prufrock is unaware of another way of seeing the evening, so possessed is he by his mood.

Sometimes it seems that Eliot's work exposes elements in his psyche of which he is unaware! Using myths protects the author from exposing personal material by means of lapses linguae.



From:  Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  Re: The Stetson Passage in TWL
Date:  Mon, 11 Jun 2007 11:04:18 -0400
I don't think it is clear what is meant in either post by "the
unconscious."  Carrol acknowledges unconscious processes, so why not the
unconscious? Diana speaks of "ordering the unconscious" but not of the
nature or individuality of it.  This is a very interesting question, and
I would be interested in definitions from both of you.  It is also
unclear in general how to distinguish the subconscious and the
unconscious.  Freud stuck to the latter, but Janet used the former more.
  And their relation to the conscious is complicated.

Eliot, in TWL, clearly is drawing on many images and feelings that are
not simply rational or intentional.  I would say they are from the
subconscious.  Certainly his own later comments on how it was produced
make claim to non-conscious sources.  How do your definitions work on

Carrol, you imply by your disavowal of the unconcscious that all of our
mental processes take place within our conscious awareness. Diana


From:  Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  Re: The Stetson Passage in TWL
Date:  Sun, 10 Jun 2007 09:33:01 -0500
Diana Manister wrote:
> Nancy, I sometimes think that myths are so often cited in poetry
> because they order the unconscious

About the only widely believed myth that is sillier than The Trinity is
The Unconscious as an entity. There are unconscious processes but when I
come across references to "The Unconscious" I just stop reading for only
silliness is apt to follow.


>>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 06/11/07 9:29 AM >>>

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