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East Coker

As I write, I am beginning to see learning as based on hermeneutics. We learn the world by reading it. We learn about our self by turning in and listening. In all this, we observe and hopefully find meaning. It could be in the form of words, images, and is just as easily what is left out. T. S. Eliot reminds us of the challenges of learning language and finding meaning them in. We learn, unlearn, relearn all in cyclical fashion. We read the world and try to make new sense of it with each iteration as we move back and forth between the whole and the parts to make sense of either. It might seem all a waste, but perhaps it is not.

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years–

Twenty years largely wasted, the years l’entre deux guerres

Trying to use words, and every attemp

Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure

Because one has only learnt to get the better of words

For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which

One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture

Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate

With shabby equipment always deteriorating

In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,

Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer

By strength and submission, has already been discovered

Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope

To emulate–but there is no competition–

There is only the fight to recover what has been lost

And found and lost again and again; and now, under conditions

That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss

For us, there is only the trying, The rest is not our business.

About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

10 responses »

  1. So beautifully illustrated as state of mind!
    I think it, too. Interpretation makes us different and beautiful… the synergy of our senses and thoughts trying to find answers, to understand, to ‘read’ the world…

  2. One of my favourite thought process concepts – hermeneutics and one of my favourite poets! Great post.

  3. I love T. S. . I don’t always understand what he is saying, but love the way he says it. >KB

  4. “…and every attempt/Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure….” Fantastic! Thank you for the intriguing and stimulating post, Ivon.

  5. Excellent. I really love TS Elliot. Thanks Ivon.


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