a most satisfying article vis-a-vis the subject line

Voices and Language in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land
By Allan Johnson

"[T]he poem's organizing motif of waste is enacted by the text's own mysterious incoherence and accumulation of disparate voices." ... Perhaps the most challenging aspect of reading The Waste Land is learning to accept the undecipherable and to view the voices of the many residents of the wasteland not as inconsistent, but disjointed and reaching toward one goal. ... The question of the voice behind The Waste Land can be answered in one way by the poem's curious epigraph, taken from Petronius' Satyricon, which is obscure in both its language and its direct implications to Eliot's work." 




"What is meaning and how do we find it? This question is a thematic thread that pervades the fragmentary lines of T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, a diagnosis of humanity in our crumbling, modern civilization. The poem is disjunctive in many ways: it is written in five parts, all with diverse subjects; a multitude of voices confuses regular distinctions of character and perspective; the poem spans the entire range of poetic styles, from lyrical to narrative; and the variety within each of these elements appears so chaotic and inexplicable that we are left to assume a complete dearth of unified themes or meaning in the poem as a whole. Nevertheless, it is precisely through this apparent disjunction and disconnection that Eliot means to convey his ideas on humanity and modern civilization. Through various images and episodes, Eliot explores the different ways we seek meaning in the world, in our lives, and in others, and how these usual ways all ultimately fail: ironically, only through recognizing the limits on our ability to discover meaning do we find any at all."  -- The Blank Card: Meaning and Transcendence in T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland by Joshua Evans, Yale University


Depends on how one takes it, Schlanger. 
Modes of apprehension, maybe.
A raid on the inarticulate, as Eliot said. 


From: "[log in to unmask]" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 11:58 AM
Subject: Re: Poem-A-Day: Experiment in Divination: Voice and Character by Rebecca Wolff

That, CR, does not inure to Eliot's credit.

Sent from my iPhone

On Aug 7, 2013, at 8:44 AM, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Now wasn't Eliot's poetry the provenance of these experiments?


From: Poets.org <[log in to unmask]>;
To: <[log in to unmask]>;
Subject: Poem-A-Day: Experiment in Divination: Voice and Character by Rebecca Wolff
Sent: Wed, Aug 7, 2013 10:39:30 AM

Experiment in Divination: Voice and Character
There is a curiosity that knows
I know
deathless ceiling of unknowing
I know
Who I ask
is changing
all the time
now changed.
How else is one to know
How is one to know how to proceed
the course of action
a non-reflective surface
a playing card on a wooden picnic table
a knot of knowing on a node of playing
How is one to know
How else is one to know how to proceed
How is one to make the motion against
And there's forever
and that's a mighty long time.

Copyright © 2013 by Rebecca Wolff. Used with permission of the author.  
About This Poem
"This is one of a group or series of 'Experiments in Voice and Character'; it is either the first or the last, I haven't decided, but so far it is the only one that announces its thematic material in its title. The divinatory practice it concerns itself with is the reading of cards; it concerns itself with longing for an answer when we cannot have an answer, the intense longing that provokes a certainty that there is a way of knowing if only we had it. And then we do.
--Rebecca Wolff
Most Recent Book by Wolff

(W. W. Norton, 2010)

August 7, 2013
Rebecca Wolff's third collection of poems is The King (W. W. Norton, 2010). Wolff is the founder and editor of the journal Fence. She lives in Athens, New York.
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