Jerry -- thanks.
>he was always asked for miracle stories, which he said were a sign
>along the non-rational path that could prevent enlightenment if the
>disciple got attached to them.
>I see a connection here to Eliot's distinction between signs and wonders.
As I understand it, Buddhism says that _any_thing that a disciple gets attached to could prevent enlightenment. If so, wouldn't distinguishing between one object of attachment (sign) and another (wonder) be irrelevant?
>During and after WWI there was a massive interest in spiritualism,
>seances, and possible "signs" that would allow grieving people to make
>contact with their dead sons and husbands and lovers and brothers.
As you say, Eliot disapproved of the charlatans who took advantage of the situation, but do you think he believed that communicating with the dead was nonetheless possible? I ask because I'm wondering what might be in the mind of a poet (and this pertains not only to Eliot) who addresses a real, not fictive, dead person. Is it just a literary convention? Eliot seems to be trying to communicate with the dead when he doesn't just dedicate his Prufrock book to Jean Verdenal, but follows the dedication with the passage from Dante that says: "Now can you understand the quantity of love that warms me toward you, so that I forget our vanity, and treat the shadows like the solid thing."