Hi Nancy
Fair enough I guess but I did look up the etymology and it is interesting and not unequivocally derogatory. Although it depends on how you take the position of being crushed or flattened or to be like water or to be low and broad. With respect to Chritianity I should have thought it was sound theologically that Christ be seen thus. I remove myself from further debate on that point because I am not a believer but I attend weekly Mass with my wife  and I would say that there seems a fair bit of engagement with a Christ completely partaking of the human condition in its degradations.  Perhaps in 1920 not so? The enthusiasts for Christ the King today wouldnt perhaps wear it. With respect to Christ as the Jew of the poem I find it hard to accept at all but am not closed to the proposition. I cant see however that a poem which tells me someone is squatting on the sill or that there's a goat in the field overhead is  not partaking a little of riddle- fying and I dont think code breaking is a trivial human activity.
Cheers Pete
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Nancy Gish
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, October 21, 2011 3:27 PM
Subject: Re: The Jew in Eliot's poetry (anti-semitism and objective correlative)

These pictures are fascinating, but none is of a squatting position.  Has anyone bothered to look up that word?  I have never seen it used in a positive, let alone praising way.  To apply it to Jesus seems astonishing. There is nothing at all in that degrading image to suggest Christ in a type of WWI derelict brothel just because Christ turns up later in the poem.  And I really don't see the need ro address whether flesh and blood can squat on window sills; of course they can. It would take very little balance, or it could be a wide opening. Or it can simply be Gerontion's way of being coarse--as he is.
This exercise in making endless riddles that go nowhere out of the most exacting and careful writer is even more astonishing.  That he said anti-Semitic things is a sad fact about his attitudes; that he was just making endless silly puns makes him look foolish. His poems are brilliant creations of experience and feeling, not arbitrary and pointless cyphers.  Maybe we should find some code-breakers if that is all it is. To idealize Eliot or reduce his poetry to a mass of puns and riddles is not to respect his work.  His poetry is great art.
Also, of course "Dirge" can't be made to sound positive: it is just not there in the language. It's ugly, as is the whole Fresca episode and others that were cut and the Bolo poems and others.  Eliot seemed to like but not publish the extremely crude and mocking.

>>> Tom Colket <[log in to unmask]>10/20/11 11:07 PM >>>
Peter wrote:
P> apart from those historical reconstructions of the crucifixion which the
P> Turin Shroud lunatics enthuse over I am not convinced that Christ squats
P> in crucifixions even in the more recent brutalist stuff.

Perhaps TSE was using the imagery of the "Pensive Christ".


Below is some information (and the web sites), as well as four images (one of them in stained glass).

-- Tom --



The Pensive Christ or Christus im Elend ("Christ in Distress" in German) is a subject in Christian iconography depicting a contemplating Jesus, sitting with his head supported by his hand with the Crown of Thorns and marks of his flagellation. It is therefore a picture of Jesus shortly before his crucifixion, although more an andachtsbilder or devotional subject than intended to show an actual moment in the narrative of the Passion of Christ. The Pensive Christ is much more common in sculpture than in painting, where the similar Man of Sorrows is more often depicted (in this Jesus is shown with the wounds of the crucifixion).

Development of the image

Similar images are known fron Neolithic sculptures in Europe, dating several thousand years before Christ. The first known depictions of the Pensive Christ occur in northern German sculptures from the latter half of the 14th century, taking a pose already found in paintings of the preparations for the crucifixion, where Jesus sits in thought as the soldiers work to raise the cross. Before this the pose had been used for the figure of Job in Distress, according to typology one of the prefigurements of Christ. Art historians link its appearance with the Devotio Moderna (Latin for "modern devotion"), which stressed the human nature of Jesus, a model for the faithful to follow. The image became especially popular in Silesia and Pomerania, and then Poland and Lithuania[3], where it became strongly entrenched in folk art wood carvings by dievdirbiai (Lithuanian folk carvers).

A related image, the Herrgottsruh ("Repose of the Lord" in German), does not have the chin resting on a hand; Christ sits, often with hands crossed in his lap. This appeared in Italian painting at the end of the 14th century, and soon spread to sculpture in southern Germany and Austria.

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin has a similar pose, and may be based on the traditional sculptures.


The attached images:

Pensive_1) Pensive Christ, at Saint Sigsmunt Church in Szydlowiec

Pensive_2) Pensive Christ by Wadys aw Skoczylas

Pensive_3) The Pensive or Worrying Christ

Building Name: Divine Providence Church

Studio Name: Jonynas & Shepherd Art Studio

City: Southfield

Window Shape: 2 (rectangle)

Pensive_4) Pensive Christ with the Arma Christi, German, 1450-60



> Date: Fri, 21 Oct 2011 11:37:54 +1100
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: The Jew in Eliot's poetry (anti-semitism and objective correlative)
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Thanks Ken,
> I suppose I feel that regardless of the glosses I have heard I find a kind
> of unpleasant edge to that line with its stops on the palatal consonants
> which are hard abrupt sounds and I take the line to be antipathetic at some
> level. So I am wondering if the image is in the mind what intellectual
> process would bring one to the word "squat" much in the way "perches' would
> be gentler and sentimental or patronising if it were metrically acceptable
> etc etc.
> Cheers P
> Ps apart from those historical reconstructions of the crucifixion which the
> Turin Shroud lunatics enthuse over I am not convinced that Christ squats in
> crucifixions even in the more recent brutalist stuff. In my childhood he
> never seemed fussed at all and was quite erect but mine was a Roman
> trumphalist version I admit.
> P
> -----Original Message-----
> From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
> Of Ken Armstrong
> Sent: Friday, 21 October 2011 11:06 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: The Jew in Eliot's poetry (anti-semitism and objective
> correlative)
> Peter Dillane wrote:
> > Interesting thought Rickard; If a poet were formulating an image starting
> > with a window and its attendant architecture a figure of a person how do
> > you decide on the word for what the figure does.
> >
> > In the plastic arts people often start with a structural obligation either
> > in a commissioned work or because they have say an oblong canvas or they
> are
> > working with found objects.
> >
> > So just like the Maori in the coin where do you think the squatting comes
> in
> > - at the start of the thought or a word choice once the figure is imagined
> > but needs to be concisely separated from part of any scene which might be
> > part of the window itself.
> >
> Pete and Rickard,
> If you mean where does the squatting come in in the composition of
> Gerontion, it might be useful to point out that Eliot was not under any
> such material restrictions regardless of when the thought struck him. If
> he wanted to portray a flesh and blood person, he could easily have
> picked a place where such a person would be; not squatting in a window.
> The figure of Christ crucified or the Passion might be a scene of him
> squatting, whether you've seen that image or not (Eliot is known to have
> visited a lot of churches and could easily be thought to have an
> extensive catalog of such images). And unless someone pipes up to say
> that yes, it's a widely known fact and they've seen Jewish landlords or
> landlords in general squatting in windows, I don't think there is any
> real reason to think that the Jew in the poem is a flesh and blood person.
> > I see Perloff's argument as being a valid reading (but I haven't taken
> > it as my reading.) The landlord would be a private symbol of Eliot's
> > outsideness, an uncomfortable position.
> >
> I don't understand the distinction, valid reading but not yours.
> What does valid mean if it doesn't mean you incorporate it into your
> reading? That it's possible but not necessarily so?
> My own take on Perloff, besides her previously demonstrated
> unreliability in assessing Eliot, is that she is psychologizing the
> poem where there is no compelling reason to do so, except as she is
> willy nilly trying to shore up a prejudice about Eliot and his poetry.
> And of course that is what I think she is doing.
> > I can't remember seeing either a flesh and blood person or a symbol
> squatting in a window though I have seen cymbals squinting through a
> >
> > window.
> cymbals? squinting? Hmmm. I've seen them glinting with a bang, not a
> whimper, but never squinting....
> Ken A