As you may have noticed, what I’m trying to do here is provide very punchy, powerful, easy-to-get-with emotional insights. Lots of great poems, plays and novels have beautiful stretches in them that lead up to, or include, something brief and powerful. I’m looking for these moments to feature in blog posts on this site. Similarly, with paintings, music and sculpture, I’m looking for examples that are so vivid and powerful that they provide great examples of what emotional insight is.
T.S. Eliot wrote the poems that became the lyrics to the smash Broadway play, “Cats.” Another famous poem of his is “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” It starts like this. Feel every word of it with your whole heart and see if it wakes anything up in you. The first three lines are particularly famous (by the way, ether is an anesthetic; doctors can use it to knock a patient out, prior to an operation):
LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question….
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
Those first three lines are amazing in the sense that they speak very directly to your emotional ability and, as far as I can tell at this time, just about completely bypass your intellectual ability. That is to say, I can’t tell you at all in what intellectual sense an evening can be like a patient who has been knocked out with ether; but emotionally, my response to those first lines is, “Yes – I like that – I totally get that.”
Do you feel it?