Author's Diction~Vipin Behari Goyal: Dilemma of Modern Man expounded by T.S.Eliot in "The Wasteland"

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Dilemma of Modern Man expounded by T.S.Eliot in "The Wasteland"

No Fear in Handful of Dust


The modern man returned disappointed. He could not commit suicide due to the gadget devised by him. The sensor had suggested him to read “The Wasteland”. The book had caused anxiety in him. He went for suicide since he found the life aimless and purposeless. After reading the book he was confused.
How the same act if done for procreation or for love is justified and is of high moral values, and condemned as a symbol of spiritual decay if  done for pleasure. Since the author did not have any convincing argument to support his Theory of Spiritual degeneration”, he had randomly picked up scriptures of mystic Eastern, to provide a solution which was already known to the entire civilization. The concept of Da in Brihdaranyak and “The Fire Sermon” in Buddhism did not match with dialectic and didactics of modern man.

The modern man had a comfortable relationship with his girlfriend. After living together for last two years, they found that they were not intimate enough to perform the act.

So Modern Man was of opinion that the author of that monologue was obsessed with sex.  In 430 lines verse, at many a spot, modern man thought, he could read the mind of Poet even though his spokesman was Tiresias. The poet had devised some new sounds the exact meaning of which were obscure, but were led to the vulgar representation of the act.

And still she cried, and still the world pursues,
jug jug to dirty ears. (V. 100)

Twit twit twit
Jug jug jug jug jug jug ( V. 200)

Only a cock stood on the rooftree
Co co rico co co rico(v.390)

Weialala leia
Wallala leialala (v. 280)

Modern man did not believe in experimenting with phonetics and linguist, especially by a poet.

The narration of episode of Typist and Clerk was disgusting. The typist gave herself with total indifference and apathy.

Exploring hands encounter no defense;
His vanity requires no response,
And makes a welcome of indifference. (V. 240)

In the opinion of Modern Man such indifference in the act was admirable.
The elaborate preparations which were once prerequisite of idle man and woman to perform the act were neither affordable nor tolerable.

The stories narrated by the three daughters of the Thames are abominable. The Modern Men had refined taste so far as art was concerned. He did not find the description was in good taste.

Undid me. By Richmond I raised my
Supine on the floor of narrow canoe.

No one who wants to reject the act itself would use such lucid descriptions. Modern man found such erotic imagination despicable. Also, it was quite a distorted version of ‘Gotterdammerung’( The Rhine-daughters). Moreover, it is more shocking that Thames-daughters found their loss of chastity as inevitable.

He wept. He promised “a new start.”
I made no comment. What should I
Resent?(V. 300)

The description of the third daughter was a shock to Modern Man.

I can connect
Nothing with nothing.

Modern man was in search of such electromagnetic waves that can connect nothing with nothing. It could be quite tedious to establish such a relationship.

Modern Man could like only one line in the poem.

“Shall I at least set my lands in order?”(V. 420)

That could have been a nice beginning.

The Modern Man was about to throw away the book, When The Ape Man came. He saw the book in the hand of Modern Man and laughed hysterically. The Modern Man was surprised that The Ape Man knew about the book. He felt humiliated and told the whole story.

Ape Man told the Modern Man that he had read the book superficially. Eliot said "At bottom: that is great way down; the bottom is the bottom."
Modern Man could not understand how an Ape Man could understand such a complex dilemma that he was facing.

Ape Man continued "Beneath all Beauty and Ugliness lies Fear or Boredom." (Tweet This)

Can't you see the fear and terror in 'Marie', Hyacinths girl and Madame Sosostris ? They all are scared of 'handful of dust' or crop of corpses. Fear is the key that operates Unreal City.

Hooded Man in Unreal City

Modern Man had no fear in his mind. So he had failed to understand the poem and its implications.

Ape Man could read his mind. He said "Fear is for us, for you it is Boredom. You went to commit suicide out of boredom."

Ape Man was about to explain boredom when he heard a roar of lion and eloped in the jungle. 

He asked Modern Man to contemplate about Mr. Prufrock while departing.

Mr. J A. Prufrock as symbol of Modern Man:

Mr. Prufrock in the poem “The Love Songs of J. A.Prufrock” by T.S.Eliot is also a symbol of Modern Man.He suffers the same dilemma which all the modern men suffer.

“Do I dare ? and do I dare?” is the anguish caused by a mental conflict. He is constantly forced to suppress his desire to act on natural instincts. His psyche is governed by Artificial Society which is the society of inhibitions and taboos. Modern Man wants to be rational and rebel against the irrational society but he is caught in the trap of his own mental make up which is framed by Artificial Society. He thus accepts his defeat and finds a cowardly escape in camouflaging his elemental passions behind the mask of being gentleman.

“Time yet for a hundred decisions
And for a hundred visions and revisions”

Modern Man has no paucity of time. He is not worried that time is fleeting. He is puzzled by immovability and timelessness of time. Geoffrey Bullough comments “ all wars are same war, all love making the same love making, all home coming the same home coming”.

Modern Man suffers from fear that is ecstatic. The thunder should awake a fear, but modern man due to ecstasy is unable the read the massage of  moment of thunder to surrender, release and wellbeing.

Another dilemma of Modern Man is of “folded double lie”. One is romantic lie of “Self Love” which is biggest hurdle on the path of “Universal Love”, second is “lie of Authority” which comes from State or Collective Man,neither of them really exist.

W.H.Auden in his poem September 1,1939 has given the final massage “We must love one another or die”. Though he was not sure about this doctrine and found it impracticable and deleted from the poem. This shows the importance of “Agape” if  you prefer theology.

No one exists alone. The future of entire human civilisation depends on application of Agape universally. Modern Man is blinded by Eros and though he talks of Agape but in reality neither he believes in it nor acts to implement it.

Modern Man thinks that a great poetic work was possible even if he did not believe in “Original Sin”. “The Fall” is not historic one time phenomenon but a continuous process for human civilisation.

© Vipin Behari Goyal
Advocate, Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur, India

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