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privileged. In his thesis, Eliot argues that “we are constantly developing and rectifying our perceptions by comparison with other perceptions; we are constantly on the lookout for error, and our recognition and allowances for error already nominate us as epistemologists; for this means that we have a tentative working theory of our relation to the external world... theory and practice are, we find, inextricable”.123Within the context of phenomenology, perception cannot be abstracted from lived experience: “Color ... is a moment which cannot be presented apart from extension”.124One does not “understand” experience better when the subject is removed from the equation. Eliot, likewise, is suspicious of “understanding” as a resting place. In a 1930 letter to Geoffrey Curtis, for instance, he writes: “Why should people treat verse as if it were a conundrum with an answer? When you find the answer to a conundrum it is no longer interesting. 109121Husserl, E. (2001). Logical Investigations: Volume Two. Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge, page 99,122ibid, p. 99 123Eliot, T. S. (1964). Eliot, T. S. KAE,p. 155124Sokolowski, R. (1974). Husserlian Meditations: How Words Present Things United States, Northwestern University Press,p. 9
‘Understanding’ poetry seems to me largely to consist of coming to see that it is not necessary to ‘understand’.”125Poetry alludes to and enhances feeling, not formulae.126The process is what matters, not the “translation” of this process into a conceptual language. Eliot describes the pre-articulate intermingling of the inhabited world of feeling with truth claims: The world is not simply there, for metaphysics to play upon; it is itself metaphysical, and meditating upon its own nature, spins itself out of its own belly. It swarms with inchoate theories which ultimately perhaps mean the same thing - at the point where all meanings are lost. The vast majority of these theories never reach articulate expression, but are reabsorbed into practice. Considering this process from the point of view of language we may say that words, rising to the surface in the form of bubbles, distend to a greater or less size and subside. It is only at moments and within limited spheres determined by particular purposes that we attempt to think clearly and consistently, to harmonise our meanings and pursue them to the precipice of intelligibility.127The “point where all meanings are lost” foreshadows the “still point” of the Four Quartets -- it is an internal darkness -- the self unknowable to itself -- which “spins out” the world. Here, intelligibility is a “precipice”. It is precisely because there is so much left to be expressed that the poet’s work is necessary. Propositions tell only half of the story of human truth. Eliot shares the phenomenologist’s interest in truth as a process of becoming-actual. Hermeneutics (the study of interpretation) is central to Eliot’s approach: Now to say that judgment is the predication of an ideal content of reality is not properly speaking a definition but an interpretation. Definition must be into inferiora, interpretation into superiora. Not in contrast with such an interpretation a true definition would be possible or desirable. Modern