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Okay, I'm absolutely at a loss with the Absolute in poetry or philosophy
and I haven't made any attempt to use the posts with these threads
to learn any more about it.  However, in other recent reading, I've
come across something that may be pertinent and I'm supplying a good
clip of it here for whatever use it may be to anyone else.

Regards,
     Rick Parker



James Longenbach
The Waste Land: Beyond the Frontier
in
Harold Bloom's
T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land


... To investigate the whole truth of The Waste Land we must turn to the
concerns Eliot held during the actual gestation period of the poem. A
fair place to begin, once again, is with Bradley.

    While Eliot’s shorter poems are spoken by personae who cannot develop
their perceptions of the world into a "system," The Waste Land is an
attempt to present an interpretation of historical knowledge from a
"systematic" point of view. Although he does not capitalize upon Eliot’s
use of the "systematic" nature of truth in his discussion of The Waste
Land, Michael Levenson has shown how Eliot’s emphasis upon the
importance of transcending individual points of view for a vision of
wholeness became one of the structural principles of the poem.  In his
dissertation, Eliot’s discussion of transcendence emphasizes the
irrationality and painfulness of the process:
    for the life of a soul does not consist in the contemplation of one
    consistent world but in the painful task of unifying (to a greater or
    less extent) jarring and incompatible ones, and passing, when possible,
    from two or more discordant viewpoints to a higher which shall somehow
    include and transmute them. (KE,147–148)
This passage is central to Eliot’s critique of Bradley’s concept of the
Absolute(the ultimate synthesis of all diversity, difference, and
contradiction). In "Leibniz’ Monads and Bradley’s Finite Centres,"
published in the Monist in 1916, Eliot points out that Bradley’s
Absolute "responds only to an imaginary demand of thought, and satisfies
only an imaginary demand of feeling.  Pretending to be something which
makes finite centres cohere, it turns out to be merely the assertion
that they do" (KE, 202). Instead of Bradley’s Absolute, Eliot proposes
his own theory of the unification of points of view: "if one recognizes
two points of view which are quite irreconcilable and yet melt into each
other, this theory [of the Absolute] is quite superfluous." In his
dissertation Eliot was thinking along the same lines when he wrote that
"the pre-established harmony [of the Absolute] is unnecessary if we
recognize that the monads [of individual experience] are not wholly
distinct" (KE, 206, 147). Because individual points of view are not
completely distinct, the painful task of unification becomes possible
without relying on the easy consolations of the Absolute.



On 9/22/2011 3:40 AM, Chokh Raj wrote:
> 'The Waste Land' as an 'absolutist' poem
> AND if the Absolute is so tellingly (if not terribly, with its DA Da Da)
> voluble at the close of the poem, asserting itself rather vehemently, so
> does it do as the poem unfolds at its outset:
> /What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
> Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
> //You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
> A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
> And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
> And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
> There is shadow under this red rock,
> (Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
> And I will show you something different from either
> Your shadow at morning striding behind you
> Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
> I will show you fear in a handful of dust. /
> //
> In fact, the Absolute looms rather large, making its presence felt
> across the wasteland's "panorama of futility and anarchy". It forms a
> constant backdrop to the drama that plays itself out rather grimly. And
> it (the Absolute) emerges from the backdrop to speak, now in this, now
> in that voice.
> //
> /Frisch weht der Wind
> Der Heimat zu,
> Mein Irisch Kind,
> Wo weilest du? /
> /HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME/
> //
> Its "inviolable voice" is heard through and through, whether or not we
> choose to hear it.
> //
> /The wind / Crosses the brown land, unheard./
> It makes its presence felt, rather ominously, in the course of the
> poem's last movement:
> /Who is the third who walks always beside you?
> When I count, there are only you and I together
> But when I look ahead up the white road
> There is always another one walking beside you
> Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
> I do not know whether a man or a woman
> —But who is that on the other side of you?/
> Well, I've only barely touched the outlines of this subject, in passing,
> in a rather random fashion. But you, readers, you can watch its
> enactment in the poem, both in its tangible and intangible form. The
> Absolute is both most explicit and implict -- implicit in the allusions
> that incessantly remind you of its implacable presence.
> IMHO, 'The Waste Land', by far, may be reckoned as one of the most
> absolutist of poems. It is here, more than anywhere else in Eliot's
> poetry, that one can acutely feel "a sense of the timeless as well as of
> the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together".
> Thanks,
> CR