I'm interested in what Voss and Werner meant by "internal forces of wastage" in the archive and how these relates to an article I read a few years ago about The Waste Land. Voss and Werner argue that the archive is "comprised of material 'citations'" that establish the archive's "proximity to a loss– of other citations, of citations of otherness" (ii). The Waste Land is similarly comrpised of mostly allusions and citations as well. Eliot, however, often changes the allusions in a slight unexpected way. For example, "April is the cruellest month" alludes to and adapts Chaucer's original line. I think there's a interesting dynamic between the use of an altered allusion. Maud Ellman argues in "A Sphinx without a Secret" that the allusions in the poem function as the voice of dead poets and authors who dominate the text and replace the speaker/author's voice. She, with this argument, reads the poem as the Fisher-King's failure to regenerate and end the cycle of waste. From what I remember, she doesn't spend much time discussing the altered states of most of the allusions (I could be completely wrong on this). To me, these changes represent "the breakdown of the archive's integrity that is most visible during moments of great documentary shifts" (Voss iii). I think this technique also points towards Eliot's essay on the Individual talent that Kent's already mentioned. Do the changed allusions still represent wastage, or does Eliot make them something new, something fertile?
Internal Wastage in The Waste Land
Submitted by William Quinn on Mon, 03/05/2012 - 16:27