“no then of winter equals now of spring”
“It is hard to know the difference between body / and story, even though I have one” (“Some Containers and Ways to Make Them Spill” in Here Come the Waterworks)
These aperçu of the passage of time and the intertwining of body and story are worth keeping in mind when reading this bit about the Narcissus-themed approach to subjectivity in T.S. Eliot.
As Narcissus knows, to love oneself is to dream oneself away: “I would that my love were absent from me.” To write is to inscribe one’s absence from oneself: temporal division, for the self that was eludes the self that is, while the written and the writing selves can never coincide; spatial division, for writing externalizes memory and halts the flux of subjectivity.
Maud Ellman. “The spider and the weevil: self and writing in Eliot’s early poetry” in Post-structuralist Readings of English Poetry edited by Richard Machin and Christopher Norris.
I am intrigued here by the punctuation. A colon before the temporal division and a semi-colon before the spatial division. A typographical trick sitting along different borders that hints at different temporalities and dimensions at play in these divisions along the writing/written axis. And so we turn to the editors in their introduction to recall the very malleable notion that is subjectivity.
And just as the developmental history of the subject is defined by developmental changes in what the subject knows, so our notion of subjectivity is itself produced, and threatened, by what we know and by how we account for our knowledge. In a subject-centred universe knowledge, understanding and personal identity are held in a disconcertingly fine balance. This is perhaps why it seems so important for us to maintain a coherent picture of literary history, with a firm if diffuse basis in the past and a sharp relevance in the present. Take away that coherence, and we are in danger of falling off the top of the pyramid.
I am puzzled by the figure of the pyramid. It stems from the three sides that are understanding, personal identity and knowledge. I am more of the mind that one holds the pyramid in hand and turns it to view its facets. It is not so much a question of being on top but one of vis-a-vis. In the tetrahedron under question I can make out three sides (personal identity, knowledge, understanding) and one unnamed side. I risk to venture that that unnamed side is accounting or the telling or the narration. How then to turn to the question of halting and externalizing memory except to bring into conjunction this externalizing of memory with narration? We have here something more complex than a written-writing pair. There is at play on these surfaces signified-signifier relations. Halting and coherence are temporary site-specific moments.
And so for day 1328