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Poetry

Tuesday Modernism

Eliot knew his Pound and his Joyce. He had seen what happens in the modernist project: one moves beyond communication to technique, and without meaning technique is worthless. I’ve read Joyce — there are rewards in it, but the barrier to entry is too high.

The writers and artists forgot that they were competing with a six pack of beer for disposable cash. Their refuge became criticism and journalism (if honest: Eliot was) or the academy. Now it is the academy or state media.

From Burnt Norton, V

Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them. The Word in the desert
Is most attacked by voices of temptation,
The crying shadow in the funeral dance,
The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.

T.S. Eliot, 1935

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