I don't know if there is a lit. crit. term for bullying the bully, Ken, but you do it well. I am reminded of the motto of the Table Servers Union of the USA: "We also wait who only stand & serve". ;-)
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.
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