We are invited into a mind, a world, which is a “broken bundle of mirrors,” a “heap of broken images.” Isn’t it that Mr. Eliot, finding it “impossible to say just what he means”—to recapitulate, to enumerate all the events and discoveries and memories that make a consciousness—has emulated the “magic lantern” that throws “the nerves in pattern on a screen”? If we perceive the poem in this light, as a series of brilliant, brief, unrelated or dimly related pictures by which a consciousness empties itself of its characteristic contents, then we also perceive that, anomalously, though the dropping out of any one picture would not in the least affect the logic or ”meaning” of the whole, it would seriously detract from the value of the portrait.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
… Conrad Aiken on The Waste Land: An Anatomy of Melancholy – The Sewanee Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)