Some years ago, when my wife's father was stopped going the wrong
way on a one way street in this small town, the officer, well known
to Red, said, "Red, don't you know this is a one way street?" "But
Rod," said Red, "I'm only going one way."
Red, of course, knew he was making a joke with the law. Happily he
was let off with a warning. Carrol, on the other hand, wants us to
believe that a one way street really is a two way street. Well,
okay, you pays your money and you makes your choices. But what you
choose doesn't determine the nature of the street, only the approach
you bring to it.
I don't see any new questions or pressing observations in his post,
and all in all don't believe my certainty exceeds anything Carrol
always has on display. To the degree that "Prufrock" is a successful
poem, it's meaning inheres in its making, which, again, would have
been what Pound so enthusiastically pounced on.
Consider Wyndham Lewis' account of meeting TSE:
" As I entered the room I discovered an agreeable stranger parked up
one of the sides of the triangle. He softly growled at me, as we
shook hands. American. A graceful neck, I noted, with what elsewhere
I have described as 'a Gioconda smile.' Though not feminine --
besides being physically large his personality visibly moved within
the male pale -- there were dimples in the warm dark skin;
undoubtedly he used his eyes a little like a Leonardo. He was a very
attractive fellow then....I liked him, though I may say not at all
connecting him with texts Ezra had shown me about some fictional
character dreadfully troubled with old age, in which the lines....'I
am growing old....'.....I was unable to make head or tail of.
Ezra now lay flung back in typical posture of aggressive ease...
However, he kept steadily beneath his quizzical but self-satisfied
observation his latest prize, or discovery -- the author of Prufrock.
The new collector's piece went on smiling and growling out
melodiously his apt and bright answers to promptings from the proud
figure of his exhausted captor."
After this description of a most un-Prufrockian like character,
Lewis stumbles in the same place Carrol does, but only partly for
the same reason: he can't make sense of the meaning of the "growing
old" line for Prufrock, whereas Carrol's attention is in another
dimensionaaaaa, trying to make it work for Eliot. The answer lies in
how Prufrock's actions and alarms make him what he is and bring him
to an end meant to be perceived as his fall, but moreover,
in the first place, meant to be perceived by the structure and
technique and signs in the poem. I think the telling phrase used to
be "follow the lines of force."
PS I am impressed by Carrol's evident respect for "Prufrock." In a
post from him I stumbled upon by virtue of my email client deciding
to open to posts from 2009, he noted that in the long run Eliot
would be largely forgotten by future generations with only two
poems, in a minor way, meeting the test of time. No doubt "Prufrock"
is one of them. I suppose it is only a matter of time until this
projection comes to pass, and we will all be on the Marianne Moore
list, discussing as per Carrol those much richer and more powerful