It doesn't denigrate psychology to point out that it is misapplied to Eliot's poetry. Long explanations aren't necessary; I'm aware of those facts. If you want to understand Eliot's poetry as poetry, you will not be applying "psychological technical" terms to it, casually or otherwise. They do not, in effect, get you into the poetry.
The psychological term is one Eliot himself studied, knew, and frequently used in the term "dissociation." Moreover, in the 1910s and 1920s it was a topic of widespread interest, especially because of the War, and Eliot himself went to a psychologist (Vittoz) who wrote that there were two separate brains--it's too long to explain but you can find it in my article. That's where he was when he was composing TWL. Denigrating psychologists is, in this case, not simply a bias, it is historically inaccurate about what was being discussed and made a personal choice by Eliot. I see a great deal wrong with using it casually, so we will have to agree to disagree.
Nancy>>> Ken Armstrong 10/22/11 3:56 PM >>>
Actually, CR did define his use of the term: "Maybe his
characters are "doubles" in the sense that he can identify himself with them, at least
imaginatively. So Eliot's mode, I should say, is not one of satire but one of empathy."
"Imaginatively" at least gets us off on the right foot, where psychologisms seem more likely to deter and detour understanding, not to say to delete it altogether. Whether or not I agree with CR on where he takes this usage, I see nothing wrong with it applied to Eliot's poetry and am inclined to think it more apropos than the psychologically technical term which exists, after all, for a different purpose. As Guy Brown pointed out in his reading of Burbank:Bleistein, that poem is a poem of masks in the city of masks at carnival time:
"The poem is set in or initiated by a 'mask'--'Tra-la-la-la...' and
(especially) Marsten’s mask (epigraph) -- in the city of masks, at carnival,
in the city of carnival (latter day Rio & New Orleans quasi-octoberfests not
withstanding). *It* is a mask."
Whether or not you agree with that rendering, this is not a mask for a psychological assessment. Or at any rate, a psychological assessment will not get you into the poetic purpose of either the poem as a mask or its masks of Bleistein, Burbank, Klein, Volupine, et al; they are of a different order. When Eliot early on said that poems should be read as poetry and not psychology, sociology, etc., he was not trying to hide but to be helpful, or at any rate accurate.
On 10/22/2011 12:37 PM, Nancy Gish wrote:
Doubles do not imply empathy. I have studied the phenomenon for years and written about it several times. Often the double is the "other" within for whom one feels revulsion. "Think Jekyll and Hyde or--more academically--The Dissociation of a Personality, or William James, whose work on this Eliot read, or the doubling common to "hysterical" WWI soldiers. I only use quotation marks because it got renamed "shell shock," but they were initially diagonosed as hysterics.
Or read the introduction to Peter Nicholls'sModernism. Or--if you want to be open to anything I say, read my article in Gender, Desire, and Sexuality on dissociation.
If you are going to use technical, psychological terms, they need to be based on the history and meaning of the word and not simply popular and undefined notions.