Thursday, August 23, 2018

"Waste Land"

"Elon Musk tweets that he wants us to read the end notes for T.S. Eliot’s famous poem 'The Waste-Land.'” He's been having a rough time lately and Kevin Williamson finds it interesting that he apparently "is seeking solace in poetry."
“The Waste-Land” is a famously obscure and recondite poem. It is part Grail lore, part social reportage, and part library. The poem, which was originally published with its end notes, is full of references to diverse works of literature, music, and philosophy. Its mood is bleak, and one of its themes is an isolation so deep that “loneliness” doesn’t really capture it — the belief that we are all prisoners inside our own minds (or souls), and that, being unable to pass beyond those walls, we are never able to truly know one another or to be known. It is good reading for the disconsolate and the forlorn, which even billionaires must be from time to time.

And Eliot is good reading for conservatives. (It is fitting that Russell Kirk gave The Conservative Mind the subtitle: “From Burke to Eliot.”) Eliot saw a fundamental divide in the West, “between the secularists — whatever political or moral philosophy they support — and the anti-secularists; between those who believe only in values realizable in time and on earth, and those who believe in values realized out of time.” (“Out of time” — no wonder Elon Musk is in an Eliotic mood.) Kirk dedicated an entire volume to the poet: Eliot and His Age: T. S. Eliot’s Moral Imagination in the Twentieth Century. Kirk on Eliot is far better reading than today’s 27th column on Paul Manafort, if you want to get one last light summer read in. ....