And he: 'I am not eager to rehearse
My thoughts and theory which you have forgotten.
Carrol Cox wrote:
> Say that homosexuality is hovering around the passage. It's still
> unclear what work it is doing there. How, for example,
> does it link to the interesting distinction between "thought"
> and "theory." (If they aren't distinguished, then "though and theory"
> is mere filler.) For that reference T.E. Hulme comes to mind,
> of whom it could easily be said that his thought had served
> its purpose and could be forgotten. Is he part of the compound?
And CR wrote:
> I guess Eliot's "theoretical", Biblical notions about the fallen
> state of man get confirmed/ratified in his "experience"
> (weighing heavy in his "thoughts") only to reinforce his belief in them.
I confess my ignorance of the work of T.E. Hulme, so I can't comment on that.
As to the rest of your post, I basically agree with CR. I think that the "theory" is religious theory that says certain things are sins (resulting in eternal damnation), while the "thoughts" are the human temptations and desires that are drawn to the sinful actions even when the wretched cost to the eternal soul is painfully known to the sinner.
That's the abstract, cerebral reading of the lines.
The more poignant reading (to me) is that the narrator is genuinely drawn to this particular sin (as was Brunetto Latini in Canto XV). The LG lines:
"So I assumed a double part, and cried
And heard another's voice cry: 'What! are _you_ here?' "
remind us of the unbearable sadness of meeting a friend who is now eternally damned for this sin, and is even more powerful because _both_ men are damned (". . . I assumed a double part").
In other words, I think the scene calls for the depiction of SOME sin to show the folly of humankind, but TSE has chosen THIS PARTICULAR sin for whatever personal reasons made it meaningful to him. Without being too cute about it, let's assume for the sake of argument that the narrator is homosexual and is therefore worried about being damned before God, while at the same time is unmistakably drawn to this sin (like Brunetto). The narrator is told he will hear some wisdom from the compound ghost:
"Let me disclose the gifts reserved for age
To set a crown upon your lifetime's effort."
But the "gifts" are these:
"First, the cold friction of expiring sense. . .
Second, the conscious impotence of rage
At human folly. . .
And last, the rending pain of re-enactment
Of all that you have done, and been; the shame
Of motives late revealed, and the awareness
Of things ill done and done to others' harm
Which once you took for exercise of virtue.
Then fools' approval stings, and honour stains."
All that is left is repentance and (the hope of) divine forgiveness:
"From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit
Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire
Where you must move in measure, like a dancer.' "
That's what I think is happening in this part of LG.
As I mentioned before, I think this topic in Eliot goes back at least as far as Prufrock. To me it's no accident that, though Prufrock has heard the mermaids singing, he confesses that "I do not think that they will sing to me."
-- Tom --
Your remarks are addressed to Tom Colket, Carrol -- you will both
kindly excuse me -- I'm in such a rush, suddenly.
I guess Eliot's "theoretical", Biblical notions about the fallen state of man
get confirmed/ratified in his "experience" (weighing heavy in his "thoughts")
only to reinforce his belief in them.
Incidentally, in Ash-Wednesday, Eliot was to write :
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again*
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us
Actually, the rehearsing of "thought" and "theory" has gone on unabatedly
throughout -- though its implications are multifarious.
--- On Mon, 12/15/08, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>