Eliot and Moral Decay

Where to lay the blame for moral decay? Over at Penllyn Studio there is an excellent article, Fidelity and the Cultural Shift, but I wanted to disagree a bit on the location of the blame 🙂  Whenever people have desired to have consequence free sex, they have found a way. And (at least according to my new favorite exposition on culture: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too)) People desire to have sex and no kids when their culture has arrived at despair. This feeling is really evinced in T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Here is a portion: (long portion… but worth reading and thinking about.)

II. A Game of Chess

The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne, 77
Glowed on the marble, where the glass
Held up by standards wrought with fruited vines
From which a golden Cupidon peeped out
(Another hid his eyes behind his wing)
Doubled the flames of sevenbranched candelabra
Reflecting light upon the table as
The glitter of her jewels rose to meet it,
From satin cases poured in rich profusion.
In vials of ivory and coloured glass
Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes,
Unguent, powdered, or liquid – troubled, confused
And drowned the sense in odours; stirred by the air
That freshened from the window, these ascended
In fattening the prolonged candle-flames,
Flung their smoke into the laquearia, 92
Stirring the pattern on the coffered ceiling.
Huge sea-wood fed with copper
Burned green and orange, framed by the coloured stone,
In which sad light a carvèd dolphin swam.
Above the antique mantel was displayed
As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene 98
The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king 99
So rudely forced; yet there the nightingale 100
Filled all the desert with inviolable voice
And still she cried, and still the world pursues,
‘Jug Jug’ to dirty ears.
And other withered stumps of time
Were told upon the walls; staring forms
Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed.
Footsteps shuffled on the stair.
Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair
Spread out in fiery points
Glowed into words, then would be savagely still.
‘My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.
‘Speak to me. Why do you never speak. Speak.
‘What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
‘I never know what you are thinking. Think.’
I think we are in rats’ alley 115
Where the dead men lost their bones.
‘What it that noise?’
The wind under the door. 118
‘What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?’
Nothing again nothing.
‘Do
‘You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
‘Nothing?’
I remember
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
‘Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?’ 126
But
O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag – 128
It’s so elegant
So intelligent
‘What shall I do now? What shall I do?’
‘I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
‘With my hair down, so. What shall we do tomorrow?
‘What shall we ever do?’
The hot water at ten.
And if it rains, a closed car at four.
And we shall play a game of chess, 138
Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.
When Lil’s husband got demobbed, I said –
I didn’t mince my words, I said to her myself,
HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME
Now Albert’s coming back, make yourself a bit smart.
He’ll want to know what you done with that money he gave you
To get herself some teeth. He did, I was there.
You have them all out, Lil, and get a nice set,
He said, I swear, I can’t bear to look at you.
And no more can’t I, I said, and think of poor Albert,
He’s been in the army for four years, he wants a good time,
And if you don’t give it him, there’s others will, I said.
Oh is there, she said. Something o’ that, I said.
Then I’ll know who to thank, she said, and give me a straight look.
HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME
If you don’t like it you can get on with it, I said.
Others can pick and choose if you can’t.
But if Albert makes off, it won’t be for a lack of telling.
You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique.
(And her only thirty-one.)
I can’t help it, she said, pulling a long face,
It’s them pills I took, to bring it off, she said.
(She’s had five already, and nearly died of young George.)
The chemist said it would be all right, but I’ve never been the same.
You are a proper fool, I said.
Well, if Albert won’t leave you alone, there it is, I said,
What you get married for if you don’t want children?
HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME
Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon,
And they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of it hot –
HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME
HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME
Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight.
Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.
Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.

From: http://eliotswasteland.tripod.com/

Now that was a lot of quote, but the direction of the current is clear, even though the poetry is dense and often intentionally inscrutable. From the opulence of the room to the woman who has withered herself in order to avoid having more children to the ADHD-like interruptions at the end; whenever a culture makes the Ecclesiastes discovery – that everything is meaningless, a chasing after the wind – they throw out their morals and they discard their hope for the future, the latter of which is most visible in childbearing. Without God, as I touched upon last post about the Higgs Boson, everything is meaningless, hopeless and nothing: so why have to deal with children just to experience a few years of sexual activity? So I think that the Pill, the laws, the media: it all sells a nihilistic culture what it wants.

Update: When you go over to read the Penllyn Studio article, do look at the artwork for sale: a fantastic example of artwork as a physical visual presentation of wholesome and true philosophy (and it is quite beautiful too…).

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4 responses to “Eliot and Moral Decay

  1. Great response. Allow me to clarify that my finger pointing at the media was not meant to be understood as all inclusive. Thanks. GRT

  2. Pingback: More on Moral Decay | The Dusty Thanes

  3. Thank you, this is a topic that is near to my heart.
    Where are your contact details though? My name’s Cleo Hailey and I’d love
    to discuss this more.

  4. Pingback: Exploring the Waste Land of Sky Crawlers « Medieval Otaku

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