Posts Tagged ‘Eliot’

On the Significance of Tiresias in The Waste Land

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

I want to take this opportunity to shed some more light on what I was talking about in class.

Tiresias is a blind man with the gift of foresight who can decipher the songs of birds and is a world-renown female prostitute.
If a sightless, all-knowing, bird-song-interpreter isn’t the key to deciphering Eliot’s intention, metaphor, and authority I don’t know what is.

I urge everyone to read The Waste Land over again and see if any one of those traits doesn’t help answer your questions about God, sexuality, allegory, or understanding in The Waste Land.

To this end I think Tiresias is the key to The Waste Land.  In my opinion Tiresias serves as the God of The Waste Land and interpretation of the text through his “eyes” has proven to me to be much more successful than the traditional biblical “knowledge is harmful” lens.

When Eliot intends to contradict Tiresias is there to underpin it.

Unreal City

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

In the mentions of the Unreal City… the first time, the line directly afterwards puts the city at dawn. … the second time, the line directly afterwards puts the city at noon. … the final time, “Unreal City” comes after a list of famous ancient cities, however about ten lines later there is mention of moonlight.

Does this remind anybody else of that riddle, “What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?”

Another part that reminds me of this riddle are lines 28-9: “Your shadow at morning striding behind you / Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;” Could the Unreal City just be all the world that has come before us? There is a painting that this reminds me of, although I can’t remember what it was called and I can’t find it online… So, I’m going to ask one of my old Governor’s school teachers for the name of it and I’ll try and upload it soon. Anyway… Food for thought that I’ve been chewing on for some time now… food I can’t quite figure out!

A Game of Chess

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

I think the view of women in this poem is something to be paid attention to, and this is something I did not get a chance to focus on last Thursday, but something I think is important. Just as a starting point – in the section A Game of Chess, there are three specific allusions to powerful and intelligent women made weak and essentially destroyed due to men. More specifically, these women were torn apart because of their determination to not give themselves wholly to their mens’ missions or to not just be a pawn in their mens’ games of chess…

Beginning with Cleopatra – intelligent woman, relationships with strong men, and independently powerful. She ruled Egypt, you guys. EGYPT. She also committed suicide when she realized she could no longer protect her kingdom from Rome through her seduction of men. Let’s face it – she seduced Caesar, Antony, and when she could not seduce Octavian, she knew her time as ruler was gone and she, supposedly, poisoned herself. Leaving behind her son to be executed and her kingdom made subservient. Woman destroyed in position of power because she was a demigod – but she still could not make it cohere. Lesson: Woman should not be in power? Maybe. Woman should bow down to their male superiors? Perhaps. Woman is incapable of honesty? Hm.

Then Dido, Queen of Carthage. Powerful, supposedly beautiful, strong. Queen of the people that would grow to fight Rome in three different wars. And yet, commits suicide when a man leaves her. She wants him back – she doesn’t fully support him leaving and in her protest of this grieves and kills herself, leaving her queendom without a queen. Lesson: Woman is weak? Maybe. Woman should be subordinate to man’s wishes? Perhaps. Woman should not be in power? Hm.

Philomel, Queen of the King Tereus. Tereus who rapes her sister, Procne, and cuts out Procne’s tongue so that she may never speak of this ill doing. Procne weaves a tapestry telling the story of what happened to her and the sisters team up to get revenge. They kill Itys, Philomel and Tereus’ son, and proceed to cook him in a stew (but they keep his head seperate). They feed this stew to Tereus and after he is done, they show him Itys’ head. He chases them out of the house and the two sisters are changed into birds by the gods, one a nightingale and the other a swallow. Philomel is the nightingale referenced by “Jug Jug”. Lesson: Woman should be blindly subservient to men? Maybe. Woman should not seek revenge? Perhaps. Woman should not be in power? Hm.

These women were intelligent queens. They could be vicious, seductive, and manipulative. They seeked some sort of revenge be it their own tragic death or someone else’s. But in all of these cases, they did not die to protect their king. They did not die fully supporting the decisions that the men made around them. They died fighting in the ways they knew how and in the ways history has given them – one way or another.

And isn’t it so, that in chess, the queen is the most important piece? The fighter, the defender, the offense, the protector… her entire job is to serve the king. I know we talked about the premise of the play that the line is a reference to… but nevertheless.

Just a thought.

And now, just a question: What are you trying to say, Eliot?

Alison’s Bridge to the Blog

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

             Today, we spent the majority of our time discussing genre and movements. While genre theory is definitely worth discussing, we have already read quite a bit of information on the subject, and there isn’t much that I’d like to say that Jen didn’t already do a good job covering this morning. I decided to look more at the Decadent Movement and Modernism.

What I found when I examined these movements, is that I could definitely see “The Waste Land” fitting into both of them. First I looked at some basic definitions of the Decadence Movement, since I wasn’t as familiar with this movement as I was with Modernism. What I gathered is that the Decadent Movement was centered around stylized language being used to describe themes such as depression, war, moral concerns, and death. Right away, I noticed many similarities between the definitions I found on the Decadence Movement, and the list we created about the uncertainty that goes alone with Modernism.

The word that kept coming back to me this evening was “aesthetic” (Interestingly enough, some even define Aestheticism as its own artistic movement, so there’s another we can add to out list!). Based on how I’ve looked at aesthetics in terms of literary movements before now, “The Waste Land” felt like aestheticism being turned on its head. Until now, I had thought of it as the celebration of beauty, but also just an extreme focus on beauty above everything else. Obviously, there is not much that is beautiful about the land described by Eliot in “The Waste Land.” However, Eliot does use beautiful language, he just doesn’t paint a pretty picture. For example, right at the beginning, Eliot intersperses images of a blooming spring with feelings of depression. In fact, “April is the cruelest month,” and the lines that follow it have stood out to me since I first read this poem. Other than the meanings we have discussed in class already, the picture it paints for me is of an individual who is missing a loved one who has died- watching the world come back alive, and knowing that they will never have that loved one back. I just think that it is so worth noting, that amidst all buds of spring, there is such sorrow in this waste land created by Eliot.

Of course, works generally have to meet certain criteria in order to fit into a movement. However, sometimes these criteria differ from critic to critic. That’s one of the reasons I feel the discussion of movements is interesting to consider. What movements do you feel The Waste Land falls into? Are there maybe even some we haven’t considered yet?

“Sloppy is a beautiful reader of a newspaper”

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Come on, Lorentzenites, explain this post title.

In class I mentioned quickly at the end that I had found a website from the University of Toronto that is using digital technology to analyze the voice(s) of The Waste Land.  The site has clear info about its approach, and you can see how the class identified the voices, can see the results of their computer algorithm (what?! crazy idea) and can even identify and name the voice(s) yourself.  It’s interesting to poke around on, but this last feature is my true interest and I’d love to see any of you who are interested have a go at it.  If you do it, annotate your own text also so you can share with us (I’m especially curious about the “naming” aspect).  Might be fun to do with a classmate or friend also.