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View Diary: Books That Changed My Life - How lust, Steppenwolf, and hunger got me into college (83 comments)

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  •  Your diary is halfway between everyman & eccentric (12+ / 0-)

    genius (as I expected, from you). Thanks for bringing so much of yourself to the community, and for the second and third diary you're compiling, in your generous responses to your readers.

    I caught a Hesse bug in my teens, read half a dozen, found Steppenwolf compelling and The Glass Bead Game transporting.

    Eliot shifted a lot of copies of From Ritual to Romance, but The Golden Bough was a book with many memes whose time had come, so Eliot was one of a myriad authors and thinkers it influenced:

    Despite the controversy the work generated, and its critical reception amongst other scholars, The Golden Bough inspired the creative literature of the period. The poet Robert Graves adapted Frazer's concept of the dying king sacrificed for the good of the kingdom to the romantic idea of the poet's suffering for the sake of his Muse-Goddess, as reflected in his book on poetry, rituals, and myths, The White Goddess (1948). William Butler Yeats refers to Frazer's thesis in his poem "Sailing to Byzantium". H. P. Lovecraft mentions the book in his short story "The Call of Cthulhu". T. S. Eliot acknowledged indebtedness to Frazer in his first note to his poem The Waste Land. William Carlos Williams refers to it in Book Two, part two, of his extended poem in five books Paterson. Sigmund Freud, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, D. H. Lawrence, Aleister Crowley, Ezra Pound, William Gaddis, Mary Renault, Joseph Campbell, Roger Zelazny, Naomi Mitchison (in her The Corn King and the Spring Queen), and Camille Paglia, are some of the authors whose work shows the deep influence of The Golden Bough. Its literary ripples and references have given it continued life, even as its direct influence in anthropology has waned.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 09:56:28 AM PDT

    •  Brecht, your knowledge of literature is profound, (9+ / 0-)

      even awe-inspiring. You and The Geogre must be twins, separated at birth! :)

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 10:49:02 AM PDT

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    •  Frazer and Glazer (8+ / 0-)

      I think you're right about The Golden Bough, but it's hard, past 1929, to say what's an influence of TSE and what isn't. I hope you don't mind a bit of academibabble.

      Absolutely, the zeitgeist was bubbling through with it. I would point to:
      1. Modernist art's influences from African masks that awakened an interest in archetypes as well as the subconscious (Surrealism). The former meant a hunger for comparative anthropology.
      2. The late-stage nationalist myths of those idiots (I may have a slight hostility toward them). You know who I mean -- Hitler's crowd, but also Yeats's fascists, the Golden Dawn people, the theosophists and their tarot cards. They were trying to come up with an ur-myth that would be, alas, ethnic or national, and began with the assumption that archeology of anything pagan would lead there. (Graves was a big fool in my opinion, but I may be a big fool, too. I think one of us has to be.)

      On the other hand, anthropology itself almost went physical as a reaction, except for Claude Levi-Strauss and some others who would father/mother semiotics. To me, semiotics is a colder but safer product of the approach Frazer had started with.

      I do think, though, that the heyday was over among intellectuals, and yet those "Notes" kept people reading Frazer all through the 1960's and beyond.

      "man, proud man,/ Drest in a little brief authority,. . . Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven/ As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,/ Would all themselves laugh mortal." -- Shakespeare, Measure for Measure II ii, 117-23

      by The Geogre on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 10:54:41 AM PDT

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      •  T.S. Eliot was the David Bowie of Modernism, Ezra (7+ / 0-)

        Pound its Lou Reed (well, except for Ezra's anti-semitism). Ezra's famous for his intuitive Gordian editing of The Waste Land; I'm sure he also turned Eliot on to a lot of sources and currents of art outside the mainstream.

        it's hard, past 1929, to say what's an influence of TSE and what isn't.
        Quite. There's always an archaeological excavation involved, when we project ourselves back a century and try to gauge who influenced whom, and how reputations rose and fell, based on the more recent literary historians and interpreters we've encountered. That was one of Eliot's favorite pastimes, probing bygone literary currents, and rearranging the river of fashion, closer to his own taste. And he had great skill at this.

        Most of your points make sense to me, and all of them are interesting.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 11:15:41 AM PDT

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        •  Ooooh, a new thread! (7+ / 0-)

          Alright, I think:
          TSE was the Brian Eno of Modernism -- "too cerebral" according to the others, but influential on everyone.
          Pound was the Paul Simon -- liked, important, everyone knows that he's vital and important, but no one can point to any one thing and say, 'This is the best thing ever done,' and everyone wants him to have partners.
          Wallace Stevens was the Pere Ubu of Modernism.
          HD was the Emmylou Harris of Modernism -- everyone who knows about her knows that she's better than the people who get the credit (men), but she's still not getting the credit.

          This could be way too much fun.

          John Crowe Ransom is the Gram Parsons?

          "man, proud man,/ Drest in a little brief authority,. . . Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven/ As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,/ Would all themselves laugh mortal." -- Shakespeare, Measure for Measure II ii, 117-23

          by The Geogre on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 11:34:54 AM PDT

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          •  Way too much fun, indeed. (6+ / 0-)

            How about Gertrude Stein? Patti Smith?
            (I think these things can't be thought through too much. First impulse, like playing Jeopardy.

            Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

            by peregrine kate on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 12:06:00 PM PDT

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          •  "Wallace Stevens was the Pere Ubu of Modernism" (6+ / 0-)

            You've already won the thread. Technically, Stevens would be the David Thomas of Modernism - except for the bonus points you get, with a rimshot off Alfred Jarry.

            I had considered that Eliot might be the Bowie (dowsing for tomorrow's fashions, selling the outré to millions), while Pound would be the Eno (recondite and fecund).

            Pound = Simon catches the exploration of obscurities, and making them mainstream (Graceland started a third-world-influence trend). I don't know Pound's poetry well, though the Cantos are famously opaque. The first things I think of with Simon are his great intuition and craft - he has made so many masterpieces.

            I'm an encyclopedia of rock, but my knowledge of Modernism and modernists is too sparse to juggle any further here. I'm planning to write a diary on Modernism vs. Post-Modernism one day, because doing so will force me to clarify the difference for myself. Auto-didactism should be universal - we might develop a meaningful democracy, if it were.

            "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

            by Brecht on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 12:15:39 PM PDT

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