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For the Chymically Wasted Old Reader: A note on Marc Vincenz and Tom Bradley’s This Wasted Land and its Chymical Illuminations

By T. Thilleman.

The historical literary footnote The Waste Land itself is never merited the kind of readership Marc Vincenz and Tom Bradley’s This Wasted Land now does.

The change, from then to now, is everywhere. And yet, the persistence of a footnote that commands more attention than it ever deserved is here put, finally and thankfully, to rest.

Eliot’s The Waste Land should have, for all intents and purposes, never seen the light of day. But it did, thanks to Pound, that Miglior Fabbro who circumcised it in order to save it from every snigger it mustered out of dull sedentary pap. And still does, no matter the pile of academic papers it annually creates to avoid such sniggering.

For it was snoggering was the subject of the Anti-Semite Eliot, evoking all the crass upper-class-ness that would produce Europe’s finest Nazi sympathizers and faggot smashers. Snoggering and sodomizing, or at the very least that hated thing Pound himself couldn’t stand: Usury. But of course it was all about money, wasn’t it? As if the limp man, the Jew (and his double the homosexual) had no place in the new “economic” order. And oh, those retched boring women who come and go, talking of…

And here now it keeps approaching, too, that same old saw: economy. Let’s shave off this to save plump that. So Pound with his scalpel on Eliot’s prepuce. The erection can be swifter and lighter, the helmet more apt to penetrate the….the what?

Well of course it is the matter of art to penetrate the what. Yes, of course. Penetrate the what and do it by any means necessary. So every hair-brain literary whore thinks they are something if they understand the obliquity of The Waste Land while eschewing its provenance.

The early long-winded drafts of Eliot’s attempt at poetry aimed right at the centre of the psychological nightmare Joyce alluded to in his interview with Djuna Barnes in 1922:

“…seeing, thinking, saying does to what you Freudians call the subconscious—but as for psychoanalysis…it’s neither more nor less than blackmail.”

The blackmail of The Waste Land was, of course, completely psychological. As it managed to eschew any analysis. It’s a wonder that the put-down of weaker men, as its theme attests, be given literary readership. But that’s what Pound accomplished with his Miglior, snipping away at Eliot’s limp Fabbro, until it stood erect and helmeted, ready to enter the….enter what?!

If Vincenz and Bradley have proved nothing else by their beautiful book, it is the final excommunication of The Waste Land from the literary into the manumission of capable and fecund literacy.

Indeed, the women do come and go, talking of…

The only reverent quality that would remain from such a work would be the ability to re-read it in the light of this Chymical Wedding of overtone and undertow.

It is so incredibly ironic the so-called new age is marked by falling readerships in literature. While that might be debated in one appraisal or another the fact remains that reading, as in listening to a multi-phonic musical score, brings us out of the absolute subterfuge we know contributed mightily to WW II and its aftermath, the globalized reality we have been since wailing and weaving out of.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

T. Thilleman migrated to New York from the Midwestern State of Wisconsin in the early 80’s. For a brief period he worked for Pace Editions and the artist Chuck Close on handmade paper editions under the direction of the late Joe Wilfer. Throughout the 90’s he helped edit Poetry New York and their pamphlet series. He is the author of poetry collections including Three Sea Monsters, Onönyxa & Therseyn (opening book for an extended work, Sketches), and the novel Gowanus Canal, Hans Knudsen.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, December 20th, 2014.