Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I have tried again and again to like T. S. Eliot, but I just can't do it. Not only am I not a great fanatic about poetry (and his poems are the closest thing I've found to accomodate a steady diet of poetry) but even when it comes to his prose I know of people who say the same things he says and say it better, and certainly with more humility. Alas it doesn't take a lot of humility to come off as humbler than Eliot, at least in his writing (the man, I understand, was much different). He has his moments, but on the whole, I think he's a preening culture-monger.

Postscript on "culture": People who talk about "culture" are never going to have it. "Culture" comes from cultus, and consists literally in a cult of worship. Disconnected from religion, culture is an illusion. And that, I believe, was one of Eliot's points. However, it you know what culture actually means, I don't see what good it does to then go on and talk of culture as if it were something in and of itself. If one wants "culture," one focuses on the arts and sciences; if one wants "religion," one does not think of religion, but of God; if one wants to be "a philosopher," he mustn't think of "philosophy," but of truth. Culture is a stupid word anyway. It always comes out of the mouths of English professors who say it with such glee as they speak through their nose. And idiotic liberal politicians only stand up to cheer a president in his State of the Union address when he throws the word "culture" in there somewhere. That is, by the way, the secret to success in academia and in other liberal circles: say "culture" a lot, with as much emphasis as possible--with as much nasal quality as possible--and indeed as if it very much meant something in and of itself.

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