SERIATIM BURBANK Taken from posts sent to the TSE listserv by Guy Story Brown in May & June, 1998 Re: Re: The Brown Reading -Reply To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: Re: Re: The Brown Reading -Reply From: STORYBROWN Date: Tue, 26 May 1998 12:06:18 EDT
Dear List, I began by responding to what I took to be Isaac Gewirtz' invitation to "look at the poem' ["Burbank"], and now I would like to take up the explicit invitation (I've forgotten from whom--my mailbox is swamped) to give a point- by-point look at this work along the general thematic lines I laid down. The result is longish, if abbreviated, and often rather staccato. I appreciate your keen interest and your patience, and I hope you are not disappointed by my effort. I especially appreciate Ken Armstrong's encouragement, and also many of Pat Sloane's observations. I will begin at the beginning, with the title.
Eliot’s poem “Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar” consists of ten parts: the title, a complex, layered epigraph, and eight quatrains. I will take up each of these parts seriatim in this reading of the poem. I will try not to repeat any of what I have already sufficiently said on the list about this piece, or repeat what others have said about it either here or elsewhere.
The bracketed and generally telegraphic style of the reading’s glosses and running scholia may become distracting at times [apologies, and please correct spelling errors in whatever language], but I believe that, at least for students already well versed in the conventional interpretations and familiar with what is called “the literature” about the work and its Eliotic themes, it will, with due patience and consideration, provide much the quickest and simplest route into the poem as I see it.
“Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar,” T.S. Eliot , *Arts and Letters* 1919
Title [“Face” (Fr.), per head of a coin] “Burbank with a Baedecker”: “Burbank,” Luther, an American, alive at the time of the poem’s publication, who was famous for his botany, i.e., a scientific student of plants & trees. “Burbank” is, in the first place, an eponymous contemporary American studying trees in Venice, particularly, as will be noted in the proper place, the “axletree” in the third stanza, in connection with the divine foundation of St. Mark’s Cathedral, and the “piles” in the sixth stanza, in connection with the unstable foundations of the commercial republic.
“Burbank” is, also, the name of a city (without any culture [=Pound’s “kulchur” and more, not Arnold’s] to speak of: “cultureless”), which, found “with a Baedecker” or atlas, is seen to lie near Hollywood on the far western (Pacific) edge (“bank”) of European Christendom. It is the far west of the West, which the Germans call “Abendland” (sp? “the evening land,” where the sun goes down), land of the dead, the (western, sundown) side of the Nile on which the Egyptians design their necropolis: the tomb place, the “other side.”
“Bur-” (=shell, seed husk, “tomb”), met: “restless,” “-bank” (the characteristic institution of modernity, rooted especially in Venice), in one of which branches (banks have branches like trees or vines--like the church of Christ: they are an ersatz church and discipline: investing for future [earthly] rewards, &c) the author was restlessly (spending valuable time on poetry!) employed-buried when this poem was composed and published. “Burbank,” the contemporary student of Venetian wood, is Eliot as subject. “Baedeker” (“Guide to Kulchur”), earnest guide for the touring educated bourgeoisie: a _good_ (in those days=a Teutonic-type) guide, of which Baedeker was in 1919 the popular commonplace). For the reader as Burbank: a sort of guide for “the Perplexed.” It is to the Baedeker and not, say, Henry James, to which one would turn to learn something about Venice and the evangelist Mark.
[“Pil ou face” (Fr.) sp? “flip side”] colon (=Burbank with a Baedeker), "Bleistein with a Cigar”
Bleistein =“Lead stone” (=rock, we should always think of the biblical “Peter”) that smokes like a candle, like the bush that burned or the rock that gave water. Where is the fire/light, the spirit, the “ghost in the machine”? The “Living Stone” (cf. 1 Peter 2:4-8: “living stone”), &c. The two parts of the poem are those of the City (part 2) and Man (part 1). “Burbank” is also “the city”; for Greeks and Romans, ultimately Troy (Ilos); “Bleistein” is also “the man.”
These remarks, like the title itself, will become increasingly transparent as the quatrains are read.
Epigraph (2 Peter 1:1-9) The Perspective of Mantegna [Face:] Our true life is like Mantegna’s candle with St. Sebastian, saviour of cities: animal life is fleeting; art is long; only the divine is immortal (“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”; cf. 1 Peter 1:24). [Pil ou face:] Carnival time--anticipating the Passion (=suffering, martyrdom, self-discipline), in the alleged locale of the ashes of St. Mark the Evangelist, “Winged Lion” (symbol of Christ, royal blood of Judah)--a mask of the “eternal now” and of persons who are _now_ present. Part One: Stanzas 1-4. ”Bleistein”: the New Man: City of God (Three Days)
First stanza 1. _Burbank crossed a little_ [land] _bridge_ [after gondola-ing Atlantic canal/ after “crossing the bar”] 2. _Descending at a small hotel_ [viz., principal Baedeker entry re: Venice: St Mark’s on the great Venetian square. The famous throne in St. Mark’s basilica exhibits a celebrated carving on the backrest of the Tree of Life--maybe Burbank went to study this.] 3. _Princess_ [royal] _Volu-pine_ [Lat. “volup/tas”=“pleasure,” “delight”] arrived [i.e., to greet him. She arrived via boat: St. Mark weathered many great sea tempests in his travels, and where Venice is concerned, he showed up and sailed or was gondola-ed (sp?) around to save the city and its people in the nick of time. Once, however, he descended from heaven to save a condemned slave.] 4. _They were together, and he fell_ [=was immersed in joy, i.e., baptized/ buried. Mark 1:4: baptism, Princess Volupine is a figure of the Holy Spirit. Eliot is remarkable in depicting this aspect of the Trinity as female].
Second stanza (first day: “slowly...”) 5. _Defunctive music under sea 6. Passed seaward with the passing bell_ [the “old man” is washed away...] (NB: In taking part of the action under the surface, the author indicates for the reader that part of the meaning of the poem is necessarily hidden, and hence invites him to call the surface meaning into question, or to proceed circumspectly. I will here be concerned only with what most clarifies the “ultimate” meaning.)
7. _Slowly: the God Hercules_ [Dionysos/Osirus=pagan religion; cf. 2 Peter 1:16; “clever myths...” (I set aside consideration of the play of St _Mark_ as against _Marc_ Antony, and related issues)] 8. _Had left him, that had loved him well._ [and the “new man” that is born/raised up... cf. 1 Peter 1:23: “imperishable seed” (=”bur”)]
Third stanza (second day: “dawn...”) 9. _The horses, under the axletree_ [the sun’s chariot on St. Mark’s door (the pagan Helios’ chariot and all- seeing eye in the sky (cf. the pyramid-eye on a US $1 bill) is become Son’s chariot; “Star of Bethlehem”: Jesus: the eyes we must see with hic et nunc) lifts him (the “new man”) _above_ (=carries him deeper below, in the tomb & sea) the mundane sky upon the “axletree” (=here: the Cross [tree] of Christ at Calvary, on which the world turns), and] 10 _beat up the dawn from Istria_ [=shames Eos, “rosy-fingered Aurora,” &c, and any putative birthstar of “divine” Augustus (Plutarch): darkness at the crucifixion of Jesus] 11. _With even feet._ [=Eos unrisen, darkness; Jesus feet nailed together so the knees sag. If it is to one’s taste, the 2-3 stanzas may be read as hymns to sensual immersion a la Antony & Cleopatra: _honi soit qui mal y pense_(sp?) (Shakespeare’s Ovidian gambit, from the motto of the Order of St. George [whom St. Mark brought to Venice once to save it] and ultimately the Epistle of Titus 1:15: to the pure in heart, all things are pure), and Numbers 15:39: “...the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.”] _...Her shuttered barge 12. Burned on the water all the day_ [Venice/St. Mark’s: the Princess Volupine’s barge and the tomb, illuminated/lit by the Son’s light, invisible to those who do not see it, enraptured in eternal heavenly joy]
Fourth Stanza (third day) [and the “new man” that is born/raised up from the tomb/water... (from stanzas1- 2) is not the mythic Cephalus or Tithonus with Eos (from stanza 3), nor, more importantly, is it the “world-historic” Emperor Caesar Augustus (from stanzas 2-3): it is...”Bleistein,” whose way is not the way of Caesar/Antony, but “other” (Bear in mind also Aristotle’s remark in the _Politics_ that the genuinely surpassing human being who is not a philosopher [sc. in the strict Pythagorean-Platonic-Aristotelian sense] would be either a beast or a god)] 13. _But this or such was Bleistein’s way:_ [the actual Passion, not a painting, and Jesus’ actual compassion, not a bromide] 14. _A saggy bending of the knees [Peter, the Christ-like crucifixion of the submitted “old man”/Lamb of God] 15. And elbows, with the palms turned out,_ [supplication and invitation, the traditional depiction of Jesus] 16. _Chicago Semite Viennese._ [=the true Christian everyman, follower of the way, not the merely born or nominal or any other kind of “Christian” but the truly “other,” to as far west as one can go--Burbank--and beyond the starry “axletree” As an everyman follower of the way, Eliot is like a “Bleistein.”] Bleistein is Eliot, but he is not the same as “Burbank,” who is also Eliot. Burbank is with the Princess in Stanzas 1-3, where Bleistein is not; and he is not (visible) in stanza 4, where Bleistein is. The only way to see/know that Burbank is present and sees Bleistein in 4, is to see Bleistein as the Crucified Christ depicted in the church, i.e., to be there, or to “fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:18). How can one truly be there? i.e., not merely follow Burbank into the church here by investigation? “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light [sc. the temple of God]. But if your eyes are bad. your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Jesus quoted at Matthew 6:22-23. Then follows the famous sentence, the theme of the _Merchant of Venice_ : “No man can serve two masters....you cannot serve both God and Money.” And he elsewhere famously distinguished between His things, all the things belonging to God, on the one hand, and the things belonging to Caesar, the face on the coin, ignoring any image or motto of the divine similarly on coins. (Incidentally, in connection with Antony in the earlier stanzas, after Cleopatra delivered his twins, he married Octavian’s sister Octavia in order to insure his position with the rising kinsman of Julius Caesar, and issued coins bearing the likeness of Octavia, perhaps the first such, it is said--the “things belonging to Caesar” are feminine as well as masculine.) If one does not see this, but seeks and sees something else, whether out of spite or pride, one may be blinded by something in the eye. There is a famous NT passage to this effect about judging others and oneself. But it is more apt here to recall the view put forth by Bush as an ironic query: are we here and in the following 5th stanza being asked “to share in Burbank’s disain for Bleistein’s philistinism?” in the light of the famous NT passage condemning the ostentatious Pharisee who wore his learning and legalism on his sleeve and thanked God that he was not like other men. Bleistein himself is only and always “now,” always the “new man” who is born of the action depicted in stanzas 1-3/4. Yet, of course, if he is always “now,” then always was (“before the creation of the world,” 1 Peter 1:20) and always will be (generally John 1:1ff, &c; stanza 7, and all the stanzas). “Bleistein” is a figure of Jesus Christ, who lives in his people (1 Peter 2:9-10: “a royal priesthood...called out of the darkness into his light”), male: Burbank:Bleistein, Sir Ferdinand Klein (the royal common man: there’s the oxymoron, whoever on the list was speaking about oxymorons: stanzas 7-8, cf., my reference to Auerbach in an earlier post); and female: Princess Volupine (all the stanzas). To annotate the line (viz. 16) fully, over against, e.g., the indefatigable Southam’s: “Chicago and Vienna are cities with large and distinctive Jewish populations,” &c&c, begin with the middle term (qv in your Copi, _Logic_, or Aristotle and the Scholastics &c): _Semite_. To say nothing of various others here, _Semite_ includes Jews, certainly, descendants of those with a claim of the promise of Israel, but is also more than merely Jews, e.g., the Samaritans, remnants of the nation of Israel, kingdom of the 10 northern Hebrew tribes, are equally semites (perhaps as, in some relevant sense, are the Falashas of Ethiopia). Bleistein is _The Semite._ See, John 4:19-26 in this connection, _The Jew’s_ conversation at Jacob’s Well with the Samaritan (!!) woman (!!!) who had more than one husband (%*!#@!), which conversation is most apt here (l.16, also line 22 and the 8th quatrain, as I will show at the proper place.): _Sir, the woman said...Our fathers_ (=the Kingdom of Israel) _worshipped_ [built the temple] _on this mountain_ [near Shechem, qv. also OT: “Shechemites,” “Dinah”], _but you Jews_ [=Kingdom of Judah, the two southern Hebrew tribes] _claim that the place where we_ [=hiers of the covenant of God & the house of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob] _must worship is in Jerusalem_ [viz. the city of David where David’s son Solomon built the big temple (like Pharoah, and divided the kingdom in the process), that was later restored by Ezraand Nehemiah, and again, in specifically the building the Samaritan woman is talking about, by Herod. Incidentally, the Herodians, Roman appointees, were of no royal blood: this is the issue brought to Pilate, Caesar’s Procurator in the province of Judea, by the Herodians and Sanhedrin: Jesus is of David’s line, the royal blood: he is executed by Caesar’s law as “King of the Jews.”] _Jesus answered her “Believe me, woman, a time is coming whem you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem....A time is coming when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth...._ Then she speaks to Jesus of the Messiah who is awaited by the Samaritans as by all Hebrews and who who will teach this, and Jesus answers her. Among other things in this respect, as we know, Jesus teaches that the body itself is the true temple and tabernacle. How the spirit and truth dwell in the temple (the body, the “ghost in the machine,” &c) is a mystery: the accounts of it are thematic in the OT. It is treated similarly in the NT as, among other things, light in the darkness, and specifically, in terms immediately relevent here, of candles and candlesticks (e.g. Matt 5:14-16). In line 16, then, to annotate: _....Semite...._ -- _The Jew_ (l.24), Jesus Christ and Him crucified--is the (candle-) light (5th stanza) that illuminates the union of: _Chicago_, long before and after “Burbank’s” publication in 1919 the world’s greatest stockyard and transit point for beef on the hoof and for butchering [the largest railroad yards ever built were necessary to handle shipments of Texas and other cattle herds, the second largest were in Kansas City, Mo., St. Louis’ civic rival] and also milk cows, of course, and hides--in short, the great city of (“animal”) bodies and flesh--on the one hand, and _Vienna_, the city of Freud (and Jung, Adler, Reich, and whoever else) and their “discovery” (=reduction) of the nonmaterial “subconscious” (=ersatz “soul,” “spirit,” the more-than-”animal”): the city of the psyche, or anyway the psychiatric. Jesus Christ incarnates the perfect union of these “cities,” body and soul, flesh and spirit as the “City” of God (Augustine). He is The Man: the (non- aestheticist) teacher of humanity created in His image of what a pure and true man is like “inside,” beginning at the beginning with submission before God: the Way of the True Man, image and essence. This incarnate oneness and figural trinity is gramatically indicated by the lack of punctuation: all are capitalized not only as proper names but as equally beginnings of the sentence qua complete thought and the final period after completes them all as one and the same thought: the city of God. Behind this Eliotic line, beneath this whole stanza and the whole poem, is the thought expressed by John (Revelation 1:7): One day every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the peoples of the earth...”
Part Two: stanzas 5-8. ”Burbank”: the City, or the City of Man (=in need of a saviour) (“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day,” 2 Peter 3:8-9, and context) Fifth Stanza (End of Time) Gloss: Turning from the depiction of the Incarnation and Crucifixion to a depiction of the city today, Burbank is reminded of the need for a saviour of cities (St. Sebastian) 17. _A lustreless protrusive eye 18. Stares from the protozoic slime_ [Viz: Psalm 139:13-16, and context: “For you created my innermost being, you knit me together in my mothers womb....When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body...”] This is the perspective of Mantegna, which I believe I have discussed in earlier posts: the perspective most instructive (without being simply didactic), the perspective within which the perspective of Canaletto appears fully and without any deformation for what it is. Mantegna appeals to Bleistein-Eliot. In a letter he wrote in 1920 (in connection with Wyndham Lewis’ at-risk “classical” potential), Eliot said: “Mantegna is a painter for whom I have a particular admiration--there is none who appeals to me more strongly.” Then, as commenators note, he asks whether the reader knows Mantegno’s St Sebastian in Venice, to which reference is made in the poem’s epigraph. Before the war (1914), Eliot had written to a correspondent that looking in Belgian museums he had seen “_treasures_....really great stuff....And O a wonderful _Crucifixion_ of Antonello of Messina. There are _three_ great _St. Sebastians_ (so far as I know): 1) Mantegna 2) Antonello of Messina 3) Memling” (p. 41 of the Letters). Eliot worked for a time on a “Love Song of St. Sebastian,” which he apparently never published but which, from the lines included in the “enclosure” with Eliot’s 1914 letter to Aiken mentioning a working title “Descent from the Cross,” is very interesting, with themes along the lines of Shakespeare’s sonnet 19, which is alluded to at the end of “Burbank.” Letters, pp.46-47. 19. _At a perspective of Canaletto_ [in which perspective St. Mark’s is but one fine thing among many others, indeed, less fine than the city itself, which is incomparable and sits upon the waters just as Zion upon the axletree: the city, center of the world, _is_ very heaven. Mais, “Ceci (=a canvas of Canaletto) n’est pas un pipe (=the heavenly city)” (Fr. sp?)] Is not Canaletto the inspiration and envy of every Italian restaurant muralist in Southern California? 20. _The smokey candle end of time_ [Psalms 94, beginning “The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty,” vv. 9b-10: “Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish?” The original eye, which sees by the light of Christ, sees that the “realism” of Canaletto’s humanistic Venice is in fact doctored with heavy cosmetics i.e., it is merely an “idealization,” however lasting its expression it is not truth, not heavenly. Rather, it...] Stanza 6 (Rome, Venice, Britain... Burbank, USA [in emailese, “was Chicago,” 4th stanza: movies/beef on the hoof] 21. _Declines...._ [Venice on its best day a mere shadow version the so-called “eternal city” itself, world-center, empire of empires, the universal city of Augustus Caesar: Gibbon. Augustus is gone; the empire is gone: Peter, however, crucified in Rome, remains] _....On the rialto once._ [Shakespeare, world historian, moved from depeiction of Rome herself to Rome’s fragments, Italian city-states; England; far-flung, commercial Venice (mother of contemporary usury & banking, not to say of modernity), also all more and less wayward daughters of the Roman church. Here Venice is become hardly a Christian city but, rather, a commercial city, the city that will be depicted by Canaletto.] Antonio, the merchant of Venice, who, like a monastic, has no family of his own, but is devoted rather to his merchandising and friends than any religious vows, once clears the rialto of moneylenders in obvious imitation of Jesus cleansing the Jerusalem temple. Yet because of his way of life, he must also borrow from moneylenders, in even more obvious (if less noted) contradistinction to Christ, who did not borrow any money from moneylenders, and taught that love of money is the root of evil. Antonio (like his namesake Antony, more than a thousand years before) contains deep contradictions and indulgences. Unself-disciplined, he wishes to have things both ways: he serves two masters. He goes so far as to point out that the devil can cite scripture and that “a goodly outside falsehood hath.” This truth must be considered in light of the fact that he also uses scripture and has a goodly outside. His rival Shylock is a Jew. That is, he is no sort of participant or communicant of the Christian religion. But he does not keep the Mosaic law, either. What he is, gradually, is merely more and more envious and vengeful. The tension between a “Christian” borrower who, although he says many true and good things, hates and despises moneylenders and a “Jew” who, although he says many true and good things, maintains out of nothing more than spite a personal distinction (“I hate him for he is a Christian” _Merchant_ I.iii) is posed by Shakespeare quite simply in Portia’s famous question: “Which is the merchant [=”Christian”] here? and which the Jew?” (IV.i). (She does not even ask about a Christian, that is, explicitly raise the issue of a true or genuine Christian: the commercial law is genuinely indifferent to the answer: Venice is “liberal” [cf. Spinoza on Venice, &c].) There is perhaps an important point for a genuine Christian politics here [but cf. 2 Tim 12], but I set it aside to note for immediate purposes that the Shakespearean answer to the question of which is which is that _both_ are members of the same tribe: merely merchants, who are ruled, like the republic of Venice herself, ultimately and only by the commercial law, and neither is a Christian or a Jew in truth, whatever their “goodly outsides” and their protestings: they each “protest too much.” Opposites in so many ways, they are essentially the same--brothers--”...if you prick us, do we not bleed,” &c&c, the whole speech (which, in a assimilationist mood, could as well have begun, “I am an Icelander”). In other words, Shakespeare’s Antonio is finally a Christian (like his Marc Antony was finally a Roman of “virtu” and nobility) and his Shylock a Jew only in name, i.e, not at all. THE issue of _The Merchant of Venice_ (=superficially the nominal Christian but ultimately also the nominal Jew, Hatfields and McCoys) finally is NOT one of the New and Old Law, or even one of the sprit and the letter of the same law: it is simply the failure to keep even the letter of the first commandement to “Keep the Law.” If it is too much to say that religious wars only arise out of the irreligion of the warriors, it is clear that Shakespeare’s Venice is “tolerant,” not to say “Unitarian”: business is the business of the commercial republic. These hypocrite Christians and Jews are merely so many “Venetians,” like the population there of merchant Turks, and whoever else in the teeming city (Babylon). 22. _The rats are underneath the piles_ [To pursue Shakespeare’s intent, we would say more; for Eliot, it is enough to see that (as with Shakespeare) all such are rats under whatever skin (“goodly outside”), in just the sense in which he had referred to “goats and monkeys” in the Epigraph: mortal beasts, reproduced like Niobe’s children, though she brags they are more than gods. See 2 Peter 3:4ff Also, _NB_: “Piles”=architectural foundations of wood [=trees]--the student of trees (Burbankish poet-botonist) must successfully distinguish between these Venetian trees (and “Hollywood”) and the _axletree_ of St. Mark’s (the Cross) as between a house that built on shifting sand and a house that is built upon a _rock_ (esp. Jesus at Matthew 7:24, and context [“trees and their fruits”]; and, here, further: “skin,” “hair”: from Lat. “pilus,” “pellis”: “pile”: _such hair too_, epigraph. And not overlooking the pun with “Pilate,” who judged, and tried to wash his hands of it.] A couple of further points: we have noticed the “protrusive eye,” but Eliot wants us to appreciate how protrusive it continues to be for these stanzas. Apart from what has already been said, we again must note the famous speech of Shylock, which begins “I am a Jew: Hath not a Jew eyes?....&c” This speech is resonant with the “protrusive eye,” always remembering that the “protrusive eye” is, rather, the Light of Him who made eyes and bodies and innermost selves (Psalms), and is meant by Shakespeare to be understood, as “Merchant” progresses and Shylock becomes increasingly revengeful and evil-eyed, in light of the characteristic dictum of the Old Law, “an eye for an eye.” Apart from the commercial code that pertains to him, this is Shylock’s whole law (in fact, the only part of the Law which he keeps and would die keeping), and ultimately it is _also_ Antonio’s, the borrower who will not forgive the lender who will not forgive his debt (such merchants are as much cheats as the usurers: their “sacred nation” and the suffering “badge of all our tribe” is _one and the same_ and also with all the children of Niobe [epigraph]), and the “law” of Icelandic Burnt Nyal, and whoever else of the same ilk. These considerations, the justice of an eye for an eye and the mere mortality of the merchants and bankers (‘rats”)--and remembering also and even above all here that _Eliot_ is a banker--bring us to the striking closing lines of the stanza, first: 23. _The Jew is underneath the lot._ [Suddenly in in the midst of the tonb/inferno: Jesus Christ, solid rock: royal blood of Judah: winged lion, judge of the quick and the dead: surely as much hated in truth by the merely nominal Christians as by the merely nominal Jews, was he not betrayed by his own disciple for money? vengence is His, who forgave even those who crucified him at Calvary, Jew and Roman and merchant alike. Cf. Ps.94:1-2, 15, and context.] 24. _Money in furs._ [the buying and selling of skins: people (usury) and of “externals,” appearances, all that cannot be taken with you when Charon arrives for you, and above all hypocrisy and betrayal, “names,” “masks”: money in every sort of hypocrisy/prostitution: the worldly world of the market; Inferno, Aristophanes _Ploutos_; moneychangers in the temple; Hell on earth in Canaletto’s ersatz heaven--as noted: the _goats and monkeys, with such hair too_ [epigraph]. Also, I believe someone has pointed out that there was a store sign in London saying “Bleistein’s Furs”: faded Venice and fading London, what I, last of many, have called the sepulchral city, are one, and the fate of the merchants and moneylenders is the same in each. (Southam has the idiotic gloss: “l.24 _Money in furs:_ meaning that there is a fortune to be made in the fur trade, which is a Jewish trade...” If he were not sometimes passingly useful (which he surely is), one would suppose his degrees should all be revoked.)] Recalling the pun on “Pilate” (l.22) before identifyiing the innocent one treated as the lowest and least of all the merchants and soldiers and priests and judges and officials (l.23), we are reminded now of the money [=”argent,” “silver,” and “argentaria,” “moneylender”] to be had skinflinting and in betraying your Master or selling out your brother (like Judah and his brothers sold their brother “Joseph” (Hebrew root also of “Joshua,” “Jesus”) viz., the disciple Judas, whose name (=”Judean,” “Jew”) was also the name of one of Jesus’ brothers (cf. NT epistle of Jude, especially vv. 1-2, 18-20, and 25: “...Jesus Christ before all ages, now and forevermore”). What is at the bottom of this stanza, in other words, is the betrayal and passion of Christ, and hence the question of the self-discipline and coming judgement of every one of us (Jude 6: “...judgement on the great day...,” and context.) _...The boatman smiles. [Suddenly, in the midst of this Hell and lawless law, upon the mention of Christ the judge, the boatman/Charon arrives: someone’s last day: the time has come... 2 Peter 3:10 and context: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief,” suddenly, and outside all commercial law/contracts and in keeping only with the Covenant of God. This sudden (superficially, not profoundly unprepared) appearance is like the sudden, “out of the blue” (sky or water or both?) appearance of Bleistein in the 4th stanza. Bleistein the mortal man selling furs in London may be/has been forgiven any shortcoming and reborn: he is the figure of “the boatman,” i.e., “the Way” (4th stanza), the true “pilot.” Noting that we have construed St. Mark’s as the royal priestess Princess Volupine’s glorious barge, we must suppose that the baptized Burbank, who is with her, Eliot the banker, Eliot the new Christian priest, is now also a boatman (1Peter 2:9-10, and context; 2 Peter 3: 11-13: “the day of God,” and context; Ps. 94:14). He arrives like St. Mark once arrived at a crucial moment in Venice. He is all smiles at his sudden appearance in Hell. There, we know from one who should know, a villain may smile on the outside to veil a black and vengeful heart (Antonio, _Merchant_ I.iii). Here it figures of St. Sebastian’s happy love overcoming tortuous death: he is mercy, not revenge; as Bleistein, he is now like the candle/shares Bleistein’s cigar. Cigars are a product of the Americas: America needs no instruction from Venice as an imperial commercial republic, it has erected great commercial foundations of its own. Seventh stanza (New Morning) 25. _Princess Volupine extends 26. a meagre, blue-nailed, phthisic hand 27. To climb the waterstair. Lights, lights, 28. She entertains Sir Ferdinand_ [Klein.] This is an excellent stanza in which to exhibit the levels of meaning that are common to all (literal, ethical, allegorical, anagogical). Not simply to repeat what I have said elsewhere, we may read this as Europe like a venereal old whore (ll. 25-26) fellating to little “fireworks”&c (l.27) a bunch of merely cross-bred Spanish-German mongrels (ll.28-29) who all pretend to be blue-blood better than they are with nouveau aristocratic airs (l.28: “Sir”/l.25 “Princess”)--i.e., Europe is so many rats? or goats and monkeys? Yet, this is not a “realistic” or “cynical” reading of the stanza’s ethical level, merely a partisan one: Burbank arm in arm with Marat and Robespierre. Eliot : “Aux Barricades!” Ridiculous. Cf. One of the essays with “To Criticise the Critic”: “I am for the monarchy in every country where there is a monarchy.” Rather, perhaps Burbank, reflecting on time’s ruins in the part of stanza 8 , has learned veneration of Throne and Altar, above all. Because, after all, German-Spanish breeds may be very aristocratic: Hapsburgs are German and Spanish, and they are the Holy Roman Empire, going back to Charlemagne. That is about as aristocratic as Europe or anyone else can get. They yoke together empire (themselves) and the church (the Princess), to whose extension of her unarmed hand they owe their thrones. The Princess of delight, in the place of the Countess in the epigraph, who is there a Canaletto/Marston divinity but here a Mantegna figure of one, is revealed as like an old chaste nun: she causes light in the darkness and awakens the spiritually dead. Her action or shining in so doing, in calling or witnessing or representing to the world [perhaps Dorothy Sayers? Or would Eliot not yet have known of her?] however slight, is positive, inviting the next Peter to walk out onto the water, like Peter on the sea of Galilee, like St. Mark’s/Venice on the ocean--like the church of Christ: “universal” and all the nations (=Sir Ferdinand), “Tradition,” but, also....] Eighth Stanza (Alpha & Omega) 29. _Klein._ [individual and personal to each man and woman as such; and also, if you must, to dot the eye: “Lutheran.” The last is here first. It is the end of time not literally but in principle: the historical cycles are known (2 Peter again, &c). The small commoner, Klein, is elevated, his royal blood recognized and acknowledged, who, like us, an all-but nothing, all-but nobody, now enjoys indescribable bliss forever while the movers and shakers, slinkers and crafty, are lost in richly earned oblivion. Where are all the great merchants and bankers of Venice, slinking Tribe of the Fox, envious hypocrites under the great flag and name of the Winged Lion (cf. stanza 2 with Aristophanes’ Dionysus in the costume of Hercules ready to harrow Hades: _Frogs_ [here, per stanza 6 (and _Merchant_)=”rats”]? The Tribe of the Fox is outfoxed for good by the royal Volupina (Southam: “A constructed name [sc. by Eliot], with suggestions of ... foxy): the fox gobbles up all the little rats. And of the truly proud: Where are Gaius Julius and Antony now and their successor? Where are Cleopatra’s children by Caesar--little Caesarion, heir- apparent of Rome and all the world--and by Marc Antony--the twins, Cleopatra Selene [=moon goddess], and Alexander Helios [=world conqueror & sun god/charioteer]? And where is Antony’s new wife: Octavian’s sister Octavia? [note: review stanzas 2-3 in this connection] Where, above all, is the universal “princeps” Augustus Caesar [stanzas 2-3]? In the face of commoner Klein, whither the whole proud Tribe of the Lion? _....Who clipped the lion’s wings 30. and flea’d his rump and pared his claws?_ [Not Burbank, not Eliot, not however many generations of scribblers: cf. the language at Rev.1:5] 31. _Thought Burbank_ [Eliot the Christian poet, contemporary child of “Volupine” & “Klein,” and, to “Cross the t “(!): “Individual talent”], _....meditating on 32. Time’s ruins,_ [Byron’s phrase from “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” [Bush], here Eliot’s own pilgrimage: his “Baedecker”: Mark and the great Christians aesthetics: Shakespeare (sonnet 19--of love, the blood of the phoenix, youth/verse, and the rest), ] _....and the seven laws._ [Dante, maestro, and his #7s & 14s, and Biblical Law, including the seven deadly sins, and culminating in what Jesus taught as the “whole Law.”] This--”Burbank”--is Eliot’s presentation of the ultimate and only meaning or significance of “history” beyond its obvious sound and fury and boom and bust. With this we have almost completed the reading of “Burbank”--but only “almost.” There still remains one “small” matter: “Klein.” _Sir Ferdinand/Klein_ (stanzas 7-8: or, in the Latin, Septem-Octo) still has his mask on. Not his figural persona: that much, which is the most important--though not quite the whole--we have recognized. But we have yet to recognize his temporal persona, his “tail,” his “hic et nunc.” Our oversight, perhaps forgiveable enough, is in our having said, at the beginning of our comments on the eighth (Lat.: “octavus”) quatrain, that, beginning with _Klein_, “it is the end of time not literally but in principle.” This is not, strictly speaking, true. It is not the whole truth, that is, the whole historical truth. “Klein” also stands for or introduces the _literal_ end of time, that is, the 1919, the “present”: the publication date of “Burbank.” Eliot paints like Canaletto with the perspective of Mantegna. “Burbank” spans the whole past from before creation (cf. 1 Peter 1:20, 2 Peter 3:4ff) up to the literal present of 1919, a year after the Armistice of the Great War in November (=Lat. ninth), 1918. The “last” thing now, i.e., “now,” is literally, actually, and not only figuratively, the “first” thing. We had asked, where are the great Caesars Julius and Augustus “now,” in the light of Klein in (stanzas) septem and octo, i.e.: July-August, September- October? This and related wonders are part of the recognition of Klein that we have acknowledged as now timeless. “Klein,” a German, understands this because, as heir of the Holy Roman Empire, etc., he obviously understands Latin. We have learned from “Bleistein” that we must understand some Latin in order to understand “Burbank.” The same is true the other way ‘round. We likewise must understand a little German. Returning to the poem’s title, we note that there are two American names or products there, “Burbank” and “cigar,” and two German names or products there, “Bleistein” and “Baedecker.” We have provided an account of how the new Burbank obtained a cigar, we must now ask why the new Bleistein might need to obtain a “Baedecker.” To begin to see why this might be so, we must understand a little German in considering the eighth (=”octavus”) and final stanza--not Klein’s name, but Caesar’s [i.e., “Octavian’s”] name. That is, we must ask not where is “Caesar” now, but where is the “Kaisar” now (“Caesar”=”Kaisar”)--and of course, the Hapsburgs, speaking of the Vienna branch of the family. In 1919, these heirs of Caesar are no more. Nor the branch of the family lying much further east (“Third Rome”): where are the Czars (“Czar”/”Tsar”=”Caesar”) in 1919? Ferdinand the Catholic, King (=Lat. Rey/Rex=”Kaisar”) of Spain and all New Spain, ruled an empire that grew and faded and finally fell in the Spanish-American War at the turn of the century; the Ottomans likewise collapsed in the Great War, but I do not know offhand if Lawrence’s _Seven Pillars of Wisdom_ was yet available for “Burbank” to include among his occasions for meditation. “Burbank with a Baedecker: Bleistein with a Cigar” is thus freed at last by “Sir Ferdinand Klein” from its initial, controlling image: the West. All the heirs of Caesar and Cleopatra and Antony, the Tribe of the Lion, bow to the hiers of Peter not merely all ‘round the Mediterranean basin (= “Middle of Earth”), but from Luzon and Kamchatka on the Pacific in the east to Burbank on the Pacific on the west (=The Earth). “Christendom” is not “the West,” even if what was called “civilization” belonged to the Western daughters of the original Roman empire. Burbank as Bleistein/Peter needs a Baedecker because Jesus’ command to Peter and the disciples is now to go and teach all nations, not merely all Western nations (Matt 28:16-20, Acts 10:34-48). As for Bleistein, he is equally at home among all the nations. (1 Timothy 2: 4-6; cf. especially Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:22) And “Burbank with a Baedecker: Bleistein with a cigar” is itself a young banker’s minting of a new Roman (=universal) coin upon which the image of God has replaced that of Caesar on both sides. And, for us, this may at least begin to pass for knowing where we started for the first time.-- This doubtless needs much polishing, and I have surely forgotten much I will wish to add to it, but perhaps it is good enough now for email, and to begin to open up the exploration of this great work along some promising new paths. I believe there is no more masterful or Eliotic a poem in his whole, wonderful canon. Please excuse the typos. And thanks to Arwin for continually coming up with stuff! Guy Story Brown, Dallas & LA firstname.lastname@example.org Gloss: "Burbank with a Baedeker" To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: Gloss: "Burbank with a Baedeker" From: STORYBROWN@aol.com Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 14:17:09 EDT Dear list: Having scanned pretty carefully through the parts of the poem as they are set down, we are now in a position to begin to attempt a more general gloss of the whole. Here I will attempt the first part of the title and the last 4 quatrains. “Chicago,” the first part of the trinity composing line 16, might be an apt working title. “Burbank with a Baedeker” A city (Burbank) is the first thing named in this work, and a city (Chicago) is the first thing named in its middle line (16). Upon reading through the whole poem, we now see that “Burbank with a Baedeker,” the first of the equivalent portions of the poem’s title “Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar,” like the city Chicago is named first in the line “Chicago Semite Viennese” (l.16), represents the “body” of the whole poem (per the “world’s body”), the “City of Man.” Burbank, as we have noted, is a city in the far west of the West, which the German’s call “the evening land,” where the sun goes down, land of the dead, the (western, sundown) side of the Nile on which the Egyptians design their necropoleis. This manner of imagery, imagery conceived in this gloomy manner in 1918-1919, is Spenglerian, and was sensationalized among the learned and aesthetic in the two volumes of Spengler’s _Decline of the West_ , the first of which appeared in German in 1918. (Aside for Arwin: it was at this time, doubtless, in response to Spengler, that Eliot began developing the “Burbank” verses to complete what you have observed were the already independently begun “Bleistein” verses.) >From Spengler we learn, among other things, that there have been many “cultures” over the centuries and millenia, each with their distinctive architectural and art forms and related expressions, and so forth, and that they are all born and obligatorily grow, blossom, and die, much like fated plants and trees. They are organic. Spengler studies cultural organisms as though they were plants. Judaism, for example, he studies under the classification of “Arabian culture” as a variety “prophetic Arabian religion.” The West is, naturally, another among these organisms, and it has now entered its necessary and final decline. The figure of Burbank, whose name is also that of a contemporary student of plants, and whom we have already seen as the contemporary student of Venetion wood, is the student, also, of Spengler, zoologist of cultural decline. As such, he is a scientist, he has no sentiment for one tree over another. However, “Burbank” is himself a “city-man,” a rather small one of course (”Klein”), and cultureless. As such, he is interested above all in learning whether there is any sort of vine or tree, that is, any sort of city or culture, that does not decline. His is a personal interest, not merely abstract. And the knowledge he seeks is a kind, the highest kind, of self- knowledge. This is the purpose of his pilgrimage. For our part, anticipating a decline, looking from the first part of the title to the very last stanza, the end, the “rump,” we see that Burbank is there thinking of the vanished Caesars, and meditating on “time’s ruins.” If the stanza were not so well annotated, one could suppose that it might resemble something out of Volney’s _Ruins_, or something more evocative, perhaps recalling some sort of echoes above Tintern Abbey. What it _does_ resemble above all, and what Burbank’s meditation is meant to connote is the justly celebrated meditation at the close of Gibbon’s _Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_, with the monks &c scurrying about the Forum and palacial ruins. (Compare the historian’s description of his first visit to “the _eternal city_”, “Memoirs of My Life,” chap.6). Gibbon was among the few things Eliot said in 1919 that he read “over and over”: “Letters,” p.318) Gibbon is not interested in all the world’s many so-called “cultures” and “civilizations.” He is interested in Rome, man’s greatest political achievement (complete unity of all of the mediterranean basin, western Europe, &c), and particularly in the decline and fall of this achievement as that of a fully self-conscious “world-city” with the rule of law and all the social and political institutions and ambitions that are necessary to begin even to generate such a conception, to say nothing of the leading men. In the very heart of The European Enlightenment, what has been called the greatest work of the Enlightenment, so far from celebrating Progress and empire (or Britain’s own commercial development and expansion), in fact inexorably traces the decline and fall of what many have regarded as the greatest of all human achievements. If Rome could fall, and did fall, then everything man makes will sooner or later fall, architectural forms, obligatory organic stages, and whatever else. “Declines” [plural]: the Spengler-Gibbon stanzas are those from the beginning of the sixth and continuing through the “rump” (l. 30), the end of the eighth (octavus: “Octavian,” which is also where we began in the second) with the fall of the last Caesars: “Sir Ferdinand Klein,” and Burbank’s Gibbonian meditation. However, these stanzas are recounted--the fall itself is begun--in accord, rather, with the dramatization of Shakespeare. There is no fate, no obligatory cultural phases, and the only organisms are those with free will or expressions of providence, or both, on the world’s stage, as viewed by the original eye, which was the culmination of the Augustinian stanzas of the poem’s first part, and Bleistein. This “fall,” of the “decline and fall,” parallels the “we fell” at the beginning of the Augustinian stanzas. In Shakespeare’s Augustinian drama [=”Shakespearean history”] a merchant of lukewarm charity publicly (in the manner of a Pharisee) spits on a moneylender who is spiteful and impure before the Law, and to whom the spitter is indebted (_Merchant_ I.iii): “Signior Antonio...You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,/ And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine...). Both lead us to the judgment not merely before the Venetian law but above all to the judgement of the “lustreless protrusive eye” (l.17), the “ruler of God’s creation” (Rev: 3:14): “Because you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Rev.3:16). This judgement continues: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing,’ but you do not recognize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white [unstained, unmarked] clothes so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to your eyes, so _you_ can see” (Rev.3:17-18). The meditation on Rome’s naked carcass, the Gibbonian ruins and the Spenglerian ruins, including looming Spenglerian ruins to come, leads to the discovery that the only meaning of history is a personal meaning: “Here I am: I stand at the door and knock” (Rev: 3:20, and context). Spenglerian apocalyticism becomes Augustinian history without, however, losing the balanced temper and style of Gibbon. Classic. It attains the perspective of Mantegna. It is in first recognizing the Augustinian “city-man” of “Burbank” and his Spenglerian-Gibbonian “Baedeker” as we have discussed them that enables us to begin to explore what otherwise seems visible only as a “dark comedy,” though the gloom seems slearer than the comedy, and a squabble of conflicting passions and interests, not to say of critics. Thus far, the poem is an affective mirror of the city of man as it is familiar to us: a contemporary “perspective of Canaletto.” Considering the poem in the perspective of Mantegna, every line is a lamp into the darkness, and the place that is gradually discovered or revealed there is the city of God. It is meant to be an education: a cultivation of true culture, culture that does not decline and fall. I will try a similar gloss of “Bleistein with a Cigar” and the Markan- Augustinian stanzas as I find the time. Then I may try a conclusion on “Sir Ferdinand Klein” and Eliot. After that I will look at any responses that the list might have. Please excuse typos. Guy Story Brown, Dallas & LA firstname.lastname@example.org Gloss: "Bleistein with a Cigar" To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: Gloss: "Bleistein with a Cigar" From: STORYBROWN@aol.com Date: Sat, 30 May 1998 19:27:15 EDT Now, let us try to bring all these considerations into a tentative resolve. I appreciate your patience. Please excuse the typos. “Bleistein with a Cigar” I. Sir Ferdinand Klein We have seen from our scan of the Spengler-Gibbon quatrains of “Burbank” that the West as it has been known and as it has known itself from its inception as the first daughter of Rome is now past. Now, right now, our now, it is gone. In its place is what? A “wasteland?” John C. Calhoun, the American thinker with greatest prevision of all such questions, said in 1850: The interval between the decay of the old and the formation and establishment of the new constitutes a period of transition, which much always necessarily be one of uncertainty, confusion, error, and wild and fierce fanaticism. [Much of this will exhibit the “delusive hope of making the government more democratic,” and an expression of the common “folk” or common working people.] The governments of the more advanced and civilized [=possessed of high arts & sciences] portions of the world [=the West and its imperial extensions] are now in the midst of this perod... (_Disquisition on Governement_, paras. 138-139) And they still are. His phrase “period of transition” (particularly as signalled by the battle of Waterloo and related subjects) was first used in this same connection by Hegel about 20 years before Calhoun (_Philosophy of Right_ , paras 7ff) and again with the same identification and meaning by A.N. Whitehead about 75 years after Calhoun (_Science and the Modern World_, the closing paragraphs on “Requisites for Social Progress”). Envisioning of coming “convulsions and revolutions, to be followed by calamities in the beginning, however beneficial they may prove to be in the end”--a sort of Spengler-Gibbon looking forward--Calhoun attempted to supply a posthumous resolution, or the necessary frame of a resolution, for this fierce period: a true “science” of government. However problematic it may be, his is the by far most self-conscious and mature offering we have on the subject from the political perspective of the city or government as a whole. “Burbank” takes no such tack. As we have sufficiently seen, Eliot’s perspective in the Spengler-Gibbon quatrains, rather, is “personal.” 6th Stanza In the first place, here, for us, this means noticing that Spengler and Gibbon, different as they are as men and as thinkers, are one in showing that Jews, Arabs, Turks, Vandals, Huns, Mongel hordes and the rest are not responsible for the decline of the West or any “period of transition” in the passing of the West. In words of one syllable, or thereabouts: Jews as Jews, Jews as distinct from others, did not make the West or build it up and they did not tear it down or undermine it or betray it. They are not guilty, or, in any case, no more guilty than anyone else, and less than some. So, the question, in due course, necessarily arises: what are “the Jew[s]” doing here in these quatrains? How did the “The Jew” get into the woodpile? Why should they be accorded such an honor? Eliot brings into the center of the Spengler-Gibbon quatrains--that is, the decline-and-fall, “city of man” quatrains--what in Spengler and Gibbon themselves is more or less ephemeral. In so doing, he follows Shakespeare, who had done the same. He makes visible on centerstage what is otherwise, “historically,” marginal and all but unvisible (and what is otherwise off stage: “ob-scene”). Eliot’s “protrusive Eye” is all-seeing: it sees the all but invisible. And who is less directly central to the main themes of Western history than Jews, or less visible? We may answer this question by noting that we might about this time expect a post from Pat to the effect that the phrase “Jew in the woodpile” is not very common--like, say, “Chicago Jews,” etc. [:-)]. But it is familiar. It rings a bell. That is the phrase we are looking for. It is obscene and left unsaid by Eliot, not primarily because it is “obscene” but primarily because he is leading the reader increasingly not merely toward the “marginal” and the social-sociologically “invisible man” toward the one who is most “invisible”--and often, typically, when His Name is most loudly spoken (Antonio; the Pharisee of Mat. 5:20, 23:13, &c). Eliot is seeking the invisible because he is seeking substance, not merely form: here is the image of God. The accurate phrase is “nigger in the woodpile.” Viz., Othello. Of course! we could not stay so long in Venice with the student of Venetian wood Burbank and altogether miss Shakespeare’s great Moor! Brave. Honest. Innocent. Of course, to say nothing of other things, not simply innocent, certainly. Does not Othello, the Moor whose name is like the Turk “Ottoman” (=”son/descendent of Othman,” “Osman”) fight against his brother ? (_Othello, Moor of Venice_ i.iii: “against the general enemy Ottoman”; cf. esp. III.iii: “my name...” &c) He is at bottom little more innocent than the rats/merchants (22). There is still more woodpile. We must go to the bottom beneath this bottom (23). We are seeking innocence as we seek substance, surely the deepest and most invisible thing. What is important here is that we note--not merely in passing--that all colors of skin are here included in this woodpile, and none more than another, as in Joseph’s coat and, in other words, in the sacrifice of Christ. After all--although it perhaps does not at first seem immediately or specifically relevant for “Burbank”--it will be important for _Othello_ and already in at least a general way for “Burbank” if we recall that Philip the Evangelist is no sooner through preaching among the Samaritans than he teaches the Ethiopian about the prophecy of Isaiah, Christ, and baptism (Acts 8). The gospel is not “Western”: according to the historian of the Gospel, the European (Macedonian) Luke, here, it reached Africa before it reached Europe. This leads us to consider the fact that this version of the off-scene phrase about someone in the woodpile is not European in origin but American Southern. “Nigger” (=”nigguh,” is yeoman Southern English for the Latin “niger”--Span/Port: “negre/negro”: “black”--like “buttah” for “butter.” “horruh” for “horror” &c (Faulkner&c); planter class Southern was perhaps more usually “nigra/negra.” It is interesting that Eliot (not Shakespeare) juxtaposes this phrase and the blackamoor and the line “Money in furs” (l.24) and implicates Mohammedans in African slave trade. As Spengler notes (q.v. his general treatment of the themes: “money-thought,” “slavery”) in antiquity private enterprises had hunted slaves along the Mediterranean coast. When the Spanish and Portuguese began to explore sub-Saharan Africa, they discovered that though the African tribes did not have feudal institutions of peonage and serfdom, they did trade in slaves. Slave markets for trade with Arabs were centuries old, and lesser tribes also held slaves (cf. Chinua Achebe, _Things Fall Apart_, the slave child of Okonkwo). “Money in furs.” European traders gradually expanded this trade to include the whole of the “New World” discovered by agents sponsored by Ferdinand, above all in the Caribbean and South America (esp. Brasil) in numbers rivalling or equalling in 300 or so years the total sold over the centuries to the Arabs. The phrase refers to lineage or pedigree. It indicates an impure or mixed lineage or pedigree. It may be used in opprobation, but it need not be. There are finer and less fine people, certainly, but there are none so fine, or almost none, that one could not find a niggah in the woodpile somewhere if we looked hard enough. It may undermine the ruler’s claim to rule if that rule is based on bloodline (or, as treated in Spengler, “race”). It may refer to the claim of the Southern planter and his regime (the Old South, although there are other questions that must be considered), it may refer to the claim of Ezra and Nehamiah and their regime (Ezra 2; 4:1-5: the “Jews” [=tribe of Judah], although there are other questions that must also be considered). It is the way of the world. We are all equal in this regard, and all share the same blood, so far as blood is concerned. We kinds of people are distinct, but not _so_ distinct. The descendent of an African slave may also be the descendent of a slaveowner, and not only an African slaveowner in Africa but a European slaveowner in America. As for the claim of Ezra and Nehemiah, do not all know the stories of Tamar and Rahab and Ruth and Bathsheba, to say nothing of others? And these are in the royal line of Judah itself, not merely “any Judeans.” All are ultimately what Shylock says Antonio says about a “mongrel cur.” And all the versions of the saying about anyone in “the woodpile” refer originally to the public bush (l.22: “piles”=”hairs”), and the unstated (off-scene) image flows from that of the “smoky candle” in the prior stanza (and the “Cigar” in the title) and toward the “meagre, blue-nailed, phthistic hand” (l.26) and the “waterstair” of the following stanza (l.27). All mortal blood and birth comes about in the manner connoted by the phrase. But it is of course not pure or innocent blood and it does not issue in the new man. Eliot leads us to deepen the image toward and in light of the blood of Christ and a conception that is immaculate. 7th Stanza I will not repeat what I have said elsewhere about the “partisan” reading of the seventh stanza. It follows the “obcene” reading of the sixth as I have just indicated it (cf. the noted allustion to _Othello_, l.27). Rather, I want now to consider the figure of Sir Ferdinand Klein as the ultimate issue of the union of Princess Volupine and Burbank in the first stanza, the figure in whom the first is made last and the last is made first, and so forth. This figure, Sir Ferdinand Klein, is also in some sense the reader and, and least by intention or wish Eliot’s whole audience. Ferdinand/Fernando is of course the name of several Spanish kings who, with the Portuguese who divided some of the discovered lands with them, reigned over an empire that grew to span the globe and deal in such riches that the odd treasure galleons that they may have lost by the way here and there today still generate dreams of untold wealth. In so doing, they pursued an absent- minded sort of policy that Montesquieu described, perhaps in the _Spirit of the Laws_ or the _Notebooks_, as apparently intended merely to depopulate theSouth Americas of all natives and repopulate the continent again with Africans. The name Ferdinand here follows the theme of the “mongrel cur”-”woodpile” of the 6th quatrain: it connotes all these mixed bloods: “American,” European, African, without rank or distinction. 8th Stanza Yet there is still this distinction: the “family” name “Klein” itself This name in fact enjoys several distinctions, not the least of which is that , with the name “Burbank,” it is the only personal name to begin a whole quatrain of the epic. It is brought into this position in order to emphasize in the strongest manner both its firstness and its “rank,” vis a vis other names. However, it is not the name of a city, like Burbank, which begins the first stanza, but it connotes here rather the name of a people, namely, the New people of whom we have spoken in previous posts, and who are the fitting celebrants of the New World discovered and ordained in accordance with the gospels, if not by the Reyes de Leon y Castille y Navarre (sp?)--but also the people of the Law: the Hebrews as Hebrews: these are “first” (l.29). We have already noted that there is no especially Jewish name in the poem, still less a necessarily Jewish one. We must now complete that thought by noting that some are possibly Jewish, if not certainly so, and that, since by everything we have seen and learned, the name of “Bleistein” certainly denotes the figure of a certain Jew, “Peter,” “rock,” as the figure of Christ crucified, “The Jew,” then the name of Sir Ferdinand Klein, is certainly also in a sense “Jewish.” This ambiguity is intentional: it denotes both the Pauline theme of adoption and the new sons of Abraham that we find in Paul’s letter to the Romans (2:17ff, 4-5, 8, 9, 10-11), are, more generally, the NT theme of the “true vine,” and, also, the central OT themes of the priority of the Law and People of the Covenant, and Paul’s teaching that the gospel of Christ is for these, “the Jews” [=remnant, royal line of Judah] “first” (Roman’s 1:16). Specifically, the unstated allusion is to Matthew 15:16ff, where Jesus speaks to a needy Syro-Phoenician woman (viz., a gentile) of the gospel as food for the “children” of Israel “first,” saying that what is then leftover is for the “dogs” (gentiles). “Ferdinand” is a mongrel of all colors and bloods, but he is a royal mongrel by the gospel and blood of Christ. In acknowledging and conveying this NT teaching in according Klein this rank, Eliot in this manner turns around or turns over what had been a part of the spiritual thrust of the political policies of the Spanish kings, and above all King Ferdinand. When the Spanish finally drove out the last Moors from Iberia, after centuries of historic resistence and even spectacular tenacity in the face of apparent Moorish invinceability, they said that the Jews and anyone else (even Moors) could stay, provided they adopted the Catholic religion. Ferdinand thus re-enacts the command of Constantine, who decreed what was undecreeable, and established “the way” of Christ as an official state religion: a “thing of Caesar.” Many Jews elected to do so. However, suspicion arose that some of these were insincere, or shamming, and Ferdinand obtained permission to establish in his territories--including the “New World”--what was called the Inquisition. The Inquisition was intended to examine and determine the true faith of believers. It is sometimes said that those executed by the Inquisition exceeded the number of Christians executed by the Caesars. Whatever the numbers, the case is not the same: there is nothing public about the Inquisition. The proper analogy is of course rather with the Sanhedrin under the High Priest Caiaphus and the trial of Christ. To correct this retrograde inclination toward the city of man, Eliot restores the order: the name of Christ is in the first place a Jewish name, hier of Abraham. It is usual in most surveys to note that the grandest and most fearsome of all the Grand Inquisitors, pious and incorruptible by money or any similar temptations, is surely also something of a Caiaphus-like figure: Torquemada, was descended of Jewish converts. We want to note that Torquemada’s name was, like the first name of the author, “Thomas”: the name of a Jewish disciple. Here in the 8th stanza (=”octavus”) the name “Klein” is that _both_ of one of the New People entering the New World of the spirit and the new world following the fall of the West, on the one hand, and also that of one who, Eliot hopes in all peace, is staying in something like the Portico d'Ottavia, in Rome. Burbank contemplates the lions. We have pointed to the fact that they were once the hungry lions of Nero and Diocletian which, along with the friends of Peter, men, women and children, provided public entertainment--like concerts or Specials--for the multitudes in the great stadiums, and now mere relics. And the lions of the Spanish kings, once proud beyond any house upon the earth, now faded all but out of sight. And so, too, it might at first glance appear, the Winged Lion of St. Mark itself, the Lion of Judah, for the Lion’s name was ever on the lips of the Caesars after Constantine. But now that we have cleared the moneylenders from the temple, so to speak, or picked our way among the Gibbonean ruins, and sifted through the bur to the seed, we are a little better prepared than before to see the opening quatrains in “Burbank” in something like their true light, their “personal” light. This means specifically in the light of the Gospel of Mark, to which this reference to the winged lions recalls us. II. “...Semite Viennese” It is worth asking if only in passing, why Mark? Why not others? After all, Luke, the careful historian, the gentile writer who (like us) never saw Jesus himself would seem an obvious choice for one interested in the historical perspective. Meyer, great reader of Gibbon, judged Luke the equal of Josephus as an ancient historian. And, Matthew, the gospel apparently addressed especially to contemporary Jewish and related peoples, has been called “the most beautiful book ever written” which might well tempt those interrested in “aesthetics.” Or, for thinkers, John, the greatest work of Christian theology, or of any “human” or “personalist” (=non-”process”) theology. Yet a reader who has come this far will turn at once to the Gospel of Mark, rather than any other. We are in the great though now much faded or dying city--what James described as a tomb--that was traditinally founded in honor of Mark. The title, “Bleistein” means “lead stone,” or in Latin “Peter,” and the Gospel of Mark is traditionally the teaching of Peter as told to Mark. Besides, according to many, as Spengler wrote: “Mark is _the_ Gospel,” &c-- though Eliot is not here following Spengler but, if anyone, more popular writers (e.g., Morison, “Who Moved the Stone?”) who have said of Mark’s gospel that This rugged old document stands like a great rock far out to the sea, washed by the incoming tide before the coast- line of the distinctively Christian literature is reached. It casts its mighty shadow across all that littoral. It divides the very waters that flow towards it. Mark’s gospel is Burbank’s Baedeker. We have looked at the beginning of this gospel sufficiently to notice both the theme of baptism at it applies to the opening quatrain here and the crucial “layering” of explicit scriptural references with which it opens. Mark’s conflation is well known. If we wish to discern what it is that Mark is trying to say, we must observe the way he uses his material. He places these two Old Testament citations [viz., Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1] at the beginning so that although they refer directly only to 1:4-8, they still function as a preface to the whole book and introduce everything that follows as the fulfillment of all God’s dealings with Israel. (Schweizer, _The Good News According to Mark_) There is also an important allusion to the Exodus involved, and a somewhat less well known reference to a later passage in Isaiah. The opening conflation initiates the often-noted elusive character of “ambiguity,” “contradiction,” or “paradox” in the Markan Gospel (e.g., T.A. Burkhill, _The Mysterious Revelation: An Examination of the Philosophy of St. Mark’s Gospel_, and others). C.H. Dodd echoes many, saying in _About the Gospels_: “The total effect...is to suggest a. mysterious undercurrent beneath the ostensible....Mark is perfectly aware of this undercurrent of mystery in his story.” Pursuit of this and related currents belongs to the study of the Gospel of Mark. Here, we merely note that both the striking things in the opening of Mark characterize the begining of “Burbank,” as well. The specific mystery of “Burbank” is indicated by its going underwater in the first three quatrains. Something is hidden. Both the something, whatever it may be, and the hiddeness are part of the poem’s central and ultimate themes. To consider these it may be useful to quote another sentence out of R. Bush, _TSE: Character & Style_ (p.112): “To dramatize ‘what it feels like’ to hold Christian belief in an age of skepticism became Eliot’s object in [later] poems.” This statement, which admittedly needs some careful refining, is as true of “Burbank” as of any poem Eliot ever wrote, and it deserves the most careful reflection in beginning the study of “Burbank.” An age of skepticism is but the first part of the difficulty, and not very interesting in itself: all ages are skeptical to some extent (consider generally Mary R. Thompson, S.S.M.N., _The Role of Disbelief in Mark: A New Approach to the Second Gospel_.) Equally problematic, secondly, which is so much the theme of Kierkegaard (who wants neither a religion that is merely literature nor literature that is a kind of religion), is the fact that nominal Christianity is become the banal and commonplace, routinizing its freshness, falsifying itself. Thirdly, and above all, all of this writing takes place in the real world of what has been called the “hidden God,” _deus absconditus_, the God of whom we are aware, but who often brings Himself to our awareness (presence) by seeming to be absent, by, one might say, “a lustreless, protrusive” absence. This mysterious and ambivalant but necessary condition is the human condition of possession of genuine free-will. None of this is unique to Eliot of course. To say nothing of others, the speech of the Apostle Paul to the Athenians was about the “unknown god” (the hidden god) in the midst of the temples built to many “well known” gods. In this context, Eliot’s poetry does not “preach.” It conveys by discovery. In this way and only in this way it “shares” what Ransom, Tate &c would call its inner “form.” In this way it allows the reader to participate in it further and further by learning more and more, as well as by deepening feeling. This simultaneously allows one increasingly to discover and understand one’s own deepest feelings for what they are, and hence to know oneself, while growing. (Here, this is how Eliot treats the various forms of Spengler’s “spatialism,” “makrokosmos,” &c: how he answers Spengler’s new question: “For whom is there ‘history’?”) In so doing Eliot’s poetry teaches. As might have been expected, we discover the clue or connection that we seek in line 19, the last line of the Augustinian quatrains, which begins with the name of a city and ends with the term: “...Viennese.” “Viennese” is not a city, like Chicago or Burbank, but a particular way or thing associated with that city. There are fine Viennese seasonal wines, of course, and coffees and pastries and ices, but, surely, Viennese opera is what most leaps to mind, or the great Mozartian requiem masses for the repose of the souls of the dead, which might seem apt for such an occasion as this, or to be experienced as the fourth quatrain contemplated. The idea is not far-fetched as it may at first sound. Quite the contrary. After all, Bush speaks of Burbank’s “operatic musing,” which only ceases (according to him) when Eliot wishes ”to show us how repulsive the real world is,” &c. However, what is more likely intended is Listz’s oratario _Christus_--which among other things includes compositional or harmonic forms as a symbol of the Cross and a narrative theme of the suspension of time, the critical discussion of which has often been characterized by various heated questions of narrative perspectives such as are not usually found in the review of oratorios--and which, after years of fragmentary presentations, was premiered in its entirety for the first time, to a sensational reception, in Vienna in 1896, Ferdinand Lowe conducting. Liszt’s _Christus_, like his precurser in Handel, balances “Burbank” in rendering in theatrical choral celebration what Eliot in “Burbank” reserves in silent meditation before the Cross in the basilica. Be this as it may, what connects the beginning with the end of this line in which the middle east meets the middle west, is a kind of meat. It is thus via sausage that Vienna is connected to Chicago beef. Vienna sausage. Shaped like a short candle or a cigar, the sublimation of however many Freudian hopes and envies, in preparation for the action of the fifth, sixth, and seventh quatrains. And the middle term of the line: lamb. The sacrificial lamb: the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:8-26, and context; Rev. 5:12, &c). In reconsidering all these meats, we begin to glimpse what Eliot has done. Consulting any Venice Baedeker, we find that more than a thousand years before “Burbank,” alert, steel-nerved Venetian sailors discovered the remains of St. Mark in Alexandria, almost a thousand years after that city had faded from Hellenistic brilliance into Roman obscurity and late antiquity. In order to smuggle the Holy Relics through hostile Mohammedan guards and surly customs officers and back to Venice, they packed them carefully under piles of old pork, which these Mohammedans, believing according to their law that what goes into a man’s mouth is more important to cleanliness and purity than what comes out of it (cf. Jesus at Mk.7:6-14), wanted nothing to do with and would not touch. Eliot has smuggled the Book of Mark through the guards and out of the ruins of the old culture, the “West,” and into the new, where it will bear new fruit in the fullness of time (l.20). The Gospel of Mark is Bleistein’s “Cigar.” -- III. “Bleistein’s Way” Epigraph According to Spengler, where the prime symbol of the North is endless space and that of the Classical the body, “so we may take the word _way_ as most intelligibly expressing that of the Egyptians.” “Strangely, the one element in extension that they emphasize is that of direction in depth.” Egyptian art and architecture is a rhythmically ordered sequence of spaces: the sacred way leads from the gates through passages, halls and galleries through rooms growing narrower and narrower to the chamber of the dead. Cleopatra (=Cleopatra VII Ptolemy), prominent in the early quatrains, is Macedonian, not Egyptian, and she and the squabbles of the Ptolemies no more fulfill the life of Misr and K-M-T (sp?) than the Herods and the squabbles of the Saducees and Pharisees fulfill the Law of Moses. Hellenistic Egypt is a name for the decline of Pharonic Egypt. The fall of Alexandria to Octavian effectively seals off all that had been central to the Pharonic tradition. The gloom about “Burbank” is consistent with the part of Spengler’s _Decline of the West_ under the rubric of “Pergamum and Bayreuth: the end of art” (“Alexandria”), and its light is intended as the ultimate resolution of the problem described by Spengler under the rubric of “Caesarism” (“State and History”), including the Caesarism yet-to-come. “Burbank” is not history. It is meant to be an education: a cultivation of true culture, culture that does not decline and fall: solid rock. (1st quatrain) The way (Isaiah) out of the old tomb of Egypt and into the Wilderness was through the divided waters of the Red Sea (l.1: “...crossed a little bridge”: Exodus), a _type_ of baptism (Mark 1:1ff). Burbank joins and is joined by the church and is baptised. (2nd quatrain) The old man is put away (3rd quatrain) And buried. He and his old glory is nothing, (4th quatrain) but he is made one with the Lamb of God crucified and resurrected. “I am with you always, to the end of time” (Jesus at Matt.28-20). (5th quatrain) The Creator of time watches the forming of the unformed body (Ps 139...) (6th quatrain) Immaculate and colorless in the depths of the earth: Innocence and Grace in the blood of the Lamb. (7th quatrain) Then the church, Bride of Christ, extends her finger (ll.26-27) to him as Michelangelo’s figure of God extends his finger to Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome: they claim the living water (Jn. &:38) and the living stone (1 Peter 2:4ff) and heal each other and give life (per Mark 3:1-6: the withered and extended hand) to the new babe. (8th quatrain) Ecce Homo: (=SFKlein) not the “ubermensch” (sp?) who would transvalue all values (Nietzsche, cf. Spengler’s new Caesar) but the New Man (Mk.14:24) who transcends all cities and cultures. “Behold: I make all things new” (Rev.21:5). Parting Thoughts on "Burbank" To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Parting Thoughts on "Burbank" From: STORYBROWN@aol.com Date: Sun, 31 May 1998 21:42:16 EDT Here are some parting thoughts or notes on “Burbank” as it now stands. As such, they depend on the previous posts for their full sense. (Please excuse typos.) 1st quatrain Burbank is anyone who steps across the threshold of a church or sacred place who thinks he knows something of what he is doing or wants to learn. He need have no prior cultivation or “culture.” However, he needs a) an open mind and a, like the botonist, a tireless willingness to investigate carefully and painstakingly: say, pointalist: bright distinction by brightening distinction, rather than quick gloomy strokes, and b) and, perhaps more difficult, an open heart, as much as possible: Luther Burbank was expert in the grafting and cross-breeding of Plants (John 15:1-7; esp.Romans 11:23, and related passages). 4th quatrain We have seen that the presentation of lines16-18) is of Christ, the Man of Sorrows. Because the name “Bleistein” in line 16 may be a Jewish name and the term “Semite” in line 19 may refer to the Jewish people, the description of the Man of Sorrows may be taken to be one of Jews, particularly Jewish immigrants around the turn of the century through the end of the revolutions in Russia and the Great War. But, to say the least, Jews were hardly the only or even the main immigrants or displaced persons or refugees in those years. Much of Europe, and not only Europe, but also Mexico and the old Ottoman empire (and Ching China), was overrun with every kind of dispossession and displacement. If the name “Bleistein” and the term “Semite” are changed in these lines, or even understood as referring not _merely_ to Jewish people, the Man of Sorrows is revealed for what he is as the Grace of God for all nations (e.g., Titus 2:11). The Man of Sorrows honors all the displaced and dispossessed. Eliot honors the Jewish people here, as he does in another context in the sixth quatrain, for the same reason here as there: the gospel of Christ is to them first, and he here presents the way to Christ, _the_ Semite, as necessarily leading through the Jews. The story of the rescue of the relics of St. Mark in a meatpacking of pork is an allusion to the Biblical injunction about casting pearls before swine (Matt: 7:6). It is very dangerous, but there is often some margin of safety in the very ignorance and swinishness of the swine. In Eliot’s case, here, one simultaneously recognizes the figure of the crucified Christ smuggled in the midst of immigrant “Semites” and, in that figure, the fact that what is called “anti-semitism” is itself a version or form of the antichrist. Jesus Christ is semitic and the hope of his inheritence belongs (in first century language rather than the Torah or Prophets) “to the Jew first...” Eliot means this both as the truth in itself and in allusion to the view that nothing good can come “out of Galillee” (John 7:52). It is worth noticing that T.S. Eliot held forth this view in “Burbank,” a poem occasioned in 1919-19920 in reaction, among other things, to the awaited overman of Nietzsche, the newly-discovered irrational (and hence irresponsible) contemporary man of Freud, and the awaited new “Caesar” of Spengler, especially in view of such familiar blurbs on the jackets of _Decline_ as: “the trembling of Spengler’s themes signaled the coming of the Nazi earthquake,”&c. This context is, of course, “hindsight,” which is an especially clear vision, (cf. “times ruins”). Eliot’s original vision is as we have already presented it. Clarity of vision is introduced thematically into “Burbank” in the 5th quatrain, with the “protrusive eye,” but it reaches back to the last line of the 4th quatrain: line 19, the ambiguous middle term: “Semite.” “Semite” was a still a newish word in the wider world of the turn of the last century, one that emerged in the new and growing post-Hegelian intellectual climate of progress and secular class internationalism (like “International socialism” or Communism), on the one hand, and secular race nationalisms (like National Socialism and Zionism), on the other, in terms of the “Folk,” whether as a certain class or race, “history,” “fate,” “destiny,” “blood and soil,” “lebensraum” (sp), “living room,” “homeleand,” “struggle,” &c.&c. Spengler in particular pedantically dismissed the term “semite” as an ignorant catchword when used to identify the Arabian or Levantine races, including any Jews (and also the term “Aryan” as identifying a Germanic “Volk”), as these were, of course, merely philological terms properly relating to language groupings &c. Eliot here (as in many cases in his verses) depends on the ambiguity of popular usage. But he also alludes specifically and primarily to the philological connotations of the term “semite.” That is his only true interest. The middle term of line 19 means a kind of language or “word” (viz., the Gospel of Mark) and thus assimilates to itself (viz., to the Gospel of Mark) the cigar-Freudian penis wish & envy sublimation as he forms the immaculate conception of the New Man that is depicted “behind” these quatrains. The word bears fruit. 5th quatrain We must look at the first line of the 5th quatrain in connection with what has just been said, and particularly, now, the term “lustreless.” There are two possible and not incompatible meanings for this term in the line. We have spoken adequately of the “protrusive eye” as the eye of the Creator, the original light of the world. However, the original light of the world is only metaphorically a kind of flame or sun. Rather it is a command, a word. As such it is lustreless. “In the beginning...God said “Let there be light ,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good” (Genesis 1:1-4; cf. 14ff). This word is the word spoken of in the celebrated beginning of the Gospel of John as Christ, the Word of God (John 1). It is metaphorically a kind of flame: it is an actual or literal word--for “Burbank,” the Gospel of Mark--and an actual person. The second possibility is that reference may be to the the eye of the individual reader. In such a case, the reader’s own eye may protrude incomprehendingly into the scene, or see whatever it selects to see by its own lights. This is where we all begin. One may be leaden and sink into the water like Peter sometimes: the way is not easy. We have discussed all this in the previous posts. In this case, of course, one must be careful to clear one’s eyes. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank [= a 2x4 board or beam] in your own eye? You hypocrite [=”super judge,” “Grand Inquisitor”] first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Jesus, Matt.7:3-5 NIV) One’s own eyes and the planks typically found in them are the primary theme of this whole quatrain. Eliot is trying to help the reader (all his readers, to the extent possible) in this respect, depending on one’s qualities as a Burbank to begin with. One might say that in “Burbank” he addresses many “Antonios,” in fact, all the “merchants of Venice” at once. He attempts a personal education with the aim of making them, in the context of the poem, more Petrine. He does not satirize any of them. Not to repeat what has already been adequately said on the subject in previous posts, the “protozoic slime” of line 18 and “perspective of Canaletto” of line 19 indicate Eliot’s stepping back behind or above the perspective of Spengler--who sees “culture” as so many kinds of cultures-as-organisms among others, like Canaletto sees the parts of Venice. Canaletto does not present “Venice,” but only a sort of gloomy survey of Venice, a certain set view of Venice. This is how Spengler sees “cultures as organisms.” Eliot steps back not in the direction of anything Darwinian but rather toward the single or monadical organism that is behind all organisms or toward the monadical organism of all organisms as treated in such writings as Liebnitz’ _Protogaea_ and Lotze’s _Mikrokosmos_. This distinction from Spengler--who thought of all non-European races as colored-- is all but melodramatic (at least by Eliotic standards) with the appearance in the 7th & 8th quatrains of Sir Ferdinand Klein, heir of Abraham, and European, American, and African (=Black, Red, White) without distinction. 8th quatrain In connection with what has just been said--and incidentally also recalling Ferdinand Lowe’s primiere in Vienna (Eliot’s first poetry had primiered in Chicago) of Liszt’s _Christus_ , probably (as it happens) the operatic equivalent of the perspectival conflict found in reviews of Eliot’s “Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar” --wasn’t there also a German mathematician named “Klein” who was roughly a contemporary of the American botanist Luther Burbank and who worked in Leibnitzian mathematical “groups” or sorts of monadical “organisms” as the _ne plus ultra_ of Western mathematics? Guy Story Brown, Dallas & LA email@example.com "Brown"-"Julius" (Was Judge Julius/Brooker for the defense) To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: "Brown"-"Julius" (Was Judge Julius/Brooker for the defense) From: STORYBROWN@aol.com Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 20:00:20 EST In a message dated 11/17/98 11.08.56 pm, email@example.com wrote: <<if we refuse to face the music, we are likely to go on producing lengthy, twisting "readings" of Eliot that explain away his apparent anti-Semitism-- the sorts of readings that make otherwise neutral parties scoff at the "sophistry" of Eliot's defenders, and which make Julius (and others) feel it is their "sad duty," as you put it, to "step up," yet again, and "admit the truth" about Eliot. . . . I will [...] urge anyone new to the list to read (or try to read) Guy Brown's so-called "Ultimate Burbank" when you can, since it provides such an extreme illustration [...] of what I am talking about.>> Listers, In scrolling through the backlog of recent messages on this and related topics, I am gratified to see at least that if there is any occasion anyone might concoct to mention my name and that of Anthony Julius in the same breath it is to observe that he is in every way the opposite of everything I represent or stand for. So, however difficult (as David Chinitz emphasizes) my posts may have been to try to read, that much, at least -- which may be the most important thing -- comes through, for which I am thankful. I apologize again, now, as I did all along when I was posting on "Burbank" on the list last June, for any difficulty in reading my posts. The reading of "Burbank" given there was composed as I posted it. It is not only emailese but, as it were, a *seriatim* first draft. So of course it is not polished. Subsequently I have finished a complete interpretation of "Gerontion" which runs to about 100 pages probably, with notes, and am now working to convert my "Burbank" posts into similar essay form -- much more readable, and with notes. When this is done, I will seek a publisher for the two pieces. Meantime, I am working on Shakespeare and (especially) on John Calhoun, which must have priority, since these manuscripts have been invited by presses, and still job- seeking. But there is no need to go into <<lengthy, twisting "readings" of Eliot that explain away his apparent anti-Semitism-- the sorts of readings that make otherwise neutral parties scoff at the "sophistry". . . >> on the point David Chinitz asserts, and refer everyone to my posts on "Burbank" in the archives: I can easily address this claim briefly right here. To do so, I will take up (without prejudice) part of Russ Mayne's statement in the same series of recent posts: <<I do not see any difference between Mr.Sheetz's attack and say, 'the jew is underneath the lot.' I am NOT claming anyone on this list is anti-semitic nor am i claiming that you have to be anti-semitic to read Eliot. .. . >> Specifically, will use the phrase from this statement "The jew is underneath the lot," which of course is from "Burbank." I believe this is the same line that is presented in the story about Eliot at the very beginning of Julius' project as a kind of inaugural.-- "The jew is underneath the lot" occurs as line 23 of "Burbank," that is, at about the middle (line 7) of the poem's second part (the part about Birth). By that time (as I have shown on the list), after several readings, the addressee has begun to understand what Burbank is doing and who Bleistein ("Lead-Stone") is, in the first part (the part about about Death). When the line is just introduced in a polemic -- e.g., <I do not see any difference between Mr.Sheetz's attack and say, 'the jew is underneath the lot.'> -- we must (setting the polemic aside) restore its immediate context (sixth quatrain) in order to recall what it originally meant. I will do this using two points of departure in understanding what is meant by "the lot" in the sixth quatrain. First, let all ask what -- on the surface, superficially, least sophisticatedly, most Canaletto-ish, and above all least "sophistically" -- is "the lot"? It is "the Rialto" (line 21 = the market center, the agora, the "city") and "the piles" ( line 22 = the poles that provide the artificial foundation of the city and keep it from sinking into its lagoons and canals) and "the rats" (line 22 = merchant Venetians). Underneath all this ("the lot," the whole "perspective of Canaletto" and more) -- agora, piles, sewer-life (St. Sebastian died/lived in the sewer) -- in line 23 is "the jew," in short, the true and solid foundation of the Republic of St. Mark, of the city either (depending on the account) founded by or repeatedly saved by and since belonging to St. Mark. This solid foundation is "the jew." What can this mean? Who is the solid, true foundation, the rock, under the artificial foundation and market of the Republic of St. Mark? Is this not evident? We might ask: well, who is "the jew" that one immediately and necessarily associates with St. Mark (who was himself born Jewish), patron of Venice, Republic of St. Mark? Any anti-semite knows well who this is and must admit it. The prouder he or she is, the more humiliating the admission will be. (Hence, some will doubtless refuse the admission out of pride.) Or, let us go on, Who is the jew immediately and necessarily associated with with St. Sebastian, who was not a Jew, to whom our attention is particularly drawn by the author in the epigraph (and in the fifth quatrain, in implicit contrast to Canaletto)? St. Sebastion is no Jew. To deny the Jew is not to deny the Jews anything, but only oneself. Who is "The Jew"? What doubt can there possibly be? What person, however "anti-Jewish" can gainsay as much? Jesus Christ is "the jew who is underneath the lot." This reading is what David Chinitz says is "sophistic" and justifies the work of Anthony Julius, which it stimulates, etc., etc. Rather, this realization has the poetic force (for reader-merchants) in "Burbank's" Venice of Jesus' overturning the money-changers' tables and cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem in the Gospel of Mark -- "He . . . would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts," but taught them, saying "My house is a house of prayer for all nations but you have made it a den of robbers," etc. (Mk 11:15-18) -- for Venice is the city of the original "ghetto," where Jews were first (in post-Roman times) set aside to live and work, as a symbol of Venetian pride. (The Venetian name "ghetto" provides the derivation of this now widely-applied term). Without this realization-rebuke a reader is left with the merchant-temple as it was in 33 AD, or with commercial Venice, greatest human artifact, as "ultimately" the adversarial spitting and spleen match of Antonio and Shylock and their like -- so much sewer life. This is where we came in (i.e., to the sixth quatrain, line 21): "On the Rialto, once," (viz., "The Merchant of Venice"). Is "once" also for ever and all? Is there no exit? As I have indicated here and in earlier posts, this is not the conclusion of the sixth quatrain, still less of "Burbank" any more than it is of the "Merchant of Venice," however passionately it is so proclaimed. Secondly, there is a further meaning to the word "piles" in line 22. "Piles" is the term used by all to identify the man-made foundations of the city. We have just discussed this. (Anyone who is worn out by this lengthy, twisty reading, or who cannot follow its vague extremisms any further may hit the delete button and return to Anthony Julius or just go on to his or her next incoming post now.) "Piles" has another and in this context deeper meaning, viz., hairs. In this sense, it is connected both with the term "furs" in line 24, and with the allusion to Shakespeare's "Merchant" in line 21, the play about the commercial republic Venice in which the merchants/moneylenders in truth are in every way of the same race -- brothers under the skin (= among other things, their selfish pride and their empty professions of religion). "Furs" are merely "proud skins." "Piles" and "furs" point to skin, human skin, the betrayal of brothers by brothers (e.g., the betrayal of Joseph, who had the coat/skin of many colors, by his brothers, whose coats were of one color, although Joseph in the end forgave and saved them in Egypt), and to allusions to the African slave trade in the West (and to the reference to "all nations" in the account of Mark just cited) and, ultimately, to the betrayal of self in other lines, under all of which "skins," according to "Burbank," is the blood of Christ. "The Jew" is ("ultimately") already at the center of the picture in "Burbank" (1st *and* 2nd parts), as I have said in earlier posts. That Jew is just not Julius. Incidentally, this does not mean Eliot is therefore "Anti-Julius," or any kind of "adversary" toward Julius, there is just no connection between them. No relation. Obviously, the interpretation of "Burbank" cannot be left at this, for, to say nothing of other things, the poem consists of eight quatrains, not merely the sixth, as well as the longest epigraph in all of Eliot. And there is much more that may be said of the sixth quatrain of "Burbank," certainly, including things that arise from considerations of the quatrains that come before and after so, that its place in the whole can be properly seen. But this is sufficient to point to the problem of taking an Eliotic line out of context in order to make a claim about it (or something else). Its Eliotic meaning is composed by and ultimately depends on its Eliotic context, including its Eliotic interior (sub-surface, depth, temple-cleansed-of-the-multitude quiet), which, whatever else it may entail, one may reach in the first place only by remembering the first rule of Eliot's poetry: "honi soit qui mal y pense." -- This is, incidentally, just about the opposite of any rule of Anthony Julius about anything having to do with Eliot ("I am the adversarial reader!" &c), and that fact, not, pace David Chinitz, anything I ever said or wrote, is what <<make[s] Julius (and others) feel it is their "sad duty," as you put it, to "step up," yet again, and "admit the truth" about Eliot>>. It is sad, certainly, but it is not a duty; it is a choice, even a deliberate personal choice, in which there is little air and no light. Please excuse any typos. Blessings, Guy Story Brown firstname.lastname@example.org Arwin's Mark & Jack's "Parallelism" To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: Arwin's Mark & Jack's "Parallelism" From: STORYBROWN@aol.com Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 01:24:04 EST Arwin van Arum, -- Returning to a full emailbox I note that Arwin has scolded me as little, or complained, about my references to St. Mark in connection with "Burbank," and pointed out that some might know about Mark's Jewishness and his relation to Venice and some might not, etc., and that such things certainly cannot be presumed to be common knowledge throughout the literary world. I agree that some will and some won't be aware, and all the rest, including its not being common knowledge -- but it is a point that anyone who looks into a Baedecker (or reasonable analog) for Venice will discover in less time than it takes to tell. (Also, without such a guide, unless one is pretty well read in the scholarship, the allusion to St. Mark's church in the third quatrain will not be noted and hence brought to bear on the question of the whereabouts of Burbank and the Princess at that time.) in any case, the relation of St. Mark to Venice is important to "Burbank," as I have indicated in prior posts. A second thing that one quickly learns from such a guide that might have some bearing on "Burbank" is that Venice is well known as the site of the most famous of all European Jewish cantons. This was not because it was the largest or most important but because it was the first major Jewish canton in Europe. It was located in an area of Venice called the "ghetto," which name came in time to refer to all Jewish (and, subsequently, other) "ghettos." One might well anticipate some Eliotic reflection upon this fact in a poem about Venice that includes prominant and even provocative reference to Jews. Of course, there is always the possibility that Eliot himself was merely a Venetian in this regard, and that he faithfully reflected the guide-book views of the Venetians (Jewish or Gentile) in his poem about Venice. Jack Kroll-- Well, maybe the third time is the charm. In a message dated 12/10/98 4:49:54 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: << The rats are underneath the piles. The jew is underneath the lot. this is not the simplest kind of parallelism? No? You jest, surely.? Let's say eliot had written: The rats are underneath the piles. The jews are underneath the lot. Awful, of course. the silliest kind of comicbook image. rats must be plural to express the infestation. but jew must be singular for the same reason. because that infestation isn't physical, it's metaphysical. but again, those lines must be two of the most parallel lines in english poetry. ... jews ... underneath. ... not to mention the subsequent words: Money in furs. so what is there, in all honesty, to argue about, with talmudic, jesuitical pretzel-thinking?>> This amounts to saying that Eliot wrote "The Jew" in the 23rd line of "Burbank" in order to avoid <the silliest kind of comicbook image>, which would have been conveyed had he written "The Jews," which is what he really meant. The only thing I agree with here is that Eliot did not write "The Jews are underneath the lot." Let's don't say he did -- that's Julius' sort of reading. Let's look more carefully at these <<two of the most parallel lines in english poetry>> First, the 22nd-23rd lines of "Burbank" are not a "parallelism." The rats are underneath the piles. The jew is underneath the lot. At most they say: "A is to B [i.e., "underneath"] as C is to D" [i.e., "underneath"]. The relationship emphasized is "underneath-ness." They are each underneath something. In this only are they in any conception "parallel." However, the point is that one of these is underneath the other, and hence distinct and even opposite, in any case, greater. "A" is underneath "B" is one independent sentence. "C" is underneath "D" is one independent sentence. "C" is distinguished from "A." "C," The Jew (a Jew, one Jew), is NOT "A" (rats). "C" is something else. This is elementary. "D" (the lot) includes "A" (the rats) AND "B" (the piles) AND, also, the first and "surface" line of the quatrain, the Rialto (line 21). It is "ALL the above." Another way of saying this is "D" (= "A" + "B" + Rialto) is Not "C." Underneath "D" (i.e., underneath ALL the above: the Rialto; "B," the piles underneath the Rialto; and "A," the rats underneath the piles), and the ONLY thing mentioned as underneath "D," the lot, is "C," The Jew (a Jew). "C" (and only "C") is somewhere else. See? This is pretty simple. A couple of questions of the poem (not merely of these two lines) would be, if The Jew is something else than the rats, then "who (or what) is The Jew," and, if the Jew is somewhere else than Venice and the foundations of Venice, then "where" is The Jew? Now, let us look at the 22nd line: "The rats are underneath the piles." What does it mean? Let us take Jack's tack and be very literal and obvious, <<in all honesty.>> It means that "the rats," that is, rodents (like mice or squirrels) are underneath "the piles," that is, the artfully-crafted wood foundation (called piles) underlying the city of Venice, so that it seems miraculously to float on or rise out of the surface of the water. This is perfectly accurate, but it will of course satisfy very few readers, for the literal meaning of the words does not convey a literal truth. Rats are not really under the piles of Venice. They cannot be. That is, the line literally does not mean oh, the rats they're chewin', gnawin 'neath the piles For, they cannot get down there, and could not live there if they could, &c. So, the author's meaning in the line is metaphorical, not literal. Jack sort of points to this by saying, <that infestation isn't physical> That is, the rats represent something. This is indicated by the fact that the author specifies "The" rats, i.e., certain rats, or a certain kind or meaning of rats. The line points to a different level of meaning than the literal. (I note in passing that I appreciate the metrical need to say something, and observe that the author may easily contrive to say what he wishes within his selected form and meter.) What do they represent? What's the point of this line? They may represent whatever you like, no doubt, once all literalism is out the window. However, to discover Eliot's meaning, one must leave this ersatz "parallelism" and look again at the opening line just above (21), i.e., the Venetian marketplace and the allusion to Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," the story of (among other things) Antonio and Shylock. This allusion is grounded in the 21st line of the quatrain, that is, in the letter of the quatrain. It is to that extent literal. Let us look at the 22nd line with this allusion in mind. Declines. On the Rialto once. The rats are underneath the piles. The piles are the artificial physical foundation for the physical buildings of Venice, but "Venice" is much more than those physical buildings of the Rialto (i.e., the body) painted by Canaletto, and their artificial physical foundation. The true life of the city, it's soul, is in commerce, in principle, world commerce. Venice is a market-city, in fact, the archtypal commercial republic. It's life/soul is buying low and selling high, profiteering, an artificial legal & spiritual swirl of Mine & Thine. The true or "natural" foundation (per Hobbes & Locke) of the commercial republic is profiteering and merchandising, i.e., the merchants. "The rats" in line 22 ultimately represent the merchants providing the natural foundation of the commercial republic, that is, following the allusion in the 21st line, we may say, Shylock and Antonio, who, though they pretend and proclaim difference, are in fact the same under the skin. They are the foundation of the commercial republic as the piles are the foundation of the buildings. The Jew that is underneath the Rialto, rats, and piles in the following, independent line (24), who or whatever and wherever he may be, is other than these "natural man," merchant rats. We may go further and note that the term "piles," also means hairs. Under the hair, or skin, the merchants are all the same (the "natural man"), brothers who envy, cheat, and even buy and sell -- or generally betray -- one another for apparent personal gain. This, "Money in furs" (line 24), weighing others who are the same in money-terms, is the world-view of the true merchant. (I have mentioned the betrayal of Joseph -- of the fine coat ["furs"] of many colors -- by all of his brothers in this connection, as well as the more obvious betrayal.) Immediately, the smiling boatman arrives with the princess. A question would be, who is the boatman with princess? (This question only makes sense if one takes seriously the presentation of the poem itself as a sort of Venetian mask in the epigraph.) So, looking at the 22nd and 23rd lines alone gradually leads us to look at the quatrain (lines 21-24) in which they occur as a whole. 21 -- ". . . Declines" (i.e., in the first place from the surface -- the Rialto) The quatrain begins in the 21st line with the word "Declines." We are going downward. The sixth quatrain of "Burbank" is a descent. Then the author mentions the Rialto, the marketplace of the city (alluding to Shakespeare), that is, we are on the surface, as though looking at a Canaletto of Venice. 22 -- ". . . underneath . . ." Then the author goes underneath the city reveals what Canaletto never shows, the artificial and the natural foundations of the city and its life: the human truth of the city -- both as the Venetian Republic itself, including the mansion of Antonio and the ghetto-dwelling of Shylock, and as the City of Man as such. 23 -- ". . . underneath . . ." Then the author goes underneath or beyond the artificial and natural foundations of the city and its life, that is, beyond or outside the City of Man, to "The Jew" to indicate the supernatural foundations of the City of God, the true Republic of St. Mark. 24-- "Money . . ." (returns up thru piles [="furs"] to surface -- boatman) Then the author returns to the surface through the artificial-natural foundational "piles"/"furs" of the city -- betrayal -- to a canal (silent pun on Canaletto) and the smiling boatman. The sixth quatrain is thus a descent followed by an ascent. The author particularly does not refer to a gondolier but to a boatman who smiles. This is not for metrical reasons but because he wants us to see, having seen or experienced the descent as we have just described it above, that the boatman is like Charon, who ferries the dead across the river Styx to Hades, come for us. He has the mask of Death, the smiling skull. (Perhaps the line begins with the term "Money" because Charon only ferries those who have two obols in their mouths.) He means for the reader to face this reality, the reality of his or her own morality and judgement. The issue is our own fidelity and the constant temptation of betrayal. The last line is funereal, but it is also happy, although this (like the boatman behind the mask) is another issue or level which we have previously discussed and need not take up here. As I have indicated in other posts, all the eight quatrains of "Burbank" exhibit similar complexity and depth, and, with the title and epigraph, form a whole that is characterized by a developing objective interiority that, however, does not disclose itself to an adversarial or to any casual reading. The insistence that this interiority is "nothing" in fact strives to replace that interiority with its own, and it naturally succeeds. This is why Eliot often said to interlocutors about this or that poem that it means "what you want it to mean." Because of his manner of reference, Eliot's poems are often almost mirrors. Looking at them, what we want to know, I should think, is what Eliot meant. I recognize the hermeneutic risks in such an assertion. I think they're surmountable. Please excuse typos. Guy Story Brown email@example.com -- end of 1998 GSB Burbank posts --