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CR wrote:
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A possible source of the poet's account of Bleistein could be, I visualize, some story narrated by the boatman who "smiles" -- of one Bleistein, of his luxuriously voluptuous lifestyle as a Venetian merchant, who was once at Rialto, and who made lots of money in fur, and who died of drowning, his slimy body recovered from the river, his protruding eye stuck with the magnificence of Venice. Some said he was Viennese, some Semite, some said he was from Chicago -- "A saggy bending of the knees / And elbows, with the palms turned out" is how the boatman described his dead body. Well, just a hunch
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CR:

I'm not sure what to make of your post. If you're just saying that it's possible that Eliot heard an account by a gondolier of a man who drowned, was a Venetian merchant, made money by selling furs, had a protrusive eye, had people saying he was from Chicago, or was Viennese, and was a Semite, etc, etc, etc, well, I guess he could have heard a story filled with all those odd specifics. (By the way, you left out that the gondolier said the man was somehow associated with cigars).

But what are you getting at? Your hunch seems to just recount, as prose, all the specific details given in the poem. How is this different from saying that you have a hunch that "Death by Water" may have a source in a newspaper story about a sailor who liked seagulls and liked making profits and who drowned about two weeks ago when he got sucked into a whirlpool?

I'm not understanding what you think is interesting or useful about taking the details from TSE's poems and just stating that they could be factual events. Yes , they could be, but so what? I'm not asking this to denigrate your post: I'm asking this because I don't understand what point you are making.

-- Tom --

 


Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2011 06:23:11 -0700
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: The Jew in Eliot's Poetry
To: [log in to unmask]

And mark, what a rich and resonant emblem it makes, this transmutation
of a possible 'fact' into 'artifact':
 
"A lustreless protrusive eye
 Stares from the protozoic slime
 At a perspective of Canaletto." 
 
And what a resonance it has -- an immortal resonance of art! 
It goes much beyond its source in fact to acquire an independent life
of its own.
 
Those are, indeed, metaphoric "pearls" that were merely his "eyes".
 
It should be an express lesson, therefore, to those who reduce Eliot's poetry to his life.
Life is certainly the basis on which we base our perceptions -- poetic creativity has
its wellsprings there. But what endures is what the mind of the poet creates from
what the man suffers. The distinction is paramount in any consideration of art. 
 
Thanks,
 CR 

From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, October 17, 2011 8:36 AM
Subject: Re: The Jew in Eliot's Poetry

Eliot's poetry and the transmutation of facts into artifacts
 
There is ample evidence that shows the factual basis of Eliot's poetry --
that shows how certain 'facts' are carried alive into the poet's imagination
and composed into poetry.
 
Thus, 'Prufrock 1917' is the result of certain 'Observations'.
 
And, in TWL, the incidences of the poet's encounter with Marie, with the 'Hyacinth girl',
of Lil as narrated by the maid servant, the antarctic team's illusion of 'the third' etc. etc.
 
I'm more and more convinced of the possibility of some such factual basis of "Bleistein".
 
CR
 

From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, October 17, 2011 12:59 AM
Subject: Re: The Jew in Eliot's Poetry

But this or such was Bleistein’s way: 
  A saggy bending of the knees 
And elbows, with the palms turned out,  
  Chicago Semite Viennese. 
 
A lustreless protrusive eye 
  Stares from the protozoic slime 
At a perspective of Canaletto.
 
A possible source of the poet's account of Bleistein could be, I visualize, some story
narrated by the boatman who "smiles" -- of one Bleistein, of his luxuriously voluptuous
lifestyle as a Venetian merchant, who was once at Rialto, and who made lots of money
in fur, and who died of drowning, his slimy body recovered from the river, his protruding
eye stuck with the magnificence of Venice. Some said he was Viennese, some Semite,
some said he was from Chicago -- "A saggy bending of the knees / And elbows, with the
palms turned out" is how the boatman described his dead body. Well, just a hunch.
 
CR
 
From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, October 16, 2011 10:02 PM
Subject: Re: The Jew in Eliot's Poetry

    "A lustreless protrusive eye
     Stares from the protozoic slime
     At a perspective of Canaletto."
 
cf.  "Daffodil bulbs instead of balls   
      Stared from the sockets of the eyes! 
      He knew that thought clings round dead limbs  
      Tightening its lusts and luxuries."
  
      (Whispers of Immortality)
 
CR
 
From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, October 15, 2011 6:21 AM
Subject: Re: The Jew in Eliot's Poetry

 death by water
 
-----
 
"Defunctive music under sea" -- "Tra-la-la-la-la-la-laire"
"goats and monkeys, with such hair too!" --
a tale of sordid commerce mating with unbridled lust.
 
-----
 
"Her shuttered barge / Burned on the water all the day."
 
If "this or such" was Bleistein's way, then "this or such" was Eugenides' way too,
the Smyrna merchant, the "one-eyed" merchant (literally or metaphorically),
spreading the homosexual cult of sterility instead of the mystical cult of fertility:
 
"Mr Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant
Unshaven, with a pocket full of currants
C. i. f. London: documents at sight,
Asked me in demotic French
To luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel
Followed by a week-end at the Metropole."
 
Hence the admonishment, addressed equally to both the Gentile and the Jew:
 
                       "Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you."
 
For the consequences to both shall be the same. To quote from 'Gerontion',
 
"Gull against the wind, in the windy straits
Of Belle Isle, or running on the Horn,
White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims,
And an old man driven by the Trades
To a a sleepy corner."
 
-- the "sleepy corner", the grave -- death equals all.
 
//What is left, in each case, is a symbol -- "A symbol perfected in death":
"A lustreless protrusive eye" staring from the grave, "from the protozoic slime",
at "a perspective of Canaletto".// As the poet remarks in ''Little Gidding':
 
"These men, and those who opposed them
And those whom they opposed
Accept the constitution of silence
And are folded in a single party."
 
Hence the chorus-like refrain (cf. 'Dans le Restaurant') :
 
"Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep seas swell
And the profit and loss.
A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool."
 
CR
 
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From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2011 2:55 PM
Subject: Re: The Jew in Eliot's poetry (was Re: Eliot and literary culture)
 
//Certainly, Rick. They all meld into one.//