I haven’t read “The Waste Land” for a year, and I never did bother to check all the footnotes. But I will hazard these statements—Eliot contains the same ecstatic vision which runs from Münzer to Yeats. However, he retains a grounding in the social reality/order of his time. Facing what he perceives as a choice between ecstatic chaos and lifeless mechanistic order, he accedes to maintaining a separation of asexual purity and brutal sexual reality. And he wears a stoical face before this. Read his essay on Tradition and the Individual Talent, as well as Four Quartets, when he’s less concerned with depicting moribund Europe, to catch a sense of what I speak. Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—Eliot is of this type. Of course, the dichotomy he maintains is reactionary, but it’s due to a deep fatalism, not ignorance. (Counter him with Yeats or Pound, who, arising from the same milieu, opted to support Hitler and Mussolini.) And this fatalism is born out of the relation between fertility and death, which I touched on in my last letter—life feeds on itself. A fatalism I share with the western tradition at times. You seem surprised at Eliot’s irreconcilable ambivalence; don’t you share this ambivalence yourself, Alex?
With his literary mien—a cool detachment, a sense of observing the complexity of life as an outsider—Obama is a writer who happened to become president. So it must be frustrating that now, as president, Obama must watch as outsiders attempt to tell his story. (Kantor hints at this possible tension, writing that Obama disdains the media and at times seemed that he “wanted to be his own White House correspondent.”)
2 years ago
| 2 notes
, Jodi Kantor
, White House
We’ve already elected the nation’s first black president and replaced a tongue-tied dauphin with a man of peerless eloquence.
2. Never mind Tim Burton and Johnny Depp: Their Halloween party featured the real Chewbacca. Have you ever partied with a wookie? (Oh, and gimme a break, hand-wringers, it was for military families.)