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I'd call that the "murder" of a well-wrought urn.
It tantamounts to a heresy, indeed.

CR

On Wednesday, October 28, 2015, Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> The Biographical Critic versus The New Critic
>
> Accosted by a work of art (in a book, a journal, a news magazine) a
> biographical critic would like to learn all about the artist's life and the
> circumstances of the piece's composition before he is able to appreciate
> the work. And when all that is learnt, the piece would be pinned down to
> the wall in a formulated phrase. That's surely a case of imaginative
> failure. A dreaded failure to which many a critic are liable these days.
>
> CR
>
> On Wednesday, October 28, 2015, Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]
> <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml',[log in to unmask]);>> wrote:
>
>> Sorry you think it is rude. I don't see it that way. Direct, yes, but
>> meant to be taken at face value. You and I disagree in fundamental ways.
>> You started the email to which mine was an answer with "I am unable..." My
>> answer is meant to be enabling. It was addressed to you because you asked
>> me for an answer, but it could have easily been addressed to anyone else,
>> as it was not a remonstrance (contra Carrol's take), but the postulation of
>> my understanding of what one must bring to the poem to read it as a poem.
>> I'm disappointed you took it otherwise, but not honestly surprised. You
>> want to be in conversations, but only if you can be left out of them. I
>> don't think that is a paradox or a possibility.
>>
>> As far as it goes, I stand by it. I've said repeatedly that one's
>> appreciation of E's life and effects contribute to understanding his
>> poetry. But it does not do the essential first thing which the latter
>> studies must be subordinate to, and that's the rub: subordinate to. And
>> decidedly with E's earliest poetry, one does not need information outside
>> of the poems to understand their force as poems, not as coded commentaries
>> on E's life. Obviously E's life -- the man who suffers -- enters into them
>> as material. But the inability of his critics to understand even the
>> earliest poems in their dynamic as poems and instead with the weight of
>> gravity refer them to E's life for their meaning speaks to a general
>> paucity of understanding across the Eliot criticism spectrum.
>>
>> As far as New Criticism goes, that's your bugaboo, not mine. On current
>> criticism, I'd sign off on Peter's remarks; there's no progress in the
>> arts, and that includes most assuredly the art of criticism.
>>
>> Ken A
>>
>> On 10/27/2015 12:29 PM, Nancy Gish wrote:
>>
>> I have been trying to think how one could answer this very personal,
>> rude, and astonishing direct address informing me by name what I need to do
>> and how I have failed.
>>
>> So I have failed again. There is no way to answer it except in kind, and
>> that is not useful.
>>
>> But the assumptions behind Ken's theory (it is a theory, not a fact or
>> set of facts) are simply no longer tenable. As a quick random sample, read
>> Jayme Stayer's work that CR posted. Or the fascinating sources in
>> Robert Crawford's bio or Nancy Hargrove's account of Eliot in Paris or the
>> connections in Däumer and Bagchee's collection of essays on international
>> Eliot or Anita Patterson's fascinating account of links to Japan or Louis
>> Rainey's dating of TWL fragments by paper and typewriter or the
>> many studies of Eliot and Dante or Eliot's own letters or the writings of
>> his colleagues and friends--read *anything* other than New Critical
>> rewrites if you are at all interested in poetry and its importance. Read
>> any major scholarship in the past several decades, and you will not find
>> this assumption that a poem, as published, is a thing in itself with no
>> connection to its author, culture, history, composition, or anything at all
>> except its meaning "to me"--which many students imagine is anything at all.
>>
>> I have no idea what Ken imagines I have been doing for half my life to be
>> utterly obtuse and incompetent about reading poetry.
>> Nancy
>>
>> >>> Ken Armstrong 10/25/15 10:20 AM >>>
>> Nancy,
>>
>> You and I it appears think of "making" differently. In my way of thinking
>> about it, it is not possible for us to "know a great deal more about it
>> than Lewis did" -- because Lewis had the poem. We might learn more about
>> the background to its composition, but either the "making" is accessible
>> through the poem itself, ie it is a successful poem, or it isn't.  And the
>> degree to which it is or isn't, or a comprehending rendering of its
>> registry as a poem, what it does as a poem, also does not depend on ever
>> expanding background data.
>>
>> I know what the usual objections to this are, and I know where they go
>> off track. But communicating that I'm not so good at, because really, to
>> understand what I'm trying to get at you 'd have to, as Eliot once said,
>> believe it first. Perhaps "see it first" or "experience it first" would be
>> less objectionable ways of putting it. The long and short of it is, you
>> have to work out not what the poem meant for Eliot -- he gave you all you
>> need to know when he published it -- but what it means for you, Nancy Gish,
>> for your existence as a human being, i.e. you have to participate, really
>> participate with your whole being, in the creative act that is the making
>> of the poem. It can't just be Eliot's life on the line, it has to be yours,
>> too. Always referring it back to Eliot only guarantees that the creative
>> act will never be availed to a reader, thus the whole purpose of having the
>> poem in the first place is defeated.
>>
>> As I said, I'm not particularly skilled at presenting this. I offered the
>> Lewis piece really just because Eliot in it is so un-Prufrock like, I hoped
>> it might be a wake-up call that shakes someone off that dead-end track.
>>
>> Ken A
>>
>>
>>
>> On 10/23/2015 12:49 PM, Nancy Gish wrote:
>>
>> I am unable to see here what the "meaning" of the poem ostensibly is. But
>> if it is about the "making," we know a great deal more than Lewis did
>> (though the excerpt below says nothing about the "making" of "Prufrock."
>> In a fascinating seminar led by Cassandra Laity at the TSE Society, a lot
>> of new information appeared. In my own case, I was focused on the writing
>> of "Prufrock's Pervigilium," which was inserted in the Notebook and then
>> removed (See IMH). It offers a quite disturbing and very different voice.
>> But it is part of what was very much in the "making."
>>
>> What, for example, is presumed to be the meaning that provides an
>> absolute significance to "grow old" as literal?
>> Or did I miss something?
>> Nancy
>>
>> >>> Ken Armstrong 10/23/15 12:30 PM >>>
>> 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."
>>
>> Ken A
>>
>> 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 poems.
>>
>>
>>
>>