The Wasteland is a text of mysteries. While there might be some that tear their hair out over these mysteries, analyzing with scrupulous eyes, I embrace the mystery. I try to read the text for what it is, pretty sounding words put together nicely, and if there’s a deeper meaning to find, hopefully I’ll see it. In the past I really tried to delve deep into the true meanings of books and stories, often looking to hard to even appreciate the work for what it is.
But I had a revelation with “The Wasteland”. At first I was completely puzzled by it all. Truly lost, trying to find meaning within sentences which eluded me and confused me to no end. Yet my revelation came when I remembered a conversation with an old friend from highschool. He was midway through reading James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake” for a school project, and when I asked him how he managed to make sense of it all, he told me this. “I don’t make sense of anything anymore, there’s no use. Instead I just read the words for what they are, if Joyce says ‘Bisons is Bisons’, well then ‘Bisons is Bisons’.” He ended up doing pretty well on his project, so I guess he’s got this wild complicated literature stuff figured out.
It’s not that I’m saying we should avoid discussion or not ponder what “The Wasteland” means, but perhaps we should just try to read it and simply enjoy it. But of course, part of the fun of “The Wasteland” is its intricate allusions and references to older more ancient texts. It’s almost as if T.S. Eliot was re-tweeting all of the great writers of the past, throwing in his own little phrases amongst the references.
Perhaps a large part of why I enjoyed “The Wasteland” so much is that it was nice and short. Perhaps I should thank Ezra Pound, who trimmed out the unnecessary fat from T.S. Eliot’s original work. While the Wasteland is dense and colorful writing to analyze, it’s a different type of density compared to let’s say Hobbes’s “Leviathan” (probably also because it’s not sitting at around >400 pages). I really can’t say I made too much sense out of “The Wasteland”, but it’s easily one of the most memorable texts so far. I saw it almost the same way I see interpretive dance (something which I don’t know anything about), something that is there to be appreciated, and if you find deeper meanings, well that’s awesome!