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Well, there is Wallace Stevens:  There are many truths but they are not part of a Truth.  (from memory but the right meaning)

I put nothing in Eliot's mouth; all the quotations are there.  He is not consistent in much of any of his pronouncements.  For example, "But what a poem means is as much what it means to others as what it means to the author; and indeed, in the course of time a poet may become merely a reader in respect to his own works, forgetting his original meaning--or without forgetting, merely changing.  So that, when Mr. Richards asserts that THE WASTE LAND effects 'a complete severance between poetry and all beliefs' I am no better qualified to say No! than is any other reader."

He qualifies this by saying he "thinks" either Richards is wrong or he does not understand Richards, but that is merely his acknowldgement that he is one reader among others.

Would it be at all possible to say something from your point of view without sniping at me because you disagree?  It would be an interesting experiment--especially given that you among others pretend I make absolute assertions and you do not, while you are in the midst of making them on a regular basis--as below.  "We" do not assume there is always a "right" answer:  that is an assumption of absolute knowledge for all.  Since I do not assume it, and many others do not assume it, and one of them seems to be Eliot in at least some of his personae, you seem to be mistaken.
Nancy


>>> Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]> 04/01/08 12:05 PM >>>
Although you are putting Gish-ian assumptions into Eliot's mouth, nothing 
here contradicts Eliot's assertion that a poem has absolute meaning. And 
the fact that we can dispute meaning is an early indicator of this truth, 
rather than the idea that the text would have to be sufficient. We assume 
in the dispute that there is a right answer. If it is not true, why dispute?

Ken A

At 11:10 AM 4/1/2008, Nancy Gish wrote:
>Eliot said many things, very often contradictory; any one statement is not 
>an absolute Eliot even.
>
>If there were such a thing as absolute meaning in words, there would be no 
>need for a Supreme Court or for any kind of religious figure because the 
>text would be sufficient.  An author may have an intention--though as 
>Eliot notes in many cases, even they may not be conscious of it--but it 
>can only be put down in words that "slip, slide, will not stay still."
>
>It is not only theorists of most of the 20th and 21st century who 
>recognize the slippage of language: it is Eliot over and over.  Diana, 
>since you read this material, I assume you question the notion that any 
>absolute meaning can be simply inscribed by an author who consciously 
>knows exactly what it is and makes it total and absolute--contra 4Q and 
>all Eliot's comments on the subconscious and/or disease pushing into language.
>Cheers,
>Nancy
>
> >>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 04/01/08 10:22 AM >>>
>
>
>
>Dear CR: Presumably Eliot felt the author would be the source of that 
>"absolute meaning?" Diana
>
>Incidentally, Eliot once explained (to Philip Mairet, 31 October, 1956; 
>the collection of Violet Welton) that, even if a poem meant different 
>things to different readers, it was still necessary to assert its 
>'absolute' meaning. [Peter Ackroyd, T.S. Eliot: A Life, p.80]
>
>CR
>                                       Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>While trying to find the line about the rhythmical grumbling, I chanced on 
>another instead--the line about distracting the reader that was queried 
>earlier:"The chief use of //the 'meaning' of a poem, in the ordinary 
>sense//, may be (for here again I am speaking of some kinds of poetry and 
>not all) to satisfy one habit of the reader, to keep his mind diverted and 
>quiet, while the poem does its work upon him: much as the imaginary 
>burglar is always provided with a bit of nice meat for the house-dog."It 
>is in the conclusion to THE USE OF POETRY AND THE USE OF CRITICISM 
>(1933;London: Faber and Faber, 1964), 151.//I hope whoever was looking for 
>it gets this.//
>Nancy
>
>Of course, those who look for it "in the ordinary sense" get this, and 
>this only.
>
>CR
>
>
>
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