Thanks Nancy, when last you posted on this some years ago I meant to follow up some of this for personal interest more than any connection with The Waste Land. So this is a useful outline to follow -with thanks. I cant explain to myself yet what I think about fugue in the context of reading the poem. I am interested in figure ground distinctions in the plastic arts so I will tinker with my thoughts a bit but I must say I have not felt compelled to shore up the fragments with this organizing idea. Maybe I?m failing an empathy test. By the way I have started reading In Parenthesis and finding it rewarding.
My research and commentary is all based in what was then clinical definition--especially by Janet because his work was very important in Boston and explains Eliot's images far better than others. But the study of "hysteria" was a major project during and just after WW1, and for Janet it was always a form of dissociation. Vittoz's book was a kind of watered down Janet, and Eliot specifically went to him rather than to a psychoanalyst. So I am not trying to offer a diagnosis, only what was then thought about dissociation and what was a major topic in Harvard when Eliot was a graduate student in the department that William James was in. And James was influenced by Janet, whom he invited to Harvard in 1906. I don't think one can apply ideas of psychiatry now to any of it with any specificity, but Janet, Freud, and Babinski, by 1910 and after, were all very specific in what they considered it meant, and Eliot knew the first two at least.
>>> Peter Dillane 08/20/13 2:05 AM >>>
Thanks Nancy and Peter,
I am not sure how much it helps me in a reading of the poem, but I will think about it a bit. As a diagnosis it suffers from the taxonomy difficulties of psychiatry which is at about the level of specificity of internal medicine in the early 20 th century. ( and which DSM - now V, how many Rocky movies were there?- does not help you with much)
Fugue states, as you note, are one form of dissociation. I have studied the early 20th C psychiatry on this and written on Eliot and dissociation, but I do not think it makes sense to call the whole poem that. For one thing, it's amnesia. But Eliot does have images throughout the early poetry that correspond to clinical descriptions of dissociation; it is not only fugues and is far too complex to describe here. But to use the term calls for what you studied; it's not a clear term to apply to a whole poem.
>>> Peter Dillane <[log in to unmask]> 08/19/13 8:23 AM >>>
I know Nancy has had a fair bit to say about fugue states in the past, but
I will put in my little bit for what its worth.
When I trained in psychiatry (not that I did much - one year undergraduate
and I did do a couple of years post graduate training ) it was said that the
amount of psychiatric illness in a community stays about the same but
expresses itself in different ways from time to time. Dissociative states
are not so common latterly - although in this country we took a lot of
people from Bosnia after the troubles there and we did see fugue states. I
have only one patient now ( my clinetele runs to about 2500 ) a middle
aged man from Lebanon who had a bad time in his adolescence who has had
continuing fugue symptoms.
No I dont know what it all means by the way.
----- Original Message -----
From: "P" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, August 19, 2013 4:34 PM
Subject: TWL as ground.
> My meditation on TWL as ground has reminded me of a Mayoress of a small
> town who disappeared. After living a life elsewhere she suddenly surfaced
> without remembering her other life, or something like that. Such an
> episode is called a fugue.
> It seems to me that TWL can be seen as a fugue. Not the person having the
> fugue but the structure of the fugue itself into which anyone can fit.
> Here is Wikipedia:
> "A fugue state, formally dissociative fugue or psychogenic fugue (DSM-IV
> Dissociative Disorders 300.13), is a rare psychiatric disorder
> characterized by reversible amnesia for personal identity, including the
> memories, personality and other identifying characteristics of
> individuality. The state is usually short-lived (ranging from hours to
> days), but can last months or longer. Dissociative fugue usually involves
> unplanned travel or wandering, and is sometimes accompanied by the
> establishment of a new identity.
> After recovery from fugue, previous memories usually return intact, but
> there is typically amnesia for the fugue episode. Additionally, an episode
> of fugue is not characterized as attributable to a psychiatric disorder if
> it can be related to the ingestion of psychotropic substances, to physical
> trauma, to a general medical condition, or to psychiatric conditions such
> as delirium, dementia, bipolar disorder or depression. Fugues are usually
> precipitated by a stressful episode, and upon recovery there may be
> amnesia for the original stressor (dissociative amnesia)."