Dear Terry,

Apparently this doesn't meet your criterion for sarcasm:

"Sometimes, Diana, I think you mean to be playing Dick Martin to anyone else's Dan Rowan. "

Ken A"

Nitpicking my use of a common expression is silly. Eliot did not overthink everything, obviously, or he would not have made it to his office every day. The quote Peter posted is Jesuitical in it's convolutions however. Eliot knew how thinking can inhibit ordinary satisfactions or he would not have been capable of making Prufrock so convincing.

Are you going to preach at Ken now, or do you believe only women are sarcastic?


Sent from my iPod

On Apr 2, 2010, at 3:45 PM, Terry Traynor <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


You said:

>Eliot himself made many statements within and without 

>his work to support my view that he over-thought everything.

Is it safe to assume that you are exaggerating when you say "everything"? If all the poems he wrote were "over-thought," they might still be interesting, but none of them would qualify as the literary masterpieces they are.

>He was a genius intellectually and artistically and a mess

>as a human being for most of his life.

If his poems are works of artistic genius, what difference does it make if most of his life was a mess or not? We read his poems; we don't live his life or interact with him personally.

Please note: I'm not contesting the idea that learning about a poet's life can sometimes help us make sense of difficult parts of the poems. My point is that for the purposes of literary criticism and appreciation, biography is just a tool to illuminate the poems. Saying that Eliot "over-thought everything" and spent most of his life as "a mess" does nothing to illuminate the poems. 

>What is your contention? That Eliot was a well-rounded,

>sexually and emotionally fulfilled and free person? 

Diana, your sarcasm allows no middle ground: Anyone who doesn't believe that Eliot was "a mess as a human being for most of his life" must be foolish enough to believe that he escaped the human condition altogether (because no human is ever "emotionally free"). I wish you would refrain from sarcasm. Its only purpose is to belittle the person you're addressing. It also lands you in the very dichotomous position you repeatedly scorn.