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The Waste Land (1922)

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The Waste Land (1922). T. S. Eliot. Purpose of The Waste Land. To convey the soul’s and civilization’s sense of emptiness, confusion, and aimlessness after WWI To provide a means of regeneration for the soul and civilization To revitalize poetry. Objective Correlative.

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purpose of the waste land
Purpose of The Waste Land
  • To convey the soul’s and civilization’s sense of emptiness, confusion, and aimlessness after WWI
  • To provide a means of regeneration for the soul and civilization
  • To revitalize poetry
objective correlative
Objective Correlative

“The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding the ‘objective correlative’, in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.”

the objective correlative

The Objective Correlative

The waste land is the situation that signifies human despair and fear of death

premise of the waste land
Premise of The Waste Land
  • We need to accept that all wars are one war, all battles are one battle, all journeys one journey, all rivers one river, all rooms one room, all loves one love, and ultimately, all people one person.
  • All of the specific examples of these things in the poem are in every case representative of their kind.
the meaning of the waste land
The Meaning of The Waste Land
  • convey the state of post-war civilization and the soul through “the heap of broken images”
  • transcend the ego by identifying with the continuity of significant tradition, of the inherited wisdom of the human race
external sources
External Sources
  • Biographical and historical background
  • The collective vision
the waste land biographical and historical contexts modern aimlessness
The Waste Land: Biographical and Historical Contexts—Modern Aimlessness

T. S. Eliot

Post-war society

biographical context
Biographical Context
  • met Ezra Pound, who introduced him to several modernist poets
  • married Vivien Haigh-Wood
  • worked at Lloyd’s Bank
  • had a nervous breakdown; recuperated in Margate and Lausanne, Switzerland
historical context wwi
Historical Context: WWI
  • had laid the battlefields to waste
  • had spiritually scarred soldiers and the population at large
  • had physically weakened populations, enabling the Spanish flu to kill over 50 million people
carl jung
Carl JungThe Waste Land: Regeneration

The Golden Bough

From Ritual to Romance

The Tarot

carl jung s collective unconscious
Carl Jung’s Collective Unconscious
  • the unconscious inherited wisdom of the race
  • contains all of the images, archetypes, that have ever given rise to myths
  • archetypes, to be of value, must be recreated in collaboration with the conscious intelligence into a process of ordered growth, of transformation
jung s archetypes of transformation
Jung’s “Archetypes of Transformation”
  • refers to the integration of the personality
  • occurs with the detachment from the world of objective reality as the center of experience and the finding of a new dimension in which to live
  • involves the death of an old pattern of life and the birth of a new
jung s archetypes of transformation14
Jung’s “Archetypes of Transformation”
  • During the process of transformation, certain archetypical images occur, forming a continuity and an interaction of symbols expressing the disintegration and death of the old pattern and the gradual emergence of the new.
  • After the transformation, the center of the personality shifts from the ego to a point of equilibrium between the individual consciousness and the collective psyche.
jessie l weston from ritual to romance 1920
Jessie L. Weston: From Ritual toRomance (1920)
  • an attempt to explain the roots of the legend of the Holy Grail
  • enumerates the seemingly inexplicable elements of the quest--The Fisher King, The Wasteland, the Chapel Perilous, and the Grail Cup itself
  • ties them to the symbols and initiatory rites of the ancient mystery religions whose common source were the vegetation rituals and fertility rites
the legend the curse
The Legend: The Curse
  • concerns a land which has been blighted by a curse so that it is arid and waterless, rendering it infertile
  • linked with the plight of a ruler, the Fisher King, who as a result of an illness or a wound has become sexually impotent
the legend the curse17
The Legend: The Curse
  • removed when a Knight appears who must ask the question as to the meaning of the Lance and the Grail
    • the lance which pierced Christ’s side at the Crucifixion
    • The cup from which Christ and the disciples drank at the Last Supper
the legend other versions of the curse
The Legend: Other Versions of the Curse
  • removed when Knight asks why this curse has taken place
  • removed when the Knight undertakes various ordeals, culminating in that of the Chapel or Cemetery Perilous
james frazer the golden bough a study of magic and religion 1890 1915
James Frazer: The Golden Bough: A Study of Magic and Religion (1890-1915)
  • reads a bit like a novel that touches on almost anything
  • explores the roots of mythology, folklore, magic, and religion from the far East, the near East, Africa, Europe, America and more
  • shows the parallels between these and Christianity
significance of the golden bough
Significance of The Golden Bough
  • Its thesis is that ancient religions were fertility cults that centered around the worship of, and periodic sacrifice of, a sacred king, the incarnation of a dying and reviving god, a solar deity who underwent a mystic marriage to a goddess of the earth, and who died at the harvest and who was reincarnated in the spring.
  • It claimed that this legend was central to almost all of the world's mythologies.
  • The golden bough is a reference to a mystical tree in a Greco-Roman myth.
    • In the ancient tale the hero Aeneas consults the prophetess who is one of the Sybil at Cumae.
    • The Sybil tells Aeneas to break a branch from a certain tree that is sacred to Juno Inferno.
    • Then Aeneas is led to the entrance of the Underworld that he descends.
    • Aeneas approaches the Stygian lake that Charon will not ferry him across because he is not dead.
    • The Sybil who accompanies Aeneas then produces a golden bough that allows Aeneas entrance into the Underworld.
the tarot
The Tarot
  • Based on similarities of the imagery and numbering, some associate the Tarot with ancient Egypt.
  • The pack of cards was used to forecast the rising and falling of the waters of the Nile.
  • Cards were used to control the sources of life.
the form of the waste land
The Form of The Waste Land
  • fragments of human experience of the present moment
  • allusions to the significant tradition of the past
the form
The Form

The Mythical Method


The Kaleidoscope

The Labyrinth



the mythical method
The Mythical Method
  • The presentation of experience in symbolic form
  • The creation of a pattern that brings human beings into significant relationship with mysterious forces outside the actualities of daily life
the mythical method26
The Mythical Method
  • means of perceiving inner realities through their reflection in concrete images
  • means of manipulating a continuous parallel between contemporaneity and antiquity
  • means of structuring experience, of projecting emotional material by definition fragmented
  • means of expressing revelation rather than explanation
  • an early protoscientific practice combining elements of chemistry, physics, astrology, art, semiotics, metallurgy, medicine, and mysticism
  • most well-known goal was the transmutation of any metal into either gold or silver
  • the mythical substance, “the Philosopher’s Stone,” believed to be an essential ingredient in this goal
  • goal of alchemy was really a metaphor for a spiritual transformation of the self
  • when reading a book on alchemy, the reader must read "over" the words to figure out the way to follow — decoding the secret text to discover its true meaning
  • still being used throughout the world as meditative and healing tools
  • suggest going on a pilgrimage to discover something about ourselves and God
  • implies losing one’s way and having to start from the beginning all over again
  • Release of distracting cares as you move toward the center and let your mind gradually quiet
  • Receptivity to whatever illumination you receive as you pause in the center for prayer or meditation
  • Rejoining the world with your renewed vision or refreshed spirit as you follow the path outward again.
  • The kaleidoscope is a tube of mirrors containing loose colored fragments.
  • The viewer looks in one end and light enters the other end, reflecting off the mirrors.
  • Typically there are two rectangular lengthways mirrors. Setting of the mirrors at 45 degrees creates eight duplicate images of the objects, six at 60 degrees, and four at 90 degrees.
  • As the tube is rotated, the tumbling of the fragments presents the viewer with varying colors and patterns.
  • Any arbitrary pattern of objects shows up as a beautiful symmetric pattern because of the reflections in the mirrors.
  • A two-mirror model yields a pattern or patterns isolated against a solid black background, while a three-mirror (closed triangle) model yields a pattern that fills the entire field.
  • made up of images that are spliced (edited) together to create an emotional reaction from the viewer
  • can be used to document reality
  • captures the dynamism and chaos of the modern age
  • A work composed of bringing together two or more disparate realities
  • A new relationship is enacted between “low” culture (mass culture) and “high” culture.
  • This relationship is felt to be inappropriate, jarring, or wrong—yet interestingly so.
  • The end result is indecency, paradox, and enigma.
the mythical method33
The Mythical Method
  • For Eliot, the mythical method was the means of revitalizing poetry.
  • According to Eliot, poetry had become in its present state too beholden to description, narrative, discussion, to reflection, to decoration.
meaning the mythical method
Meaning: The Mythical Method
  • For Eliot, the mythical method was the means of revitalizing poetry.
  • According to Eliot, poetry had become in its present state too beholden to description, narrative, discussion, to reflection, to decoration.
form modern music and jazz
Form: Modern Music and Jazz
  • imitates the jazz-like syncopation--and, like 1920s jazz, essentially iconoclastic
  • captures the dissonance and urban rhythms of modern life
  • parallels The Rite of Spring which “transforms the rhythm of the steppes into the scream of the motor horn, the rattle of the machinery, the grind of the wheels, the beating of iron and steel, the roar of the underground railway, and the other barbaric cries of modern life; and to transform these despairing noises into music”