IB / CHRONICLESnHe may have meant life is a mug’s game. A universalnillusion-disillusion is central to all Eliot’s verse. He faces notnonly modernity’s forced reappraisal of the West’s nowstaggeringnheritage (that man is a perfectible creature ofnreason, say, making “progress” in a coherent moral creationnpresided over by a caring and available Creator) but alsonfaces an interior crisis of consciousness, as well:nThese with a thousand small deliberationsnProtract the profit of their chilled delirium,nExcite the membrane, when the sense has cooled,nWith pungent sauces, multiply varietynIn a wilderness of mirrors.nWhich in Sanskrit would have been called a recognition ofnmdyd (illusion) — that reality itself is finally nothing but anconvincing dream we are willing ourselves to believe in, an”wilderness of mirrors,” in which we are so absorbed that wencannot awake.nParadoxically, dreams are also considered to form thenlanguage of an immortal, higher existence (here Buddhismnand Platonism are virtually agreed), and it is in this sensenthat the word “dream” appears in Eliot’s verse with astonishingnfrequency:nEyes I dare not meet in dreamsnIn death’s dream kingdomnThese do not appear.nSwinging between life and deathnHere, in death’s dream kingdomnThe waking echo of confusing strifenIs it a dream or something elsenWhen the surface of the blackened rivernIs a face that sweats with tears?nWavering between the profit and the lossnIn this brief transit where the dreams crossnThe dream-crossed twilight between birthnand dying . . .nThese are not daydreams, drug hallucinations, or (as thenFreudians would have it) “thinly disguised death-wishes.”nNot only is the use of the term “dream” very technical here,nindicating prophecy and visionary experience analogous tonCavalcanti’s and Dante’s, but the place itself (the same inneach passage) is real. The phrase “death’s dream kingdom,”nwhich clearly appealed to Eliot, indicates a specific psychicnstate between life and death, exactly like the pagan Underworldnof Homer, Vergil, and Dante — though Eliot undoubtedlyn”knew” those poets microscopically, it is the livednexperience that impresses in these passages — and for thisnstunningly vivid place Buddhism has a term: it’s callednhardo, or gap.nAs it happens, there is exactly no possibility that Eliotncribbed a knowledge of the bardo from Sanskrit, since thendoctrine was developed in Tibetan and translated (almostnunreadably and incomprehensively) for the first time afternEliot’s passages were composed. It would have required angreater miracle to derive these haunted and concentratednimages from Evans-Wentz than to have made them up,nthough Eliot’s not inventing here. He’s doing what truenpoets do: writing down what he sees. This is one place younnncan’t describe without having been there. Notice in all thesenpassages the persistence of disembodied eyes:nIn this last of meeting placesnWe grope togethernAnd avoid speechnGathered on this beach of the tumid rivernSightless, unlessnThe eyes reappearnAs the perpetual starnMultifoliate rosenOf death’s twilight kingdomnThe hope onlynOf empty mennThe apparition of these eyes as cause of hope, hope ofndeliverance from this dismally barren plane that is not (as innthe Christian view) after death but between life and death,ncannot be explained by any orthodox manipulation ofnChristology. Only in the canzoni of Guido Cavalcanti, thenavowed heretic, do we come even close. The rose, we maynfeel, has been merely borrowed from Dante’s Paradiso,nwhose Christian Good News has been willfully (demonically)ninverted. Yet that is not adequate to explain thenpsychic desperation evoked here, which turns on the notionn”empty” in an absolute contrivance of dirge about “lostnkingdoms” (hardly the Russian, German, and Austro-nHungarian empires) titled “The Hollow Men.”nThere are some tangible sources, of course, and they areneven mentioned in the “notes” to The Waste Land. Thenefligies “Leaning together / Headpiece filled with straw” arendiscussed in the “Adonis, Attis, Osiris” sections of Frazer’snGolden Bough. They are fashioned to represent thesenvarious grain-cult gods (who are the same god) in thenother-worldly interval between death and rebirth. So theynare not descriptions of modern men at all, though Eliotnundoubtedly intends us to take them so. They are certainlynpuppets, and though it is specifically implied that “we” arennot “lost / Violent souls” (i.e., we’re not even alive enoughnto be damned), it is the notion of the soul at all that matters.nIn the conception of nous made explicit in Plato andnadopted by the great medieval Fathers as a perfectnpredescription of Christ’s teaching, there are three minds —nmundane mind, soul, and spirit — operating on three distinctnplanes of being: the material, the dream, and the lightnof divine mind itself We deal here with soul, whose modalitynis dream. In the East what we have always called soul hasnbeen traditionally known as the body of dream, capable ofnseparation from the physical body and of direct knowledgeneven before death, on that plane called bardo.nIt is to this bardo-plane that Eliot’s imagery has broughtnus, not for reasons of intellectual exhibitionism but becausenhe has simply been there himself The dream-body and thenfaculty of dreaming have both structure and purpose (aboutnwhich Freud, the Romantics, and today’s druggies have allnequally been wrong), by having made contact with dream,npeople with no physical approximation at all in disparatenages of man have been able to come to remarkably likenconclusions about the otherwise hidden aspects of being innthe cosmos. So, in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the visionnof disembodied eyes — Eliot’s hope — does occur. The eyesn