S-Space College of Humanities (인문대학) Institute of Humanities (인문학연구원) Journal of humanities (인문논총) Journal of Humanities vol.52 (2004) (인문논총)
엘리엇, 엔트로피, 그리고 쓰레기: 『황무지』와『네 사중주』의 생태학적 읽기
Eliot, Entropy, and Waste: An Ecologial Reading of The Waste Land and Four Quartets
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 인문대학 인문학연구원
- 인문논총, Vol.52, pp. 161-187
- Since the publication of The Waste Land in 1922, the poem has become the
center of controversy. One of the reasons why it has enjoyed such a variety of
diverse critical opinions is that it is hard to definitely find the message(s) in it. When
the new criticism ruled the day, it was the new critics favorite poem to show how
new criticism worked. No amount of critical endeavor, however, can exhaust the
rich significance of the poem. When the so-called postmodernism came along, the
poem has once again become a favorite target to show how postmodernist the
The poem can have a re-birth as an ecological poem in the 21st century. What I
am going to show in this essay is how much ecologically-concered the poem is.
This can be shown by looking at the title, The Waste Land, itself. Waste in this
case can mean garbage that the technologically-developed world has to produce.
As technology develops, the energy available can become unusable, proliferating
high degree of entropy, a term for useless energy. In this respect, the poem is a
litany of negative catalogue of waste.
We can naturally ask whether there is any way out of the present mess of waste we see around us. The answer to this question can be found in Four Quartets.
Uselsss energy can turn into useful one if we find a way to recycle it. What the
Quartets shows us is exactly the way how we could go about this business. What
we could do to reverse the vicious circle is to turn the linear progression of time
into a cyclical time. This is exactly what happens in the Quartets. By saying that in
my beginning is my end, Eliot shows that the time in the Quartets is a cyclical one.
The cyclical time is that of the mythology and paradise. In this poem Eliot shows
how we can restore harmony in our lives by turning the linear progression of time
into a cyclical one.