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On 10/16/2015 12:29 AM, Nancy Gish wrote:
> This person has not even bothered to read Eliot before labeling his 
> views to make them affirm his own. This is an odd form of intellectual 
> dishonesty.

      Apparently if knowledge creates ignorance, the theory behind some 
intellectualizing is that ignorance creates knowledge, though in defence 
-- kind of -- of Mr. Friedman, more or less stripping away the 
references to Eliot, the brunt of his remarks really concern Thomas a 
Beckett as portrayed in Murder in the Cathedral, not Thomas a St. Louis 
or London as acted out in life, and in that regard they are, if not 
compelling, not ridiculous.

> I find it also curious that CR would point to such a text when it 
> identifies the character in an Eliot play with Eliot himself. That 
> Beckett took a stance Eliot portrayed in a play is not at all to 
> say Eliot took that stance. And yet any suggestion that Eliot was 
> giving his own views or feelings in /The Waste Land/ is met with loud 
> cries against biographical criticism.

   Nah, let's face it, CR's catholicity in pointing to all texts is 
beyond reproach, much as Carroll's judging ex cathedra  on what he 
claims not to have read, care about, or like is beyond reproof. In 
Boston as in Cleveland, it would be understood similarly to the 
phenomenon known as "Manny being Manny." But I don't know what the 
literary-critical term for it is.

      I think TWL is littered through with Eliot's views and feelings, 
that he wrote it in great measure to get through those feelings, ie. to 
meet them, settle with them and move on to something else, heralded most 
clearly by Ash Wednesday. But that is different than saying that the 
meaning of the TWL -- which is the way it specifically works as a poem 
-- is to be detected by investigating Eliot's life and attempting to 
draw a comprehensive series of one-to-one correspondences between the 
two. What that gives you is data and more data, but no danda; a 
biography, but no poetry. The cries against biographical criticism are, 
I think, in protest to that kind of reductionism, which in fact is total 
reductionism since it makes the poem itself irrelevant. That's a fatal 
error, as the poem itself is an advance of a method and development of a 
skill level, and to bring its worth as a poem into focus you would have 
to give an accounting that featured those properties, not simply focus 
on the materials from which the poem arose.

   Of course we've gone 'round on all this before, but once in a while I 
like to restate what seems to be lost in the opposing view's restatement 
of it. By the way, I think it is quite a bit more than safe to say that 
E would have passed his orals. Didn't he have a job waiting for him on 
the Harvard philosophy faculty? No mean circumstance given the star 
power that populated the philosophy department in those days, and 
perhaps as compelling a reason as any to avoid that crossing.

Ken A


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