Sunday, February 04, 2007


Eliot’s the Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock is about a guy wondering if maybe he should have made a pass at a particular girl when he had the chance.

What if he had made the pass and she had replied, “That is not what I meant at all.” Eliot tries to measure if it would have been worth it anyway.

An emotional spike in the poem comes when the speaker grows frustrated and says:

It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while…

That was in 1919. These days we actually have magic lanterns that actually can throw the nerves in patterns on a (computer) screen.

Whether this technology can answer Prufrock’s question is still kind of doubtful.

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