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Religion and Literature: A Reader

Ed. Robert Detweiler, David Jaspe 
Westminster John Knox Press, 2000 

an excerpt, p. 10

"[Eliot's] great early and preconversation poem The Waste Land (1922), portraying a godless landscape among other things, helped mark the beginnings of modernism in English literature, while his last poems, The Four Quartets (1943), reflect his later deep adhesion to Christianity, even as they maintain a strong sense of the existential struggle and journey of his early pieces. Indeed, in many ways, Eliot is close to the existentialist arguments of Paul Tillich's The Protestant Era (1957).
In this spirit, Eliot believed that poetry should pose the existential questions, and religion or theology should answer them." 
http://books.google.com/books?id=klIvP2b5l0wC&pg=PA10&lpg=PA10&dq#v=onepage&q&f=false 


De Bailhache, Fresca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled
Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear
In fractured atoms. 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.
 
                    Tenants of the house,
Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season. 

- 'Gerontion'

CR


________________________________
 From: P <[log in to unmask]>
To: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> 
Sent: Saturday, July 21, 2012 12:13 AM
Subject: Re: TS Eliot: The Existential Angst
 

Eliot's conversion is nearly always seen in a vacuum. In fact there were several conversions around the same time. There wasn't a community as such, but there was an atmosphere of commonality, probably more meaningful to Christians of a catholic bent than to others. One such convert was Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk. His book, SEEDS OF CONTEMPLATION, was highly influential.
Cheers,
Peter


Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


BTW, 

FWIW, let me share my own fanciful notion of  what I choose to call mystical existentialism.  

It means to me that existence is absurd and meaningless unless redeemed by faith in God. 
If God is at the center of things, everything has value and meaning. 
The Fire and the Rose are one.  

The impression I form from my reading of Eliot's poetry is the poet viewed things in this perspective. 
Prufrock and Gerontion, implicitly or explicitly,  find the world absurd in its departure from God. 
They are painfully aware of their own imperfections, even as they aspire for purity and perfection 
that belongs to the Absolute. 

CR



________________________________
 From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 9:07 PM
Subject: Re: TS Eliot: The Existential Angst
 

One might as well, I suppose, view Eliot's poetry in the light of Christian existentialism, in case it has not already been. 

Christian existentialism - a Wiki pagehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_existentialism 


CR


________________________________
 From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 9:17 AM
Subject: Re: TS Eliot: The Existential Angst
 

a word on Heidegger's 'Dasein'

Dasein (German pronunciation: [ˈdaːzaɪn]) is a German word which literally means being there (German: da - there; sein - being) often translated in English with the word existence. It is a fundamental concept in the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger particularly in his magnum opus 'Being and Time'. Heidegger uses the expression dasein to refer to the experience of being that is peculiar to human beings. Thus it is a form of being that is aware of and must confront such issues as personhood, mortality and the dilemma or paradox of living in relationship with other humans while being ultimately alone with oneself. (Wikipedia)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasein 


CR


________________________________
 From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 11:37 PM
Subject: Re: TS Eliot: The Existential Angst
 

Incidentally,  

Daring to disturb the universe: Heidegger's authenticity and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
Griffiths, D.
Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies
Aug 1, 2009 
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Daring+to+disturb+the+universe%3A+Heidegger's+authenticity+and+The+love...-a0229530684 

Interesting. 

CR


________________________________
 From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 10:46 PM
Subject: TS Eliot: The Existential Angst
 

The Existential Angst Behind Eliot's Spiritual Quest 

"[M]an struggles pitifully, matching his puny strength against the huge impersonal forces of this cosmic process, age after age, aeon after aeon over measures of time beyond thought, swept along by currents of passion in a void that he peoples with the phantoms of desire". -- 'Dimensions of Buddhist Thought' by Francis Story 



---

                          What will the spider do,	         
Suspend its operations, will the weevil 
Delay? De Bailhache, Fresca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled 
Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear 
In fractured atoms. Gull against the wind, in the windy straits 
Of Belle Isle, or running on the Horn,          
White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims
 ... 
              ('Gerontion') 


---


       Where is there an end of it, the soundless wailing,
The silent withering of autumn flowers
Dropping their petals and remaining motionless;
Where is there and end to the drifting wreckage ... 

      There is no end, but addition: the trailing
Consequence of further days and hours,
While emotion takes to itself the emotionless
Years of living among the breakage
Of what was believed in as the most reliable
And therefore the fittest for renunciation.
               ('The Dry Salvages') 


---


The torment of existential void is apparently behind Eliot's spiritual quest.  



CR   


________________________________
 


Do I dare    
Disturb the universe?
-- Prufrock 



________________________________
 


The worlds revolve like ancient women 
Gathering fuel in vacant lots.
-- 'Preludes' 
 



________________________________
 

“Some one frames upon the keys

 That exquisite nocturne, with which we explain
 The night and moonshine; music which we seize
 To body forth our own vacuity.” 

  -- 'Conversation Galante' 


________________________________
 


"I should have been a pair of ragged claws

 Scuttling across the floors of silent seas."

An angst that has never ceased to haunt us ??? 

CR

-------------------------------------------------------------------


"Looking into the heart of light, the silence." 


Memento Mori: Existentialism, The Waste Land and Rosencrantz 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uO-C-avOi6c 


CR



________________________________
 

T S Eliot: Prufrock and Other Observations 

MALCOLM HEBRON 

http://malcolmhebron.blogspot.com/2012/05/t-s-eliot-prufrock-and-other.html 

    Very insightful.
CR