Back in the day–when the formation of one’s character is still upon a pyre of possibilities–if you’d said I’d one day be published in a scholarly journal, I would have firstly asked what exactly “scholarly,” meant, and then knowing what it stood for, I would have laughed. Rather heartedly. I might have even peed my pants.
Well, it’s happened. My paper, “Raids on the Inarticulate: T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and God,” is in the Fall-Winter 2015, Volume 31, Number 3-4 Yeats Eliot Review edited by the esteemed Russell Elliott Murphy, PhD.
American writer, Richard Rodriquez calls the essay a “biography of an idea.” My paper in the review is such a beast. I first came to the idea of Eliot, a 20th century poet, using a fifth century writing trick of an oddly named scribe, Dionysius the Areopagite, in a rather circuitous way. In the last semesters of my doctoral program I took a course in religious studies with the frighteningly brilliant Rabia Gregory, PhD, a fairly newly-minted professor at my school. The course on 14th century Rhinish mystics discussed theologoians like Meister Eckhart and Henry Suso. As a graduate student, I not only had to fulfill the class required assignments and papers, but also tackle a larger research project. Somewhere in the wilds of discussing the expression of mystical experiences the work of Dionysius the Areopagite came up–and I was hooked.
Basically, the way to describe God was to not even try. Bottomline. Or, if you must, do so in a rather tricky way saying God is neither this nor that. I’m condensing you understand.
So, I wrote the research paper and while the semester was winding down I heard of a conference on the numinous, sent in my paper as possible presentation–and much to my surprise it was accepted. I ended up giving the presentation at the University of Brisbane, Australia on the tricky Dionysius way of describing God.
At the same time I was finishing up a course on the moderns, in particular early 20th century poets, such as Eliot. Reading Eliot’s work I came to see that he used the same tricky way to talk about God in his famous poem cycle Four Quartets. I wrote a paper on it for class.
Then, I took that paper and I sent it in as a possible presentation to the University of Louisville Conference of Literature and Culture–and much to my surprise it was accepted. I traveled to Louisville and read my paper in front of, oh, four people.
Then, I took this presentation paper and submitted it to the Yeats Eliot Review and well pee my pants it was accepted.
But that’s it. I think I’ve exhausted this topic–this very specific topic–the only thing now would be write a book. And no, I’m not going to write a book about it.
This raid is run.