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May 25, 1947 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1947-05-25

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Page Seveln

...Margery Wald

on which Bergson so insists. Super-
ficially events seem to recur, history
seems to repeat itself, or in another
sense, there is a repetitive cycle in all
human life. But really beneath the sur-
face of sameness this constant change
is going on, so that nothing ever occurs
twice in exactly the same way. Bergson
says it again and again.
"Our personality, which is being built
up each instant with its accumulated
experience, changes without ceasing.
By changing, it prevents any state,'
although superficially identical with
another, from ever repeating in its
very depth, That is why our duration
is irreversible."
Just as this is true of the individual,
it is even more true of the attempts to
match experience between people, of
trying to apply one's experiences to
those o another. So Bergson says,
"iere, on the contrary, the same
reasons may dictate to different per-
sons, or to the same person at dif-
ferent moments, acts profoundly dif-
ferent, although equally reasonable.
The truth is that they are not quite
the same reasons, since they are not
those of the same person, nor of the
same moment. That is why we can-
not deal with them in the abstract,
from outside, as in geometry. nor
solve for another the problems by
which he is faced in life. Each must
solive them from within, on his own
It is all this that comes out so clear-
ly in "E"st Coker." Eliot says,
"In succession
Houses rise and fal, crumble, are ex-
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or
in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-
iouses live and die: there is a time
or building
And a time for living and for gener-
And a time for the wind to break the
loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where the
f1i-mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras wov-
en with a silent motto."
All this suggests a sort of repetitive
pattern, a cycle of experience. Yet later
in the second section he voices the real-
ity beneath this change.
"There is, it seems to us,
At best only a lmited value
In the knowledge derived from ex-
The knowledge imposes a pattern,
and falsifies,
'For the pattern is new in every mom-
ad every moment is a new and
Valuation of all we have been. We
are only undeceived
of that which, deceiving, could no
longer harm"
This is as clear a statement of Berg-
son's theory as it is possible to find, I
think. iot then ends the poem with
another statement of tie motif,
"In my end is my beginning."
In "The Dry Salvages" the theme is
again time and the unceasing change
underlying life, again involved with
past and future. It is conceived in dif-
ferent terms and aimed at a different
end, yet the same viewpoint is obvious.
Eliot has couched it in terms of the
sea. Through these terms the two con-
epts of time, the mathematical and
the real, can be noticed.
"And under the oppression of the si-
lent fog
The tong bell
Measures time not our time, rung by
the unhurried
Ground swell, a time
lider than the time of chronometers,
Than time counted by anxious wor-

ried women
Lying awake, calculating the future,
Trying to unnerve, unwind, unravel
And piece together the past and the
Between midnight and dawn, when
the past is all deception
The future futureless, before the
morning watch
When time stops and time is never
And the ground swell, that is and was
from the beginning,
The bell."
The sense of the never-ending flow
of time is caught here completely.
One of the points on which Berg-
son is most insistent is the persistence
of the past into the present, preserved
by memory. This past is never really
forgotten; we cannot escape it. Yet the
survival of the past does not mean for
him that evolution has had only one
line of development from the lower to

same person, since they find him at a
new moment of his history."
Eliot phrases it in this way:
"Fare forward, travellers! not escap-
ing from the past
Into different lives, or into any fu-
You are not the same people who left
that station
Or who will arrive at any terminus,"
To grasp completely the very close
relationship between these two men it
is necessary to go beyond the con-
clusions Bergson arrived at in Creative
Evolution to his ultimate end which is
based upon these conclusions. Intuition
is the faculty by which we are enabled
to approach reality. It has not devel-
oped for practical reasons, as have the
intellect and instinct. That is, its mis-
sion is not to cope with matter and to
further evolution. Yet in a sense evo-
lution is heading toward a more com-
plete development of intuition. Certain
people, the true mystics, have already

The Red King
The bright red king on the chess board slept
While his scarlet queen to her dark square kept,
And across each diagonal bishop's row
The sturdy fortresses dared not go.
The Tweedles, with one ear to the ground,
Straddled the oak-carved chest around,
And laughed at Alice's horrified scream
When they told her the meaning of the monarch's dream.
"Why Tweedle-dum!" she stormed, "and Dee!
How stupid to tell me that I'm not me!
I really don't think it polite or kind
To call me a delusion in a chess king's mind,
"No, no!" wept Alice, and her face went white,
"I couldn't even cry, if you were right."
"Tee hee," they giggled with a nasty squeal,
"We hope you don't think those tears are real."
--Judith Laikin

more dominant, and, though the con-
cept of time as sketched before occas-
ionally protrudes, it is less noticeable
than in the other poems. And when
it emerges, it takes a slightly different
form, to fit in with the new emphasis.
Instead the idea of love in the Christian
sense becomes dominant. So he says,-
"This is the use of memory:
For liberation-not less of love but
Of love beyond desire, and so liber-
From the future as well as the past."
The new concept of love, with all its
religious, mystical connotations has in-
deed entered here, and this is much
more closely allied to Bergson's later
religious convictions than to his con
clusions in Creative Evolution.
In the last section, the time theme
emerges again clearly, and again it has
taken this definite religious turn.
"What we call the beginning is often
the end
And to make an end is to make a be-
The end is where we start from."
"A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for his-
tory is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the
.light fails
On a winter's afternoon, in a seclud-
ed chapel
History is now and England."
I have mentioned Bergson's religious
application of his theories, which be-
comes more fully developed in a boo
called The Two Sources of Morality and
Religion. Throughout the Four Quar-
tets there are numerous religious sym-
bols, and the whole takes on a highly
orthodox meaning. To translate Eliot'
symbols into a mystical concept is not,
I believe, incompatible' with the analy-
sis here presented. Bergson used his
concepts as a basis for his belief in the
mystical experience of an eternal life.
Eliot is making much the same con-
nection in these poems. As a whole
they are an attempt to describe the
vision of eternal life, life that is not
in time. To do so. Eliot tells what it
is not, and this is where the symbols
concerning this life enter the scheme.
Throughout the whole there are num-
erous references to the Bible, to St.
John, to Thomas Aquinas and to Christ-
ian doctrine. But this in no way con-
tradicts the interpretation here given
in Bergson's terms. Rather they com-
plement one another.
To show in detail the whole religious
significance of the Four Quartets would
be another study, and it would largely
repeat what has been said by Mr. Ray-
mond Preston in his book, 'Four Quar-
tets' Rehearsed. He has pointed out the
main references Eliot makes to religion
and the mystical conception on which
the poems are based. They in no way
negate any of the interpretations given
here, for these are the logical meta-
physical bases for the mystical con-
structions. One evidence of the close
connection occurs at the end of Mr.
Preston's discussion of "Burnt Norton,"
which he points out is the most ab-
stract, metaphysical of the group. He
is speaking about the last few lines and
has quoted the line,
"Quick now, here, now, always-"
He then says,
"The last line quoted-with its in-
itial suggestion of the darting of birds
-beautifully expresses the exultation
of the elusive moment of vision, and
in its last word, the complete calm of
the realization that the joy of the
spiritual birth, the joy of the full
consciousness is not in time."
This is simply one example. Both points
of view are necessary to a complete
understanding of the poems, but Mr.
Preston does not enlarge upon the Berg-
sonian concepts or point out the logical
basis for Eliot's theological convictions.

the higher. It has had many paths.
some of them blind alleys, and some
of the attributes from one line are pre-
served in others. It is not a simple,
direct growth, but a complex of lines of
"For life is tendency, and the es-
sence of a tendency is to develop in
the form of a sheaf, creating, by its
very growth, divergent directions
among which its impetus is divided.
This we observe in ourselves, in the
evolution of that special tendency
which we call our character."
This concept is caught in the second
section of "The Dry Salvages."
"It seems, as one becomes older,
That the past has another pattern,
and ceases to be a mere sequence-
Or even development; the latter a
partial fallacy,
Encouraged by superficial notions of
Which becomes, in the popular mind,
a means of disowning the past . .
I have said before
That the past experience revived in
the meaning-
Is not the experience of one life only
But of many generations-
People change, and smile: but the
agony abides.
Time the destroyer is time the pre-
The Bergsonian idea that the individ-
ual is constantly changing and that the
past is preserved in the present is again
expressed in the third section. Berg-
son,^it may be remembered, said:
"From this survival of the past it
follows that consciousness cannot go
through the same state twice. The
circumstances may still be the same,
but they will no longer act on the

achieved this and have thereby come
to a complete understanding of the ul-
timate reality of life, the fundamental
movement and constant change that is
consciousness. From here he -goes on to
construct a society based on this reality,
which has as its goal universal love. So
he becomes at the end of his develop-
ment a religious mystic, basing many of
his conclusions on the lives of the mys-
tics of the past, such as Christ, Buddha,
and St. Francis. This very brief analy-
sis will perhaps throw some light on the
concluding section of "The Dry Sal-
"Men's curiosity searches past and
And clings to that dimension. But
to apprehend
The point of intersection of the time-
With time, is an occupation for the
saint ...
For most of is. there is only the un-
Moment, the moment in and out of
time . . .
Here the impossible union
Of spheres of existence is actual,
Here the past and future
Are conquered, and reconciled,
Where action were otherwise move-
Of that which is only moved
And has in it no source of movement-
Driven by daemonic, chthonic
Powers. And right action is freedom
From past and future also.
For most of us, this is the aim
Never here to be realised;"
The connection with Bergson is not
quite so patent when we consider the
fourth poem in the series, "Little Gid-
ding" The religious theme has become

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