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Eeldrop and Appleplex-by T.S.Eliot-Novel and Ebooks

Novel Name: Eeldrop and Appleplex

Written by: T.S.Eliot

Category:Short Stories, Fiction, Short Novel

Page 1:

I

Eeldrop and Appleplex rented two small rooms in a disreputable part of
town. Here they sometimes came at nightfall, here they sometimes
slept, and after they had slept, they cooked oatmeal and departed in
the morning for destinations unknown to each other. They sometimes
slept, more often they talked, or looked out of the window.

They had chosen the rooms and the neighborhood with great care. There
are evil neighborhoods of noise and evil neighborhoods of silence, and
Eeldrop and Appleplex preferred the latter, as being the more evil. It
was a shady street, its windows were heavily curtained; and over it
hung the cloud of a respectability which has something to conceal. Yet
it had the advantage of more riotous neighborhoods near by, and Eeldrop
and Appleplex commanded from their windows the entrance of a police
station across the way. This alone possessed an irresistible appeal in
their eyes. From time to time the silence of the street was broken;
whenever a malefactor was apprehended, a wave of excitement curled into
the street and broke upon the doors of the police station. Then the
inhabitants of the street would linger in dressing-gowns, upon their
doorsteps: then alien visitors would linger in the street, in caps;
long after the centre of misery had been engulphed in his cell. Then
Eeldrop and Appleplex would break off their discourse, and rush out to
mingle with the mob. Each pursued his own line of enquiry. Appleplex,
who had the gift of an extraordinary address with the lower classes of
both sexes, questioned the onlookers, and usually extracted full and
inconsistent histories: Eeldrop preserved a more passive demeanor,
listened to the conversation of the people among themselves, registered
in his mind their oaths, their redundance of phrase, their various
manners of spitting, and the cries of the victim from the hall of
justice within. When the crowd dispersed, Eeldrop and Appleplex
returned to their rooms: Appleplex entered the results of his
inquiries into large notebooks, filed according to the nature of the
case, from A (adultery) to Y (yeggmen). Eeldrop smoked reflectively.
It may be added that Eeldrop was a sceptic, with a taste for mysticism,
and Appleplex a materialist with a leaning toward scepticism; that
Eeldrop was learned in theology, and that Appleplex studied the
physical and biological sciences.

There was a common motive which led Eeldrop and Appleplex thus to
separate themselves from time to time, from the fields of their daily
employments and their ordinarily social activities. Both were
endeavoring to escape not the commonplace, respectable or even the
domestic, but the too well pigeonholed, too taken-for-granted, too
highly systematized areas, and,–in the language of those whom they
sought to avoid–they wished “to apprehend the human soul in its
concrete individuality.”

“Why,” said Eeldrop, “was that fat Spaniard, who sat at the table with
us this evening, and listened to our conversation with occasional
curiosity, why was he himself for a moment an object of interest to
us? He wore his napkin tucked into his chin, he made unpleasant noises
while eating, and while not eating, his way of crumbling bread between
fat fingers made me extremely nervous: he wore a waistcoat cafe au
lait, and black boots with brown tops. He was oppressively gross and
vulgar; he belonged to a type, he could easily be classified in any
town of provincial Spain. Yet under the circumstances–when we had
been discussing marriage, and he suddenly leaned forward and exclaimed:
‘I was married once myself’–we were able to detach him from his
classification and regard him for a moment as an unique being, a soul,
however insignificant, with a history of its own, once for all. It is
these moments which we prize, and which alone are revealing. For any
vital truth is incapable of being applied to another case: the
essential is unique. Perhaps that is why it is so neglected: because
it is useless. What we learned about that Spaniard is incapable of
being applied to any other Spaniard, or even recalled in words. With
the decline of orthodox theology and its admirable theory of the soul,
the unique importance of events has vanished. A man is only important
as he is classed. Hence there is no tragedy, or no appreciation of
tragedy, which is the same thing. We had been talking of young
Bistwick, who three months ago married his mother’s housemaid and now
is aware of the fact. Who appreciates the truth of the matter? Not
the relatives, for they are only moved by affection, by regard for
Bistwick’s interests, and chiefly by their collective feeling of family
disgrace. Not the generous minded and thoughtful outsider, who regards
it merely as evidence for the necessity of divorce law reform.
Bistwick is classed among the unhappily married. But what Bistwick
feels when he wakes up in the morning, which is the great important
fact, no detached outsider conceives. The awful importance of the ruin
of a life is overlooked. Men are only allowed to be happy or miserable
in classes. In Gopsum Street a man murders his mistress. The
important fact is that for the man the act is eternal, and that for the
brief space he has to live, he is already dead. He is already in a
different world from ours. He has crossed the frontier. The important
fact is that something is done which can not be undone–a possibility
which none of us realize until we face it ourselves. For the man’s
neighbors the important fact is what the man killed her with? And at
precisely what time? And who found the body? For the ‘enlightened
public’ the case is merely evidence for the Drink question, or
Unemployment, or some other category of things to be reformed. But the
mediaeval world, insisting on the eternity of punishment, expressed
something nearer the truth.”

“What you say,” replied Appleplex, “commands my measured adherence. I
should think, in the case of the Spaniard, and in the many other
interesting cases which have come under our attention at the door of
the police station, what we grasp in that moment of pure observation on
which we pride ourselves, is not alien to the principle of
classification, but deeper. We could, if we liked, make excellent
comment upon the nature of provincial Spaniards, or of destitution (as
misery is called by the philanthropists), or on homes for working
girls. But such is not our intention. We aim at experience in the
particular centres in which alone it is evil. We avoid
classification. We do not deny it. But when a man is classified
something is lost. The majority of mankind live on paper currency:
they use terms which are merely good for so much reality, they never
see actual coinage.”

“I should go even further than that,” said Eeldrop. “The majority not
only have no language to express anything save generalized man; they
are for the most part unaware of themselves as anything but generalized
men. They are first of all government officials, or pillars of the
church, or trade unionists, or poets, or unemployed; this cataloguing
is not only satisfactory to other people for practical purposes, it is
sufficient to themselves for their ‘life of the spirit.’ Many are not
quite real at any moment. When Wolstrip married, I am sure he said to
himself: ‘Now I am consummating the union of two of the best families
in Philadelphia.'”

“The question is,” said Appleplex, “what is to be our philosophy. This
must be settled at once. Mrs. Howexden recommends me to read Bergson.
He writes very entertainingly on the structure of the eye of the frog.”

“Not at all,” interrupted his friend. “Our philosophy is quite
irrelevant. The essential is, that our philosophy should spring from
our point of view and not return upon itself to explain our point of
view. A philosophy about intuition is somewhat less likely to be
intuitive than any other. We must avoid having a platform.”

“But at least,” said Appleplex, “we are. . .”

Filed in: Fiction, Short Novel, Short Stories

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