6. Diatribe v. Epiphany
Oomaharumooma - Everything has to have a name
Alone, with a tremendous empty longing and dread. The whole room for my thoughts. Nothing but myself and what I think, what I fear. Could think the most fantastic thoughts, could dance, spit, grimace, curse, wail--nobody would ever know, no body would ever hear. The thought of such absolute privacy is enough to drive me mad. It's like a clean birth. Everything cut away. Separate, naked, alone. Bliss and agony simultaneously. Time on your hands. Each second weighing on you like a mountain. You drown in it. Deserts, seas, lakes, oceans. Time beating away like a meat ax. Nothingness. The world. The me and the not-me. Oomaharumooma. Everything has to have a name. Everything has to be learned, tested, experienced. Faites comme chez vous, chéri.
Miller has reached the limits of his endurance, having traced to this point the history of solitary creation from Gothic horror to the "me and the not-me" of Emerson's confrontation with Nature, and intimating that he could go on to include Eastern mysticism and the Adamic task of naming. Rather than be driven mad in an "absolute privacy" where one's greatest creations remain solipsistic--"nobody would ever know, nobody would ever hear"--Miller concentrates on the sounds and associations of trains:
The silence descends in volcanic chutes. Yonder, in the barren hills, rolling onward toward the great metallurgical regions, the locomotives are pulling their merchant products. Over the steel and iron beds they roll, the ground sown with slag and cinders and purple ore. In the baggage car, kelps, fishplate, rolled iron, sleepers, wire rods, plates and sheets, laminated articles, hot rolled hoops, splints and mortar carriages, and Zorés ore. The wheels U-80 millimeters or over. Pass splendid specimens of Anglo-Norman architecture, pass pedestrians and pederasts, open hearth furnaces, basic Bessemer mills, dynamos and transformers, pig iron castings and steel ingots. The public at large, pedestrians and pederasts, goldfish and spun-glass palm trees, donkeys sobbing, all circulating freely through quincuncial alleys. At the Place du Brésil a lavender eye.
Going back in a flash over the women I've known. It's like a chain which I've forged out of my own misery. Each one bound to the other.
Miller's escape from the solitude of artistic creation is along a "train of thought" that follows the train of commerce and industry. His Whitmanesque catalogue embraces a world shattered into fragments. But Miller's Waste Land is not empty and dissipated, it is productive. Products and means of production proliferate without forming a coherent whole. They circulate on an unbounded surface, reaching beyond the horizon "toward the great metallurgical regions" and within the interstices of the city. Importantly, the image of the city is not of a simple grid, but of the maximum circulation that may be achieved within a grid, along the diagonals of "quincuncial alleys." Miller concludes with a refiguration of solitude, loneliness and misery. Even primal human misery cannot be understood in terms of a psychic or metaphysical void, but must be itself acknowledged as the positive product of a temporal train of events, a "chain" of relations and relations denied, "each one bound to the other."
The only "I" is an eye seen, noted for its color and its location among the "public at large." The "lavender eye" is artificial: it is a sited, not a sighted eye. It was with respect to this eye amid the public at large that Miller wrote earlier in the same episode in qualification of his loyalty to Whitman. Whitman alone with his poetic self in Nature holds no interest for Miller. Confined in one place, in the solitude of the room, "I was free, but my limbs were shackled. A democratic soul with a free meal ticket, but no power of locomotion, no voice. I felt like a jellyfish nailed to a plank." Whitman's "democratic soul," his all-seeing visionary self, is, by itself, insufficient and as amorphous as a nailed jellyfish. Miller's allegiance is to Whitman's voice, to Whitman under steam, to the power of locomotion--to the mechanical Whitman that D. H. Lawrence parodied in Studies in Classic American Literature: