Showing posts with label t.s.eliot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label t.s.eliot. Show all posts

Sunday 9 August 2015

Universal Human Laws in 'The Waste Land'

Universal Human Laws in the modern epic 'The Waste Land' by T.S. Eliot.

The connection between epic and myth is that of an egg and the chicken. Just as the famous riddle by Sphinx ("What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?"), whether the egg came first or the chicken is the riddle which puzzled many for centuries. Is myth the product of an epic or does epic sprout from the myth? The sphinx riddle was answered by Oedipus ("Human Being") and the 'egg-chicken' one by scientists ("Researchers found that the formation of egg shells relies on a protein found only in a chicken's ovaries. Therefore, an egg can exist only if it has been inside a chicken"). Similarly, we can say that myth pre-exist the epic. In fact, epic poet legitimizes myth as history or truth. The epic is the daughter of the mother, Myth/s. Thus, an epic can be studied as myth. The tools and theories to study myth can easily be applied to epic.  
Are myths / epic subtle codes that contain some universal truth? Are they a window on the deep recesses of a particular culture? Or are they just entertaining stories that people like to tell over and over? Functionalism explains human society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions, and institutions. A functionalist reading of myths/epic might extract the universal human laws.
Have a look at this presentation with various Universal Human Laws in 'The Waste Land'.

Universal Human Laws in The Waste Land (T.S. Eliot) from Dilip Barad

After studying these Universal Human Laws, would you like to give priority to the UHLs which you find more Universal than the other? Click this link to open an online form and give your priority:

Monday 1 December 2014

T. S. Eliot: Tradition and Individual Talent

Short Video Lectures and Quiz on T.S. Eliot's 
Tradition and Individual Talent (1919/1920-22)

T.S.Eliot’s “Tradition and Individual Talent” was published in 1919 in The Egoist - the Times Literary supplement. Later, the essay was published in The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism in 1920/2. (Gallup). This essay is described by David Lodge as the most celebrated critical essay in the English of the 20th century. The essay is divided into three main sections:
* the first gives us Eliot’s concept of tradition;
* the second exemplifies his theory of depersonalization and poetry. And in
* the third part he concludes the debate by saying that the poet’s sense of tradition and the impersonality of poetry are complementary things.
At the outset of the essay, Eliot asserts that the word ‘tradition’ is not a very favourable term with the English who generally utilize the same as a term of censure. The English do not possess an orientation towards criticism as the French do, they praise a poet for those aspects of the work that are individualistic.
 However, they fail to realize that the best and the most individual part of the poet’s work is that reflects maximum influence of writers of the past. Tradition does not imply a blind adherence to the literary tradition of the past tradition. This would amount to mere copying or slavish imitation.
For Eliot, Tradition has a three-fold significance. Firstly, tradition cannot be inherited and involves a great deal of labour and erudition. Secondly, it involves the historical sense which involves apperception not only of the pastness of the past, but also of its presence. Thirdly the historical sense enables a writer to write not only with his own generation in mind, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature from Homer down to the literature of his own country forms a continuous literary tradition.
As claimed by Chris Baldick that Eliot had created an inverted literary history in which history being second to the permanent quality of literature, is readjusted to accommodate it to literature. Therefore, Eliot’s conception of history is a dynamic one and not static; and is forever in a state of flux.

Short Video Lectures:

1. Introduction:

2. The Concept of Tradition:

3. Explanation of "Some can absorb knowledge, the more tardy must sweat for it":

4. Explanation of The Chemical Reaction: The theory of Depersonalization:

5. Summing up:

Critique of Eliot’s Critical Thought:
Until the middle of the last century, Eliot’s ideas of tradition were extraordinarily influential. His essay was a major contributor to Modernism’s rise and hegemony. Like its author, the essay came to be regarded as conservative, elitist, obsessed with order and backward-looking. (Gareth Reeves – T.S.Eliot and the Idea of Tradition in Patricia Waugh’s Literary Theory and Criticism)
Eliot’s theory of literary tradition has been criticized for its limited definition of what constitutes the canon of that tradition. He assumes the authority to choose what represents great poetry, and his choices have been criticized on several fronts. For example, Harold Bloom disagrees with Eliot’s condescension of Romantic poetry, which, in The Metaphysical Poets (1921) he criticizes for its "dissociation of sensibility." Moreover, many believe Eliot’s discussion of the literary tradition as the "mind of Europe" reeks of Euro-centrism. (on the same note it should be recognized that Eliot supported many Eastern and thus non-European works of literature such as the The Mahabharata. Eliot was arguing the importance of a complete sensibility: he didn't particularly care what it was at the time of tradition and the individual talent.) He does not account for a non-white and non-masculine tradition. As such, his notion of tradition stands at odds with feminist, post-colonial and minority theories. Kenyan author James Ngugi advocated (in a memo entitled "On the Abolition of the English Department") a commitment to native works, which speak to one’s own culture, as compared to deferring to an arbitrary notion of literary excellence. As such, he implicitly attacks Eliot’s subjective criterion in choosing an elite body of literary works. Post-colonial critic Chinua Achebe also challenges Eliot, since he argues against deferring to those writers, including Conrad, whom have been deemed great, but only represent a specific (and perhaps prejudiced) cultural perspective.
Harold Bloom (The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry:1975) presents a conception of tradition that differs from that of Eliot. Whereas Eliot believes that the great poet is faithful to his predecessors and evolves in a concordant manner, Bloom (according to his theory of "anxiety of influence") envisions the "strong poet" to engage in a much more aggressive and tumultuous rebellion against tradition.
In 1964, his last year, Eliot published in a reprint of The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism, a series of lectures he gave at Harvard University in 1932 and 1933, a new preface in which he called "Tradition and the Individual Talent" the most juvenile of his essays (although he also indicated that he did not repudiate it.)
However, now that the dust is settling, when postmodernism is retreating, when we are beginning to live comfortably with the fact of plurality and the notion of literatures rather than Literature, and with canons rather the Canon, it is possible to return to Eliot’s idea of tradition, as critics and theorists have been doing of late, from a more impartial perspective. 

After viewing these short videos on key concepts in the essay 'Tradition and Individual Talent', students shall give their responses to the below given questions/though provokers. The responses shall be given in the comments section below this blog.

  1. How would you like to explain Eliot's concept of Tradition? Do you agree with it?
  2. What do you understand by Historical Sense? (Use these quotes to explain your understanding)
    • "The historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence"
    • This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional
  3. What is the relationship between “tradition” and “the individual talent,” according to the poet T. S. Eliot?
  4. Explain: "Some can absorb knowledge, the more tardy must sweat for it. Shakespeare acquired more essential history from Plutarch than most men could from the whole British Museum".
  5. Explain: "Honest criticism and sensitive appreciation is directed not upon the poet but upon the poetry"
  6. How would you like to explain Eliot's theory of ddepersonalization? You can explain with the help of chemical reaction in presence of catalyst agent, Platinum.
  7. Explain: " Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality."
  8. Write two points on which one can write critique on 'T.S. Eliot as a critic'.


Click here to attempt the quiz on this essay.

Further Readings:

  • Brooks, Harold Fletcher. T. S. Eliot as Literary Critic. London: C. Woolf, 1987.
  • Rainey, Lawrence S. Institutions of Modernism: Literary Elites and Public Culture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.
  • Reeves, Gareth. T.S. Eliot and the Idea of Tradition. Ed. Patricia Waugh. An Oxford Guide: Literary Theory and Criticism. International Student Edition. 2006/7. OUP.
  • Shusterman, Richard. T. S. Eliot and the Philosophy of Criticism. London: Duchworth, 1988.
  • "T. S. Eliot." The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism. Ed. Michael Groden, Martin Kreiswirth, and Imre Szeman. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.
Citation credits:
Barad, Dilip. Short Video Lectures on T.S. Eliot. NMEICT Project Playlist. 2012.
Gallup, Donald. T. S. Eliot: A Bibliography (A Revised and Extended Edition) Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, 1969. pp. 27–8, 204–5 (listings A5, C90, C7)
IZQuotes-image credit:

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Presentations on T.S. Eliot's 'The Waste Land'

Presentations, Quiz and Points to Ponder on T.S. Eliot's 'The Waste Land'

1) "Shantih" in The Waste Land. Author(s): K. Narayana Chandran. Source: American Literature, Vol. 61, No. 4 (Dec., 1989), pp. 681-683. Published by: Duke University Press. Stable URL:
2) The Waste Land and the Upanishads : What Does the Thunder Say? Author(s): M. E GRENANDER and K. S. NARAYANA RAO. Source: Indian Literature, Vol. 14, No. 1 (MARCH 1971), pp. 85-98. Published by: Sahitya Akademi. Stable URL:
  1. 'The Waste Land' by T.S. Eliot
The literature is not only the mirror image of society. It can neither be limited to the metaphor of photographic representation, nor be limited to the lamp which brightens the corner of society or human nature. Sometimes, literature is the x-ray image of the society. The black and while skeleton of society. The ugly-but-real-at-its-core face of society is captured on transparent paper. The writer's eyes like an x-ray machine, penetrates deep and captures the nuances of social decay, moral decay and cultural decay. The rotten state of human life in the early quarter of the Twentieth century is meticulously captured by T.S. Eliot in 'The Waste Land - quite aptly known as 'The Modern Epic'. The root cause of this decay (social, moral and cultural) is spiritual degradation and sexual perversion. Is spiritual degradation the cause of sexual perversion or the effect of sexual perversion is due to spiritual degradation? It is not easy to answer this is simple cause-effect relationship. They both are interdependent. They have walked hand-in-hand, in past, they walk together in present and they will, if the lessons are not learnt from literature. People question the usefulness of 'Arts' in life. Can we find the answer art (verbal) like 'The Waste Land'.

An Introduction and Themati... by dilipbarad

2. Universal Human Laws in the Modern Epic 'The Waste Land'
Are myths subtle codes that contain some universal truth? Are they a window on the deep recesses of a particular culture? Or are they just entertaining stories that people like to tell over and over? The Waste Land not only makes extensive use of myths but also makes, a myth – the myth of the hollowness of Human Beings in Modern Times.The rituals of the modern men are mythified – which in turn attempts to legitimize it.Or rather it would be better to say: the rituals (sexual sins) are illegitimized in epic which is heavily drawn as modern day myth – the myth of decay, desolation and degeneration of human values, civilizations and cultures.As the poem operates in a dismantling way, rather than legitimizing, it illegitimizes the rituals of the Modern Times.

Universal Human Laws in T.S... by dilipbarad

3. Autobiographical Elements in T.S. Eliot's 'The Waste Land'
It is well said that “Honest criticism and sensitive appreciation is directed not upon the poet but upon the poetry” . . . and . . . “Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality”.Consciously, the poet should make such attempts . . . But the Un/Subconscious is not under the control and commands of Conscious Mind. It finds it outlet in the expression. At the very moment when, quite  consciously, the poet has surrendered itself to the process of creation, it leaks out – it finds its moment of expression. T.S. Eliot, the high priest of the school of depersonalization is also not free from the ‘Un/Subconscious overflow of powerful self . . . Which can only be recollected in tranquility by the biographical critics’.

Autobiographical Elements i... by dilipbarad

4. Shantih:

Three kinds of children of Praja-pati, Lord of Children, lived as Brahman-students with Praja-pati their father: the gods, human beings, the demons.—Living with him as Brahman students, the gods spake, 'Teach us, Exalted One.'—Unto them he spake this one syllable Da. 'Have ye understood?'—'We have understood', thus they spake, 'it was damyata, control yourselves, that thou saidest unto us.'—'Yes', spake he, 'ye have understood.' Then spake to him human beings, 'Teach us, Exalted One.' —Unto them he spake that selfsame syllable Da. 'Have ye understood?'— 'We have understood', thus they spake, 'it was 
datta, give, that thou saidest unto us.'—'Yes', spake he, 'ye have
understood.' Then spake to him the demons, 'Teach us, Exalted One.' —Unto them he spake that selfsame syllable Da. 'Have ye 
understood?'—'We have understood', thus they spake, 'it was 
dayadhvam, be compassionate, that thou saidest unto us.'—'Yes*, spake he, 'ye have understood.' This it is which that voice of god repeats, the thunder, when it rolls 'Da Da Da,' that is damyata datta dayadhvam. Therefore these three must be learned, self-control, giving, compassion. ~ Charles Rockwell Lanman, former Wales Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University and Eliot's teacher of Sanskrit and Buddhism

Ezra Pound and the drafts of The Waste Land

Points to ponder:

1) What are your views on the following image after reading 'The Waste Land'? Do you think that Eliot is regressive as compared to Nietzche's views? or Has Eliot achieved universality of thought by recalling mytho-historical answer to the contemporary malaise?
T.S. Eliot and F. Nietzche
2) Prior to the speech, Gustaf Hellström of the Swedish Academy made these remarks:
T.S. Eliot and S. Freud
What are your views regarding these comments? Is it true that giving free vent to the repressed 'primitive instinct' lead us to happy and satisfied life? or do you agree with Eliot's view that 'salvation of man lies in the preservation of the cultural tradition'?

3) Write about allusions to the Indian thoughts in 'The Waste Land'. (Where, How and Why are the Indian thoughts referred?)

4) Is it possible to read 'The Waste Land' as a Pandemic Poem?

Key to draft your response:
1) Introductory paragraph > Write about the poem in 50 words > Write about the central theme of the poem.
2) Sub-heading for your response to point no.1 > then explain the point > thereafter express your views.
3) As above for other three points . . .

Video Recordings of Online Remote Teaching:


Reading 'The Waste Land' through Pandemic Lens - Part 1

Reading 'The Waste Land' through Pandemic Lens - Part 2

Thursday 24 July 2014

Quiz as an Effecting Teaching, Learning and Assessment Tool

As necessary as ongoing assessment is for both teachers and students, many teachers complain that constant testing stifles their creativity and destroys student interest, at a time when motivation is mandatory for the current crop of media-saturated students. So, how can teachers assess student learning and evaluate the quality of their own teaching, without losing the interest of their students?[1] (Romo).

It is not a question without an answer. The answer is plain, simple and straightforward. Use Quiz!

It helps to ensure that students understand what you are teaching and -- when they don’t -- to understand where your teaching has missed the mark. (Romo).
Moreover, it helps students to check their progress and assess their need to pay attention in classroom discussions.

Here are some interesting outcome of our experiment of ‘Using Quiz for Teaching’:

·        Students identified and rated following benefits of using Quiz in teaching:
o   It helps to do follow-up reading, everyday, after face-2-face classroom discussion
o   It helps in increased concentration in classroom interaction
o   It improves reading habits as they read with specific purpose to find specific information.
o   It cultivates the habit of taking running notes while the face-2-face classroom interaction is going on.

As students voted for Unit-End-Quiz, we have put it in practice rather than daily or weekly quizzes

It is observed that ‘this approach encourages collaborative learning and creates a sense of community among the students. It also gets students coming to class prepared, and I think it makes the quizzes a more positive and useful learning experience’[2]. (Deterding)

Here are the links to visit the quiz pages:

Works Cited:

Deterding, Audrey. A New Kind of “Space” for Quizzes. 26 Jan 2012. 24 July 2014 <>.

Romo, Sandra. Using Quizzes to Measure Teaching Effectiveness: How Do You Measure Up? 8 Aug 2010. 24 July 2014 <>.

[1] See more at:[2] Reprinted from Deterding, A. (2010) A New Kind of “Space” for Quizzes. The Teaching Professor, 24 (9), 6. - See more at:

Tuesday 30 July 2013

3: Naturography, Tennis, Monsoon & Workshop

Academic Year 2013-14:
Post 3: Florescence, Rain-tennis, Teaching & Workshop
Florescence: July 2013

The week (22-27 July 2013) was the week full of showers and drizzles. The Rain-God seems to be happy this year. The flora surrounding the Department of English has blossomed in this 'season of mist and mellow fruitfulness' (Keats' To Autumn). One can but not escape from the memory of Wordsworth's 'Daffodils' -  "Fluttering and dancing in the breeze . . . Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. . . the bliss of solitude . . . And then my heart with pleasure fills, . . . And dances with the daffodils."

Nature has curious ways to teach lesson to humans.

Wordsworth has truly said in 'Tabled Turned': "Let Nature be your teacher . . .spontaneous wisdom breathed by health, truth breathed by cheerfulness . . .It may teach you more of man, of moral evil and of good, than all the sages can . . . Come forth, and bring with you a hearth that watches and receives." How true! How come the vine of flower crept up to the CCTV camera to give us an oxymoron image? How paradoxical is this image - either you call it security or spy camera, it connotes fear & faithlessness - and the lavender flower among green leaves - stands for innocence, beauty & truth! So much of precautions, so much of fear, so much of doubt, so less of trust, so less of reliance! Lavender or green, rocky or leafy, fair or coarse; Nature do not differentiate! And we, the humans, live with walls made up of caste, creed, colour, religion, gender and nationalities; and do not even care to 'mend' the wall!
Well, the tiny little grass with six leaves has great message for those who find that their circumstances and situations are worst among all. Amidst rock solid stones, this soft and fine tissue - nature's beloved little child  - has defiantly sprung out. Perhaps, smilingly says: 'you still have better cards then mine.'

If the monsoon brings heaven on the earth with its beauteous splendour, it also brings in hurdles for out-door games. Many of the tennis-players of clay or grass courts will be having their monsoon vacation, we, the players of tar-cement court, do not take break from playing.
Sports is an addiction, though a healthy one. It is not only the physical fitness which tempts me to procrastinate all important work in the morning hours. Rather, it is psychological relief, a cathartic release from the repressed angst and anxiety. Had I not been playing Tennis, I would have been a spoilsport in relationships. Greeks were true lover of sports-culture. They mothered Olympics. I do not know why, but we do not have sports-culture. 
Thanks to NDTV and Ranbir Kapoor for the campaign - Marks for Sports. Yes, there should be equal marks for those who appear in term-end exams and those who disappear from the class to play games. If you agree, like this Facebook page.

Well, coming to the task of teaching, it was quite wonderful week. Semester 1 students keenly participated in the discussion on Plato's objection to poetry and Aristotle's answer to his Guru. Yes, the week began with Guru-Purnima (22 July). The example of Aristotle's disagreement with his Guru and his giving him fitful answers is one of the best things for students to imbibe. We, rather, believe in too much of obeyance, which does not allow us to disagree with our teachers (Guru). Yes, teachers (Guru) should be honoured and respected, if they deserve; but to obey them in all regards, is not digestible idea. Bowing down breeds slave-culture. Standing head and shoulder with Guru, looking straight into his eyes breeds the culture of leaders. Choice is ours; decent looking slave-culture or defiantly posing leaders. Now, wee cannot afford yet another slavedom.
The chief point of discussion was 'Plato's objection to poetry and Aristotle's defence'. It was observed that Plato confused the study of morals/ethics with that of aesthetics. Aristotle removed the confusion and established study of aesthetic on higher pedestal as compared to philosophy and history. The presentation can be viewed here:

The discussion on Plato's objection to poetry in particular and literature in general, was like dust raising wind. Several of students shared their personal experience on how books helped them fight their personal battles with circumstances. We viewed some thought provoking videos by Chinese Lisa Bu's TED talk on 'How Books can Open Mind' and Jessica Wise's animation on 'How Fiction can change Reality'. The videos are available on YouTube and are embedded here:

Most of the students did not agree with Plato's objection. We do not agree with an Utopian idea of state without poets! Plato confused the study of aesthetics with that of morals & ethics. Aristotle removed that confusion and established literature as the study of aesthetic with specific purpose to please / give aesthetic delight, and not to instruct. Instructions may be given as by product but the ruling principle should be pleasure/delight. Though Aristotle, in his characteristic golden mean approach, seem to give equal importance to delight and moral sense/ moral purpose (instruction). But the question remains to be self-examined: 'Isn't Plato still alive in us?' We love and revere those poets who speak honey to our heart and soothing songs to our souls. But, what if some comes with an axe to break the frozen ice or with hammer to reshape our culturally conditioned minds? Well, the Platonic objection raises like the phoenix from the ashes and cries for the banishment of the breeder of falsehood and the mother of all lies! The writers in exile was reality, is reality and will forever be so. Click these links if you doubt my words:

So, can we say: Plato's truth was truer than Aristotle's? Please post your views in the 'comments' below this post, if you have any say in this matter.

In Semester 3, we concluded discussion on T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. This class is 'clam and free'. Rarely have questions. When students do not question, it is a kind of uncanny feeling which confuses the teacher. The teacher cannot make out whether s/he is so lucid and clear that an obscure poem like 'The Waste Land' has been chewed and digested, almost effortlessly; or the students have understood nothing that that can raise doubt or question in their minds! And I fear the later. 

The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot from Dilip Barad

I cannot end this post without the mention of the last day of the week - Saturyday 27th July. The C.O. Jani College of Computer Science invited us to organise workshop on language, soft skills, effective presentation skills and basics on CV, Resume & BioData. Nishant Pandya - fromer student and a faculty of Mahuva BBA/BCA College, dealt interestingly with 'English is not a Language but Languages….
The presentation deals with variants of English language. Language refashions her shape according to social and cultural requirements. Individuals differ in the manner in which they speak, although usually not markedly within a small area. The differences among groups of speakers in the same speech community can, however, be considerable. Heenaba Zala, visiting faculty, Dept. of English, MK Bhavnagar University, made beautiful presentation on 'Soft Skills'. Her presentation can be viewed here: 

The ACE of soft skills: Enhancing Employability from Heenaba Zala

Apart from these presentations, there was something to make us proud. Six of our students make wonderful presentations. Yashpalsinh Gohil, Pratipalsinh Chudasama, Devendra Joshi & Kaushal Desai prepared very engrossing presentation with appropriate images and videos on 'How to make effective PowerPoint Presentation?' Their presentation can be viewed here:

Pratiksha Solanki and Drashti Dave made presentation on 'The Definitions and Differences: Resume, C.V., Bio Data & ePortfolio'. Their presentation can be viewed here: 

Resume/ CV/ Bio-data Differences & e-Portfolio.. from solankipratiksha

Teachers & PG students interacting with UG students of Computer Science