Newsletter #50 — The Waste Land
January 1, 2023
Newsletter #50 — The Waste Land
The PH Words —A friend who's a fellow baseball fan, researcher, and writer sent me this new "book cover" he created for what he suggests I should write next.
AI Writing Machines — The latest Authors Guild Bulletin featured two articles on Artificial Intelligence writing software. Publishers and marketers are investing in such software with the purpose of getting AI to write both marketing materials and/or complete works of genre fiction.
The Bulletin listed several of the AI sites, and so I went to one which allowed seven days free. I chose to have AI write a blog. I thought I'd compare this blog with one I've written, and I had visions of sharing the AI blog on social media. Just to get a laugh, you know.
But what I encountered was this: in order for the AI software to write my blog (which I wanted on a very specific topic), I had to give it list after list, item after item of information. After about ten minutes, I gave up — because I could write an entire blog in 20% of the time it would have taken me to provide hundreds or thousands of bits of information to AI. The knowledge and information are in my mind: it was way too tedious to try to input this into the AI mind.
So I never did get to see what kind of blog AI would write.
Maybe five years from now?
The Waste Land — Phil and I love going to the American Writers Museum on Michigan Avenue to see the various exhibits. The most recent one we saw was Dark Testament, a wonderful presentation of Black American writers from about 1840 to the present.
We also enjoy attending many of the AWM's programs via Zoom, and a couple of weeks ago we saw a program entitled What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern, by Jed Rasula.. The year 2023 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Waste Land, which is looked upon as a poem that changed poetry. I believe that is true: The Waste Land ushered poetry into its modern era, permitting stream of consciousness, what appears to be disjunction, lack of classical forms, and lack of rhyme schemes. Here's a link to The Waste Land on the Poetry Foundation site.
Back in the 1960s when I was a college student and first read The Waste Land, I absolutely had a Whoa! moment. Like: What is this? Who's talking to me? Why isn't he/she trying to be coherent?
This was not necessarily off-putting. In fact, I was intrigued. (Though not necessarily enlightened.) And one of the things that intrigued me most was Eliot's allusions. In the very first phrase of the very first line, "April is the cruelest month," Eliot seems to be alluding to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, which begins:
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
That translates to:
When April with its sweet-smelling showers
Has pierced the drought of March to the root
I was struck by the difference in world-view between pre-Renaissance Chaucer and modernist Eliot. To Chaucer April is sweet-smelling; to Eliot it is the cruelest month.
The Waste Land has had more written about it than I could read in a lifetime — but I think I will read the Rasula book.
New Review of The F Words — Here's a new review on GoodReads.
Writing Life: 9 — Early readers and Boxcar Children, here.
Happy New Year — Wishing all readers of this newsletter a Happy, Healthy 2023!