Tuesday, 17 October 2006

T.S. Eliot

I've discovered T.S. Eliot. I took Sue Asby's T.S. Eliot; Life and Works with me to the playground today and read most of it while the girlies played. At first, with the mundane life-story bit and some talk about society of the early 20th century, I was bored. So I told myself that I might as well be educated about such things, and read on.

As I got to the descriptions of the poetry, I started to be really interested. Primarily because Eliot seems mostly interested in something that always fascinates me - the difference, and conflict, between how one behaves on the outside, and how one feels on the inside. Some of them seem to be saying "I know I'm at a posh, fancy tea party, but I feel like I'm at a carnival riding the bumper cars... anyone going to join me?"

Take this one, which I read over and over because I love it... it's called Hysteria...

As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it, until her teeth were only accidental stars with a talent for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps, inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by the ripple of unseen muscles. An elderly waiter with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading a pink and white checked tablecloth over the rusty green iron table, saying: 'If the lady and gentlemen wish to take their tea in the garden, if the lady and gentlemen wish to take their tea in the garden...' I decided that if the shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of the fragments of the afternoon might be collected, and I concentrated my attention with careful subtlety to this end.

It describes such a simple moment, a typical everyday moment, but in such an interesting way.

More reasons to love Eliot:

"...the first danger is that of assuming that there must be just one interpretation of the poem as a whole, that must be right... But as for the meaning of the poem as a whole, it is not exhausted by any explanation, for the meaning is what the poem means to different sensitive readers."
and this:
"The poet may know the history of [the poem's] composition, the material which has gone in and come out in an unrecognisable form, and he knows what he was trying to do and what he was meaning to mean. But what a poem means is as much what it means to others as what it means to the author, and indeed, in the course of time a poet may become merely a reader in respect of his own works, forgetting his original meaning."
Eliot, from The Frontiers of Criticism
And I think you can apply those thoughts to all kinds of art. I really love artists who are brave enough to put their art out there and let it be open to interpretation; to let people see what they see, and take from it what they need, without judgement.
I like it. I like it a lot. :)


merlin said...

Sumara ... Ahhhh, the whole way through a recent reply over on MM, the stuff on music and all, I was thinking, "man, there was something else I was going to put in and I just can't remember what it was ..." and then I decided to hop over here really quick and see what you have been writing here lately, and saw this post and thought ... "ahhhh, that was it"

what the langauge and dance language in regards to Harry as a bridge between Ron and Hermione, and the talk of time and the eternal, from that whole comments thread reminded me of was the kind of recurring line in Elliot's 4 Quartets:

"At the still point of the turning, there is the dance, and there is only the dance"

(although I feel the necessity to clarify having a sort of more broad and nebulous concept of the "dance" ... lest there be any more discussion of myself "prancing," as there once was LOL)

Sumara said...


Thanks Merlin! I love it.

Great minds think alike hey?!

I kinda hope Jo gets to read this because she's said some very wise things in the past about life being a dance and one only having the power to change one's own steps... or that you can only change the dance by changing your own steps... or something... :-)

merlin said...


Speaking of "dancing and prancing" I was just online because I was playing one of my favorite games, which is one I think you would like very much, in light of your recent movie spree (History of Violoence ... interesting movie, I thought very insightful but in some places over the top but more and more thinking about it is the question of where the movie comes out, like I said, very insightful about the progression of modernity in the 2 central images of the "safe" "heartland" and the old-world/urban" violence and the forgotten connections and ties - whenI first saw the movie I said, "insightful, but gives not pointers to answers, only questions ... and of course, it is not the job of art to 'teach lessons' in that way, but every story does tned to have a moral in the disposition that it takes towards the characters" and thus it was that I said, "no answers means it does not justify the over-the-top parts" and in the end I still think it may have been some gratuity in some scenes - but I am open to the poosibility that the "no answers" is a coinscious choice, that Maria Bello's almost pleading inquisitive look up at Vigo when he returns and then fade to black after the child, the innocent, performs the settling task of getting the plate for him, ie progressing with life as best as can be, may be the point of the moie, that the question may be, to date myself and demography myself terribly, that of Guns and Roses in the "classic rock" song "sweet child of mine" ... "where do we go now, where do we go from here?" in a very pointed way in the pleading and unanswered look up from Bello, that the point may be that the experience that weighs us down is the feeling of there being no answers ... which is different than saying definitively that there are not .. .it is simply saying "this is a very cumbersome, nigh paralyzing, feeling")

Anyway, one of my favorite games is "I know that actor/actress from somewhere" and then hopping on Hopping on IMDB and finding out ... tonight it was that I went up to Blockbuster to rent "V for Vendetta" because I have not seen it and it looked interesting and they were out of it but there was a pre-viewed copy for 12 bucks so I got it. There is a detective in the movie and he is investigating and some of the paths he takes in investigating put him himself under suspicion by the corrupted government agency and at one point the head of the corrupt side says to him "you're mother was Irish, wasn't she" and I thought "that's it! he is the guy that played Broy in Michael Collins, I'll bet any money ... paused the movie (still on pause) and hopped on and sure enough it is Stephen Rea in both cases.

Anyway, thought of that here because Hugo Weaving does some sort of prancing stuff as the main character V in the movie, and he uses the music imagery alot ... the movie has some great inter-textual cameo references ... at one point V is watching the b&w "Count of Monte Cristo" (I have not seen that one, I know the more recent one with Jim Caviezel has the central theme of going beyond vengance to a positive life) and the same actor, Stephen Rea, from Michael Collins, seems to make an obvious inter-text reference to the Neeson movie

At some point I may try to get going on my own blog site again to be putting up stuff like this and some other Non-HP essay stuff I have ideas on, on some music and stuff

merlin said...

and I too would love to hear Jo's thoughts on the whole "life as dance" thing

merlin said...

Clarification: Stephen Rea plays almost exactly the same role in both movies ... I am not done yet with V for Vendetta yet so I don not know if his character here meets the same fate as Broy in Michael Collins

Sumara said...

Oh I loooove Hugo Weaving. We watched The Matrix again the other day and I just hung on his every word and look like a slobbering fool. :)

I don't think I've seen V For Vendetta yet...I shall keep an eye out for it.

And no offence or anything, but your posts are hilarious... you should write a thesis on Parenthetical Essay-Writing or something. :-)

merlin said...

Well, I have finished watching "V for Vendetta" and it ranks among the movies that I like.

Most interesting quote (especially as concerns the Elliot quote here on the dance):

"A Revolution without dancing is a revolution that is not worth having."

Not saying I agree with everything in the movie, but I do find certain points in it ... very pointed. :) Definitely worth the "pre-viewed buy" and in the end a very prominent clock, ie a symbol of the dominance of "scientific" chronos (rather than its proper relation to kairos in human experience and mystery in the narrative of human existence) goes down.
I was not such a fan of the Wachowski brothers after my initial experience of Matrix 2 and 3, and, as I have said before, I still go back and forth on it (a lot hinges on interpretation of Nietzche and the post-modern question of the best path forward and how positive a role thought such as Nietzsche's plays in that in light of the fact that, while, for me at least, the pre-modern is preferabel to the "modern" [Descartes through the end of the 19th century] a return to the pre-modern is not possible and would really not be natural ... there is still a very real question about where the man is heading [cf both Pontius Pilate and Nietzsche - "Ecce Homo"] and whether it is a good place, ie where post-modernity is heading, and there is definite value and beauty and truth in the stage where the man was a boy, ie the pre-modern, and the boy is really and truly a part of the man's identity, but to treat the man like he is still a boy or the woman like she is still a girl, and to try to dress them up in their childhood clothing, is unnatural and psychologically unhealthy ... but there I am back to my Barbosian schitzophrenia)
One way or another, the Wachowski's have definitely re-established my view of them as at least real participants in a valid dialogue (this movie also had a fair amount of PoMo things ... particularly the male-female question and gender shifts and - a PoMo tenet John Granger identifies in HP in Hagrid's "mothering side" ... if you have seen V or do see it, this happens in particular with the letter from the Valerie character, read by the Evey character who then believes it to have been written by V and then finds out that there really was a Valerie and that V, a male, was the first anonymous and thus, from the standpoint of the writer, Valerie, un-gendered recipient - thus the letter is written to an neuter audience but expereince not by a neuter audience, but by both genders [ie, the audience not being thus not being neuter or genderless, but rather both genders in their positive instances] and the female audience experiences it first with the feeling that, even though the writer does not know her own gender, somehow it is a letter from a female to a female, and then finds out that its first audience context was a male ... lots of gender shifting, which is a very PoMo thing)

OK. enough lit crit for tonight :)

merlin said...

:) I have a personal theory that most of my life has been lived in the parentheses.

the original matrix ... gotta love it ... the Wachy bros just have a certain touch visually. Plus I think they really broke Reeves into a type of acting he is really good in ... I think he had tried to do the whole "dram" thing with some poor results but I think they had some vision that the dominance of "drama acting" is not accurate to reality and gave Reeves his first role of "heavier content" (vs "bill and teds" or "speed" - the first speed I actually really liked as an action flick - but speed 2 was horrible, especially the drawn out pacing ... and I am even a closet Sandra Bullock fan)

Weaving as Smith rules - for at least a year or two, actually more like till movie 2 came out - I had this thing of calling everybody I knew by "Mr (or Miss or Mrs) ... so and so" the way he does with "Mr Anderson" with the "Mr" drawn out in that way he does it

You never see Weaving's face in V but you do get a lot of the voice.

Sumara said...

"Most of my life has been lived in the parentheses" - I love it! That's going in my quotable quotes file. :)