A few highlights from Mockingbird favorite T.S. Eliot and his often overshadowed play “The Confidential Clerk.” This play in particular speaks to the tragedy of the divided self in conflict with oneself. For more from Eliot go here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
“I’m not at all sure that I like the other person
That I feel myself becoming – though he fascinates me.
And yet from time to time, when I least expect it,
When my mind is cleared and empty, walking in the street
Or waking in the night, then the former person,
The person I used to be, returns to take possession:
And I am again the disappointed organist,
And for a moment the thing I cannot do,
The art that I could never excel in,
Seems the one thing worth doing, the one thing
That I want to do. I have to fight that person.”
“But when I am alone, and look at one [sculpture] long enough,
I sometimes have that sense of identification
With the man of which I spoke [ note: himself] – an agonizing ecstasy
Which makes life bearable. It’s all I have.
I suppose it takes the place of religion:
Just as my wife’s investigations
Into what she calls the life of the spirit
Are a kind of substitute religion.
I dare say truly religious people -
I’ve never known any – can find some unity.”
“Just when you think you’re on the point of release
From loneliness, then loneliness swoops down upon you;
When you think you’re getting out, you’re getting further in,
And you know at last that there’s no escape”
“Wishes, when realised, sometimes turn
Against those who have made them”
“Now that I’ve abandoned my illusions and ambitions
All that’s left is love. But not on false pretenses”