The unprecedented bloodshed, terror, and violence that blanketed Europe during World War I left the people at the War's end saddened and detached, and the world, "chaotic and fragmented" (Tepper, p.79). Over ten million people had died, had been slaughtered, not counting those who later fell from the wounds, diseases, poverty, and starvation in which the Great War had abandoned them. The people of Europe stood motionless, still shocked from the "suffered occupation and carnage [they had experienced] at a previously unimaginable level" during the War (p.75). The poet T.S. Eliot was among these disenchanted, dissociated Europeans, having himself lost his "intimate friend" Jean Verdenal, "a young French medical student and aspiring poet," to the merciless, bloodthirsty War (Dean, p.51).
[...] From a distance, Eliot can remember the past of happy, carefree sledding and then, through contrasting his memories of the past with the “brown land” of emptiness, superficiality, and crime he now impersonally views before him, is able to pass his sad conclusion on modern society onto the reader: who were living are now dying,” that is, society has fallen miserably from its glorious past (l.14; l.175; l.329). During this same time of war and unease, Sigmund Freud's extensively publicized psychoanalysis quickly spread the theory that the mind of man was instinctually driven by insatiable and self-destructive aggressive and sexual impulses. [...]
[...] Asexuality, then, allowed him to disconnect from the notions of fertility and birth associated with sexuality and the violence in man's nature he believed destroyed the happiness of the past via World War I. Thus, he could sit and judge from the outside, unable to generate more sexuality and, in turn, violence, in the reproductive sense while also being separate from sexuality and violence as they existed currently in the world. Abstraction through asexuality separated Eliot from society from its very root, man's most basic nature and impulse, thereby making him even more impersonally detached than he could have through any other means of abstraction. [...]
[...] Eliot, famous clairvoyant” that Eliot's attempt at abstraction through asexuality in The Waste Land is a failed one due to passages which he feels “[produce strongly misogynistic and] offensive literary representations of women” (p.46). Dean points to characters like the aforementioned wealthy woman and the indifferent rape victim of the clerk as his evidence. On first glance such would appear the case; however, he fails to realize that Eliot is not specifically targeting women but society, in general. Had Eliot had a “near-phobic hatred of women” as Dean indicates, he would not have conveyed the Golden Age, the glory and purity he felt the past contained, through the eyes of Marie, a woman. [...]
[...] In the end, it is not Teiresias' job to physically save the typist, and similarly, it is not Eliot's job to save the world. Teiresias and Eliot's power and importance lies in their ability to detach themselves from their surroundings through their asexuality, allowing them to see the world and its condition most clearly. Passing their knowledge and judgments onto mankind through asexual prophecy and poetry, respectively, they unify both man and woman under a single “throbbing” pain. A with the hope that in realizing and accepting the world's sullied and fallen condition since the end of bloody World War every [...]
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