Gingerich's "point of view" does not seem to distinguish among symbols, image clusters, and what Eliot called an "objective correlative." To correlate is not necessarily to symbolize, and Eliot's own definition does not conflate them. In other words, Gingerich does not seem to understand the "objective correlative." I think we can rely on Eliot's own words, which refer to the "formula" for an emotion, not to a symbolic meaning. Gingerich can, of course, have his own definition, but that is not the same as claiming to explain Eliot's.
It would be nice, also, if Gingerich distinguished between the noun "subtlety" and the adverb "subtly." ("tastefully and subtlety" [sic])
I can imagine the sneers this will evoke and am long past interest in them, but this is a good deal below the Yale professor.
If anyone is interested in actually discussing Eliot, I would be interested in any views on the focus of his sense of tradition. It increasingly seems to me that to attend at all to what is called "British" literature means to try to deal with the plural, "traditions." I have been thinking about this and would be glad to know any reactions from the list, not random blogs.
>>> Chokh Raj 07/22/13 10:20 PM >>>
a point of view
Understanding the Objective Correlative
By Jon Gingerich
October 24, 2012
The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps 5
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots, 10
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.
-- TS Eliot, 'Preludes'
Nancy , I know that there are many ways to teach Eliot in the classroom, and beginners have to start somewhere. Nonetheless, when I heard the rather obvious and passionless points made in the Yale lectures I was reminded of a passage about Eliot that I've always loved, from Randall Jarrell’s 1962 lecture, "Fifty Years of American Poetry":
Won't the future say to us in helpless astonishment: //"But did you actually believe that all those things about objective correlatives, classicism, the tradition, applied to his poetry?// Surely you must have seen that he was one of the most subjective and daemonic poets who ever lived, the victim and helpless beneficiary of his own inexorable compulsions, obsessions? From a psychoanalytical point of view he was far and away the most interesting poet of your century. But for you, of course, after the first few years, his poetry existed undersea, thousands of feet below the deluge of exegesis, explication, source listing, scholarship and criticism that overwhelmed it. And yet how bravely and personally it survived, its eyes neither coral nor mother-of-pearl but plainly human, full of human anguish!"
-- Tom --
Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2013 11:24:40 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Yale "open course" lectures on Eliot
To: [log in to unmask]
I think there are two likely reasons for what you note: first, it seems to be an introductory class, so it probably assumes students with little knowledge of the basics; second, Hammer is not a specialist on Eliot--his books are on Hart Crane and other American poets. So he is not an Eliot expert with a graduate seminar. It is no doubt a useful film if one does not know Eliot.
>>> Tom Colket 07/22/13 10:55 AM >>>
While doing some on-line searching, I came across some lectures on Eliot as part of the Yale University "Open Courses," where major colleges and universities make video recordings of actual class lectures available free of charge on the web. I was initially excited to find that there were three 50-minute Eliot lectures, consisting of an introduction, a lecture on Prufrock, and the final one on The Waste Land. Unfortunately, after hearing the lectures, I cannot recommend them to the List. Anyone with even a small amount of Eliot knowledge will, in my opinion, find nothing new or insightful in what this Yale professor has to say for almost three hours.
I'm curious as to how this situation could have come about. How is it possible that a professor at a major university could have so little to offer his students about Eliot?
-- Tom --