Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Past Changes The Present, And The Present Changes The Past

A plaque at SOAS's Faber Building, 24 Russell ...
“No poet, no artist of any sort, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation, is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists.  You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead.  I mean this as a principle of aesthetic, not merely historical, criticism…what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it.  The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them…the past [is] altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past.” – T S Eliot, Tradition and the Individual Talent, 1909

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