Reach exceeds one's grasp?

TS Eliot marker

Today I found a quote that I saved a while back, and figured it was time to finally jot it down here. It’s from T.S. Eliot, and he says “In ‘The Waste Land’ I wasn’t even bothering whether I understood what I was saying.” As an intro to the line, a reviewer notes, “Some of his earlier writing was obscure, he admits, and suggest that young poets can be difficult to make out just because they want to express more than they know how.”

I don’t know Eliot real well, but I think the same idea applies to all writers. As the best example, I suspect Thomas Pynchon would say something similar about ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’; a book which seems to suggest levels of deep understanding, assisted by a very metaphorical approach. Quotes have circulated that indicate that Pynchon could not always remember precisely what he was getting at as he re-read passages. In his latest opus, ‘Against the Day’, my sense is that Pynchon is much more aware of his own lack of full understanding, while acknowledging that he’s still fascinated by certain threads and strands that suggest deeper awareness is possible.

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