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Perhaps Eliot's was of a more puritanical sensibility.
P.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Nancy Gish" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2007 8:14 AM
Subject: Re: Fearing death by water


> I had not thought of it before, but in Dante the sin of lust is in the
> first circle because it is a form of love--though one that he considers
> misguided and sinful.  It is sins of the intellect that send one to the
> 8th and 9th circle.  It is interesting that Eliot, for all his love of
> Dante, does not seem to share that formulation.  The ugliest and most
> disturbing images in his poetry are always about sexuality in one way or
> another--until very late when he gets concerned about Coriolanus and
> Becket.  I'm not saying other sins are not there, just that it is rape
> and disgusting versions of copulation and the horrors of female bodies
> that preoccupy him in early poems.
> Nancy
>
> >>> Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> 08/13/07 11:29 AM >>>
> Diana Manister wrote:
> >
> > Robert, mortification of the flesh is fundamental to Roman
> > Catholicism. One could say it is not the body that is the problem, but
> > rather the body's needs and cravings, but since they only exist in and
> > of the body, your argument seems a bit specious. Diana
>
> Being an atheist by birthright more than merit, I have no dog in this
> race. But the RC, like other human institutions, is a historical process
> and complex of relations, not a metaphysical essence. Thus it is
> misleading to let any one particular strand of the process define the
> whole. In fundamental theory, at least, the doctrine of incarnation (as
> Nancy has mentioned) not only forbids contempt for the body but dictates
> positive cherishing of it. Dante puts sexual lust amongst the lesser
> sins  after all. So while mortification of "the flesh" (which,
> incidentally, is not in principle identical with "the body") is
> certainly endemic in RC practice it is by no means fundamental to its
> theology or its institutional structure. And what one might call
> "principled hatred of the body" is certainly heretical.
>
> To explain the practices which lead so many to perceive "mortification
> of the flesh [as] fundamental" to RC requires historical and social
> rather than theological analysis. I'm rusty on this, but "the flesh"
> cannot be equated with "the body." And the sadistic or merely stupid
> practices of parochial school faculty have other grounds than any
> theological contempt for either flesh or body.
>
> Now a separation of thought and action, with a corresponding valuation
> of mental rather than physical activity is fundamental to class society
> as such -- look up "villain" in the OED. You can see this, for example,
> in the stress on "knowing oneself" in Plato and in the aristocratic
> ethic of ancient Greece. To know oneself was to know one's _place_ in a
> social (and implicitly 'moral') hierarchy. Thus in the Republic, the
> mouthpiece Socrates can acknowledge that it will not be __too_ bad for a
> farmer to become a carpenter, all is brought into chaos when carpenters
> presume to military or political positions. It is misleading to ascribe
> the source of this to Plato, however, for it has manly roots. Here is
> Mencius on the same topic:
>
> ***Why then should you think...that someone who is carrying on the
> government of a kingdom has time also to till the soil? The truth is,
> that some kinds of business are proper to the great and others to the
> small. Even supposing each man could unite in himself all the various
> kinds of skill required in every craft, if he had to make for himself
> everything that he used, this would merely lead to everyone being
> completely prostrate with fatigue. True indeed is the saying, "Some work
> with their minds, others with their bodies. Those who work with their
> minds rule, while those who work with their bodies are ruled. Those who
> are ruled produce food; those who rule are fed." That this is right is
> universally recognized everywhere under Heaven.***
>
> [Not quite _everywhere_; it was challenged by the peasantry and artisans
> of Attica in the 5th century, and it was in response to that threat of
> total chaos that the Platonic philosophy with its hatred of the _demos_
> and its deification of the division of labor arose.]
>
> To bring this back to Eliot. Shakespeare, Austen, Pound ....write so
> well as to justify almost any content; in TWL and 4Q (at least in part)
> Eliot belongs to this company. But he simply does not write well enough
> in The Cocktail Party to make palatable the moral, social, and political
> cesspool of that work.
>
> Carrol
>
>
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