Peter, while Eliot is not above simplistic satire, as evidenced by the excised Fresca section, his treatment of Madam Sosostris is more ambiguous. If her prediction about death by water comes true, as the poem illustrates that it does, than she does have the power of prophecy, but she profanes her gift. Diana

Peter wrote: One could of course simply keep the text in its own
context as a warning from Mad. Sos. to stay away
from water. Maybe that's how she got her bad cold.
I vaguely remember McLuhan's
comment in class
was a chuckling observation about what having a
bad cold said about Mad. Sos's powers. In effect
the whole passage is a satiric comment by Eliot on
the whole occult thing.
 
Cheers,
P.
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Chokh Raj
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, July 29, 2007 9:25 AM
Subject: Re: Water in TWL -- Heraclitus

Thanks for your thought-provoking comments, Barnwell.
 
To me, Ophelia too is swayed by the "waters" of passion
-- and her death by drowning reveals the destructive aspect
of "water" (her passion). The allusion to her at the end of
"A Game of Chess" helps to place the tragedy of Lil and the
lady (with her nerves) in a historical perspective. "Water"
(passion/love) has proved fatal in all these cases.
 
Then, there is the daily "death" of the Thames daughters -- the water
(the passion) which should be life-giving is vitiated -- it has become
destructive.
 
Well, that's how I read it.
 
As for reading Heraclitian flux in the image of Thames, yes, a sense
of the flux of history and time is certainly evident in the image of
"the turning tide" -- "The nymphs are departed" -- "The river bears
no...testimony of summer nights" -- "Southwest wind / Carried down
stream / The peal of bells / White towers / Weialala leia...", as also
in the image of "A current under sea...the whirlpool".
 
Regards,
CR
 
 
Barnwell Black <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
 
Folks,
      One interesting exception to the symbol of water as a purifying agent or as an agent of passion in a positive sense in TWL is T. S. Eliot's use of the words of  Ophelia at the conclusion of "A  Game of Chess" -- "Good night, ladies, good night sweet ladies, good night, good night."  Elizabeth Drew, in her book "T. S. Eliot:The Design of His Poetry," says "The good nights of the group modulate into the voice of the mad Ophelia, the preface to another death by drowning, but a death which is self-destruction, the end of frustrated love, not a baptism and regeneration into a new birth."
      I wonder if the reference to the Thames in "The Fire Sermon" (another water allusion), in addition to being a comment about the decline of Western culture/civilization ("The river sweats oil and tar..."), might not also be an allusion to the philosophy of TSE's "hero of pessimism", Heraclitus, the real Father of Quantum Mechanics -- Heraclitian flux: "a person cannot step into the same river twice." As Bertrand Russell wrote in 1946, "The doctrine of perpetual flux, as taught by Heraclitus, is painful, and science can do nothing to refute it."  -- but poetry can. :-)
Regards,
Barnwell


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