A Heap of Broken Images
A Whiteheadian Appreciation of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land
The acme of literary modernism, T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, was published in 1922, a hundred years ago. Its presentation of the "modern" world as a heap of broken images is as true today as it was then: civilization falling apart at its seams with war, the threat of nuclear war, environmental collapse, the rise of ethnic nationalisms, the breakdown of community, the rise of religious fundamentalisms. the emptiness of stale secularism, and obscene gaps between the wealthy and the rest of us. Eliot wrote in the aftermath of WWI. His is not an optimistic poem; he repudiated aspects of it in his later life. But it is an honest and beautiful poem. We need such honesty today if there is to be any kind of promising tomorrow. This page is a collage of sayings, from Eliot and Whitehead, the BBC and The Poetry Foundation, which, taken together, can be springboards for thoughtful reflection on where the world is, and where it's going, with the underling hope that, if we are honest, we might grow in some small way toward a better world: an Ecological Civilization. That better world is depicted at the bottom of this page.