This is a fascinating and serious discussion I have entirely missed because I have been performing in As You Like It for two weeks. Today is our last performance, so I want to address several things later. But although I agree with nearly all of Carrol's historical analysis, I disagree that rape only happens if it is perceived to be rape. That is simply false. When women (or slaves or minorities or any group that is systematically oppressed) buy into the only definitions culturally available, and take on as true their own fault or inferiority, it has far more serious consequences and psychological damage than simply acceptance of what they also assume to be true because a new word has not yet been coined and the only available words are those used by rapists, accepters of rape, enslavers, and discriminators. I wonder if Rand Paul thinks the inability of African-Americans even to travel safely in places where they were systematically excluded from hotels, restaurants, toilets, drinking fountains, did not happen until use of space for the public was named "civil rights." Why then did Bessie Smith, the greatest of the 1920s blues singers, buy an entire railroad car to be able to travel? She knew pretty well what was happening to her, contemporary language or not.
Also, I agree with Diana and Carrol that "human" and "civilized" are constructs that unfortunately are also framed in contexts that exclude masses so that they can be made "de-" and thus not counted in the problem.
>>> Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]
> 05/23/10 11:23 AM >>>
Diana Manister wrote:
> Yes dehumanized. De-civilized too, if you will,
"decivilized" (which is also not Eliot's word) is an even more
inappropriate metaphor than dehumanized. The behavior of the clerk is
only possible within civilization! For one thing, even in a
pre-capitalist class societies she would not have been living alone or
preparing her own meal. Those tins involved international commerce.
Moreover, the entire episode presupposes the atomized social relations
which appeared embryonically in the 175th-c (and Milton with amazing
prescience grasped) and only fully (and only in England & the U.S.) in
the 19th-c. They were only beginning to develop in France & Germany (and
this enters into the causes of WW1).
So whatever the young man and woman are or are not, they are highly
civilized -- and surely Eliot had enough of an historical sense and was
precise enough in his language (even the silent language of thought and
intention) that he would never have seen these characters as
de-ciivilized. These vague, sloppy categories introduced by readers
rather than the poem trivialize the whole poem.