Many must have this affliction, sincernpaintings radiant with the beauty of thernartist and the model, pieces that prove Picassorncould really paint if he wanted to,rnwent for little money.rnAt the same time as the Paris sale, anrnAmerican gallery mounted a retrospectivernof Jackson Pollock, whose fanfarernone might have recited by heart: O thatrncourageous, refreshingly nose-thumbingrniconoclast! O so uniquely Americanrnoriginalitv! To have come up with a wayrnof painting that annihilated it!rnThe inevitable product of an age obsessedrnwith absolutes of individuality.rnPollock confessed to having run hisrnmethod into the ground before his offhandrnend, although many a tarmac splattedrnwith pigeon droppings, and man’ arndrop cloth besmirched, has taken on newrnmeaning since. Meanwhile, two of Picasso’srnmost formidable contemporaries,rncreators of modernism’s defining worksrnin music and poetry, have entered whatrnone hopes is a temporary eclipse. (‘I’hcrnhope is for humanity, the artists themselvesrnbeing well out of it.) Igor Stravinskyrnand T.S. Eliot, after giving birth tornmonsters of provocation, reconsidered,rnand thought better of it. Their works,rnhardly ever considered together, are intimatelyrninterrelated. “The Waste Land,”rnopening as it does with the now familiarrndirge upon April’s cruelty (which is assumedrnto parody the opening of CanterburyrnTales), pays explicit homage to ThernRite of Spring. Eliot had attended thernLondon debut, risen to his feet in an audiencernnonplussed, and cheered.rnAlthough they did not befriend onernanother until old age, both worked at differentrntimes in artistic seclusion on thernsame stretch of the Lake Geneva shoreline.rnThe two works inspired almostrnidentical public reactions, inciting a notorietyrnthat amounted to scandal —inrnStravinsky’s case it was an actual riot—rnthat soon gave both of them reputationsrnexceeding their art. But there was also arnprolonged crisis for the artists themselves,rnboth of whom split off into shards of miserablernmodernism before embracingrnChristianit’. Their conversions were regardedrnvith an unease that ec[ualed thernoriginal outcry. At the same time, bothrnthe poet and the composer were returningrnphilosophically to the classical traditionsrnof their arts, laboring doggedly tornproduce work to rival any in the realm ofrnideal beaut}’.rnIn a conjunction, unheralded and unpremeditatedrn(as of stars), each in therncourse of 1930 unveiled another watershedrnmasterwork—of spiritual surrender,rnthis time —attuned to the public moodrnensuing upon the Great Grash. Stravinsky’srnA Symphony ofPsahns even shares arnbiblical text with Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday.”rnThe Exaudi supplicationem meamrnwith which the one begins and the “andrnlet my prayer come unto Thee” withrnwhich the other ends, are the first and lastrnlines of the same psalm.rnThis could only have been what it wasrntaken for: a slap in the face of modernism,rnmodernit}’, skepticism and all itsrnworks, though in each case, the despairrnwas real. Their works also represented arnreolt against the cult of personality thatrnhad rendered both of them so public, arncult adhered to by modernists of a widerrnsphere, including Stalin and Hitier, whornpresented themselves as saviors ofrnmankind. Stravin.skv and Eliot were denounced:rnNot only were they bourgeoisrndecadents, they had failed to fulfill thernpromise of their apocalypses.rnWiat, one wonders, was anyone imaginingrnmight be the sequel to a virgin’srnblood sacrifice or to the collapse of civilizedrnconsciousness with corpses in thernstreet, other than what actually did happenrnduring the 20th century? For somernthree centuries now, thoughtful mindsrn(not usually those of artists) have beenrnwitness, Gassandra-like, to the comingrnwar of all against all, although droves ofrnsophists have humored us into paying nornheed. Still, the big thing proceeds, chaoticrnand futilistic, to descend upon us.rnBut to take responsibility for thernprophetic role that artists of the last centuryrnonly dreamt of (and that several ofrnours have actually performed) is to embodyrnsomething beyond mere personalityrnand to move into the perennial, therncatholic, the cosmic, the anonymouslyrnhuman. It requires us to defy the currentrnaxiom —that publicity is the only realit}’,rna reality we must survive by living forrnthings bevond ourselves and for othersrnbesides ourselves. Stravinsky and Eliot,rnas long as they lived, enjoyed uncommonlyrnwidespread, uncommonly perceptive,rnuncommonly devoted approbation,rnhaving voiced the unvoicedrnaspirations of a host of anonymous soulsrnby becoming, themselves, anonymousrnsouls.rnNow, they must seem remote, as publicity’srnrealitv proclaims some poor soulrnthe Hemingwa}’ of a new lost generation.rnI thread through a Paris whose bistrosrnbulge with the new lost generation drinkingrnalone in crowds, museums traffickedrnas the Metro, barren of Hemingway orrnother vestiges of former glories. I learnrnthat “He” is dead. I learn that “He” wasrnnothing but the creature of his editorrnwhose vampire’s knack transformed itsrnvictim’s drivel into a cynical (if sleeklyrncrafted) trash, truly expressive of its time.rnAnd who is to blame? Audiences eagerlyrndevour the hoax of personal celebrity,rnwhile would-be artists who have alreadyrnthrown away their souls line uprnaround the block to try to sell them againrnfor sums that purchase barely a fleeting illusionrnof having lived. There can be nornquestion of achial art in such a world.rnAs the Battle of Britain loomed, Eliotrnclosed his magazine. The Criterion, hrnsounding a somber note from the Darkrn/ges. There would be, he predicted, nornmore organized culture for the foreseeablernfuture. In spite of the Allied x’ictorv,rnby the 1960’s, there was none. Meanwhile,rnthe counterculture resembled culturernas a black hole resembles a solar s’stem.rnAn aged Picasso appeared in Life onrnthe pot. He conceded that he was not arngreat painter: “Raffaello, Velasquez, Vermeer,rnthey were. I am only a public entertainer.”rnStravinsky, his end impending,rnoffered some last advice torncomposers of the future: “Make a million.rnOnly if it comes easy. Otherwise,rnhead underground.”rnIn a previous darkening time, as Romernsuccumbed, as the bishop of Hippornturned his mind to eternal things, the citizensrnof the eit)’ went underground, sequesteringrnwhat remained of eivilits-, literacy,rnthe arts, within an anonymih’ ofrninnovation, the manor monaster}-, consecratedrnto the renewal of tiie world bv fosteringrnthe soul out of the soil. In time,rnGassiodorus and Benedict carried theirrnpoint. They renewed the world.rnI rest my case.rnPeter Laurie is a peripatetic poet andrnliterary scholar.rnM O V I N G ?rnSend change of address and thernmailing label from your latest issue to:rnCHRONICLES Subscription Dept.rnP.O. Box 800, Mount Morris, IL 61054rn46/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn