Poet T.S. Eliot, who wrote the memorable phrase, "Humility is endless."
(This week: Page 398, "The Indians were a band of Shoshones," to page 406, "even though he was now convinced it was the system he himself had been growing toward for many years.")
"Humility is endless." I certainly felt plenty of humility when I read this section twice and realized I could not really think of much of anything to add to Hagbard Celine's lecture on the dangers of egotism when one believes one has found enlightenment. Help me out on this one, guys and gals! But I can at least help with a couple of the references.
"I've read T.S. Eliot, and now I understand him. 'Humility is endless.' " (Page 402).
George Dorn is quoting from "East Coker," from Eliot's Four Quartets.
Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
"He felt sorry for the woman who had written that: Pitiful modern version of the maddened Saint Simon on his pillar in the desert." (Page 403)
For once, my interest in Late Antiquity pays off; I recognize the reference to the very strange life of Saint Simeon Stylites (about 390 A.D. to 459 AD), who for many years lived on top of a pillar; good Christian pilgrims seeking his wisdom would have to climb up to talk with him. Notice that while many modern people would simply consider the saint a raving lunatic, in his day the saint was considered a very holy and a very enlightened person. Shit Head, Holy Man, indeed ("He wondered what the H.M. and S.H. stood for," pages 404-405.)
(Next week: "Mmm," she said, "I like that smell," page 406, to "The only thing to do was find a hole and bury myself," page 416.)