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T.S. Eliot and rock music

September 22, 2010

I stumbled across The .doc file of J. Alfred Prufrock, an excellent parody of Eliot for the digital age.

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the icons that you meet;
There will be time to murder and respawn
And time for all the Chrome and Firefox
That drag and drop a website on your plate;
Time for .doc and time for .ppt
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred fanfics and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the players come and go
Talking of their scores on Halo.

Yeah. I love it.

Every time I read Eliot I feel like I’m missing a secret decoder ring. Maybe I have less of a store of literature floating through my brain than his contemporaries. (I’m still in awe of my great aunt, who even at 90 and beyond could quote reams of poetry, even though her sense of present realities had come a bit unmoored.) Again, the Internet comes to my rescue.

The Waste Land as hypertext, with references explained.

I read The Waste Land on a Sunday morning, sitting on Lisa and Tim’s couch. I think drinking too much coffee helped, actually. Although I keenly missed a secret decoder ring, I enjoyed the rhythms of the language. Whatever I only understood at a surface level, at least sounded interesting.

At the time, I was in a phase of listening to music while reading poetry on the subway. The multimedia experience of Howl + Eminem worked particularly well.

Maybe that’s what gave me the idea that The Waste Land ought to be a rock opera. Sorry, Andrew Lloyd Weber, I’d prefer you sit this one out, in favor of something¬† more darkly electronic. Just to capture the way reading it was spooky and dystopian, completely out of step with a sunny Sunday.

Digging through my music collection for something with enough menacing reverb and crunch, I came up with I’m Afraid of Americans, a David Bowie/Trent Reznor collaboration. Here’s the song, but I’m pretty sure the lyrics are NSFW.

And with that, I think I may have used T.S. Eliot to shock my father twice on one day. I win.

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