Lest the president feel bad about my criticisms of his gay marriage stance, I hasten to add that I think he’s gotten too much flak for his youthful musing on T.S. Eliot. The young future president wrote to his then-girlfriend:
I haven’t read “The Waste Land” for a year… But I will hazard these statements—Eliot contains the same ecstatic vision which runs from Münzer to Yeats. However, he retains a grounding in the social reality/order of his time. Facing what he perceives as a choice between ecstatic chaos and lifeless mechanistic order, he accedes to maintaining a separation of asexual purity and brutal sexual reality. And he wears a stoical face before this. Read his essay on Tradition and the Individual Talent, as well as Four Quartets, when he’s less concerned with depicting moribund Europe, to catch a sense of what I speak. Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—Eliot is of this type.
Overwritten, yes, but not all bad. Carl Scott, take it away:
A number of conservative commentators have used that quote in ways that make me squirm. They apparently hold an expectation that all real conservatives will regard it as ridiculous. NRO has a slide show that juxtaposes it against goofy young Obama toker photos. At Ricochet, Diane Ellis gives us this headline: Young Obama May Have Been Even More Pretentious than Current Obama. Thankfully, many of the commenters there are much more charitable, sounding the obvious “didn’t a lot of us write embarrassing stuff in our college years” line. . . . I feel egg-head-ish solidarity, and resistance to the charge of pretentiousness.
More over at PoMoCon.