Diana Manister wrote:

> Marcia, if Eliot cut the appearances of water free of each other in a 
> text designed not as a coherent narrative but as a collection of 
> independent referents for the same sign then there is no sum of 
> meaning, only a series of changing meanings for water in different 
> contexts. Diana
And if what you say is so?  Can't a sum be complicated?  You seem to 
confuse sum with homogeneity.  The sum of 4 ducks and 3 pigs is 4 ducks 
and 3 pigs.

I've asked twice what in the poem makes your standard valid.  


> Dear Diana,
>     I have been reading your posts, but still am puzzled.
>     1) What is "a sum of meaning"?  What in the poem indicates that 
> this is a legitimate standard/result/techinique to judge the poem by?
>     2) Granting your analysis below, but still don't understand your 
> arithemtic or the reason for applying it.  Water does give life and 
> take it.  Drought, too, can kill.  How is water, then, "cancelled out"?
>     Perhaps sum of meaning and elements that cancel themselves out and 
> Sosostis .. is stable in herself are part of a discourse I've not yet 
> encountered, but I wonder if your measurement is useful here.  I can't 
> tell, since I don't understand what you mean. 
>     Can't the acute representation of the ambiguity, the multi-valence 
> of the things of the world, stand without adding up to something 
> outside the poem -- a stable or a non-zero figure?
> Best,
> Marcia
> Diana Manister wrote:
>         Eliot's use of water is not ambiguous, but arbitrary. Water is
>         first a death-bringer for the drowned Phoenician sailor, then
>         its lack is death-bringing, dessicating the living. Both water
>         and its absence accomplish the same end, so water at times is
>         its own opposite. But water is presented in a duality with
>         rock, which acts as its opposite: "Here is rock but no water."
>         Then water dripping is life-bringing, and then thunder and the
>         storm, which bring shantih, peace.
>         Perhaps some intricate and convoluted rationale could
>         attribute intratextual consistency to Eliot's use of water,
>         but I'm guessing it would be a stretch. All of the other
>         scenes and images and characters are consistent as to what
>         they offer the narrator, however impossible it is to precisely
>         define what that is. Even Sosostris, about whom I maintain the
>         narrator has mixed feelings, is stable in
>         herself; representing the commercialization and vulgarization
>         of the supernatural. Both  vulgarity and the prophetic gift
>         are present in her as human qualities; Sosostris does not
>         cancel herself out as the use of water does.
>         Dear Diana,
>             My message to you (August 1) seems to have gotten lost.
>         Marcia
>         Diana Manister wrote:
>                 Marcia, the poem's ambiguities contribute to its
>                 appeal, but even the best poems have weak spots, and
>                 Eliot's use of water in TWL seems weak, being so
>                 contradictory and confused that the sum of its meaning
>                 is zero. Diana
>                 <>
>             What in the poem points you towards summing up water's
>             meaning?  I think rather in terms of effects and of
>             changes in those.
>             Best,
>             Marcia
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