Forward, into the past

“The emotion of art is impersonal. And the poet cannot reach this impersonality without surrendering himself wholly to the work to be done. And he is not likely to know what is to be done unless he lives in what is not merely the present, but the present moment of the past, unless he is conscious, not of what is dead, but of what is already living.” — Eliot, “Tradition and the Individual Talent”

Plus ca change

“In the family, schools and churches, tyrannies have been set up which have vested interests in mental stupor and convention, and which permeate the atmosphere with cant and hypocrisy convenient to themselves.” — from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, regarding the targets of George Meredith’s writings (most notably, Erewhon) in the late 19th century

Traversing the desert without a compass

“Every work of art, even though it is produced by following an explicit or implicit poetic of necessity, is effectively open to a virtually unlimited range of possible readings, each of which causes the work to acquire new vitality in terms of one particular taste, or perspective, or personal performance.” — Umberto Eco, “The Poetics of the Open Work”

Subliminality, Transliminality

“Greek tragedy was rooted in the empirical observation that there is no relationship between justice and suffering. Tragedy confronts us with our frailties and limits and the disastrous consequences of trying to exceed them. It advances a counter-intuitive thesis: that efforts to limit suffering through the accumulation of knowledge or power might invite more suffering.” — Richard Ned Lebow, The Tragic Vision of Politics

We pronounced it differently in grad school

“Since men cannot be aware of everything, their words, speech and writing can mean something that they themselves did not intend to say or write….  Not occasionally only, but always, the meaning of a text goes beyond its author.” — Kermode in The Art of Telling, quoting Gadamer in Truth and Method (trans. from Wahrheit und Methode by Barden and Cumming), quoting and summarizing Chaldenius, who probably wrote in Latin as he was writing in the mid-18th century