T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land – Can We Learn From the Past ?
And he is not likely to know what is
To be done unless he lives in what is not
merely the present, but the present moment
of the past, unless he is conscious, not of what
is dead, but what is already living.
--T.S. Eliot, "Tradition and the Individual Talent"
When read for the first time, The Waste Land appears to be a concoction of sorts, a disjointed poem. Lines are written in different languages, narrators change, and the scenes seem disconnected, except for the repeated references to the desert and death. When read over again, however, the pieces become coherent. The Waste Land is categorized as a poem, but exhibited visually, it appears to be a literary collage. And when standing back and viewing the collage from afar, a common theme soon emerges. Eliot collects aspects from different cultures or what he calls cultural memories. These assembled memories depict a lifeless world, in which the barrenness of these scenes speak of a wasted condition. He concentrates on women, including examples of violence committed against them and the women's subsequent lack of response to this violence, to show how apathetic the world is. But The Waste Land is not a social commentary on the plight of women. Rather, the women's non-reaction to the violence against them becomes a metaphor for the impotence of the human race to respond to pain. Violence recurs throughout time, and as Eliot points to in his essay "Tradition and Individual Talent" in the epigraph, we can break this cycle of violence and move ahead only by learning from the past and applying this knowledge to the present.
Form often follows function in poetry, and in this case, Eliot uses this notion whe...
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...ing these fragments, he saw how asleep he used to be:
I have heard the key
Turn in the door once and turn once only
We think of the key, each in his prison,
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison (412-415)
These memories become his "key" to awken the rest of us who are still pretending. The reader is left with two choices at the end of the poem. S/he can either forget about the poem, and go back to living in a waste land, or s/he can stop repressing pain and feeling and leave the waste land. Eliot ends the poem with a man (maybe himself?) sitting on a shore, "[f]ishing, with the arid plain behind me" and asking, "Shall I at least set my lands in order?" (425-36) The man here, by facing his pain, has left the waste land, and is able to move ahead.
 Plato, Republic, in Great Diaologues of Plato (Mentor: New York, 1984), 313.
“Until the seventeenth century, Japanese Literature was privileged property. …The diffusion of literacy …(and) the printed word… created for the first time in Japan the conditions necessary for that peculiarly modern phenomenon, celebrity” (Robert Lyons Danly, editor of The Narrow Road of the Interior written by Matsuo Basho; found in the Norton Anthology of World Literature, Second Edition, Volume D). Celebrity is a loose term at times; it connotes fortune, flattery, and fleeting fame. The term, in this modern era especially, possesses an aura of inevitable transience and glamorized superficiality. Ironically, Matsuo Basho, (while writing in a period of his own newfound celebrity as a poet) places an obvious emphasis on the transience of life within his travel journal The Narrow Road of the Interior. This journal is wholly the recounting of expedition and ethos spanning a fifteen hundred mile feat, expressed in the form of a poetic memoir. It has been said that Basho’s emphasis on the Transient is directly related to his and much of his culture’s worldview of Zen Buddhism, which is renowned for its acknowledgement of the Transient as a tool for a more accurate picture of life and a higher achievement of enlightenment. Of course, in the realization that Basho does not appear to be unwaveringly religious, perhaps this reflection is not only correlative to Zen Buddhism, but also to his perspective on his newfound celebrity. Either way, Matsuo Basho is a profound lyricist who eloquently seeks to objectify and relay the concept of transience even in his own name.
When taking a radiograph there are some precautions that can be taken to reduce some of the radiation that can be exposed to a patient, what would be used on all patients is call a lead apron and thyroid collar, these aprons are used to protect the patients that may be a bit more radiosensitive and also may give the patient a little of reassurance that they will be protected. “Radiosensitivity is the relative susceptibility of cells, tissues, organs, organisms, or other substances to the injurious action of radiation.”
Mishima, Yukio. The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea. Trans. John Nathan. New York: Vintage, 1994.
It was hypothesized that culture would influence creative potential and achievement, largely through how individualistic (citizens serving themselves) or collectivistic (citizens serving society) the society of origin was. To this end, 55 American and 56 Chinese doctoral students were surveyed concerning their creative potential, their sense of individualism or collectivism, and their Graduate Record Examination quantitative subtest scores. Americans displayed significantly higher scores on a measure of creative potential than the Chinese. As expected, Americans showed greater individualism. Chinese were more collectivistic. Chinese had significantly higher skill mastery in the domain of mathematics. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings for understanding cultural differences in creativity are considered.
Kimberly Tsau, for example, follows De Quincey's lead in her analysis of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, suggesting that among the violence, apathy, and disjointedness of the poem is a call to face and learn from suffering. Her essay, "Hanging in a Jar," examines how Eliot collects a variety of "cultural memories," cutting and pasting them together to form a collection that is both terrifying and edifying.
...to subjects relevant to today, such as religion.Eliot argues that without religion we are all lack direction and more importantly we lack substance in our lives. Without religion, we are superficial and it is due to this that we turn to pop culture. Pop culture is a filler for that which is intellectually rewarding. Eliot recognized this and for this reason he wrote “The Wasteland”. Eliot’s poem made bold statements about what was really happening in the modern world. Whether one argue with Eliot’s positions or not, his work joins the canon of the classic and ironically provides an opportunity for readers to plug into something greater.
Yukio Mishima’s Temple of the Golden Pavilion, set in postwar Japan, gives way to a reflection of the postwar experience both the representation of military aggression and in use of symbolism of beauty, loss, and destruction. A story about Mizoguchi, a young, stuttering acolyte’s obsession with beauty lends itself to the conflagration of the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, based loosely on a true story about the Kinkaku-ji.
Suzuki, Tomi. Narrating the Self: Fictions of Japanese Modernity. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1996.