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The Rock

In 1934, T. S. Eliot, arguably the most prominent modernist poet, produced a play – The Rock – characterized by great allegorical, historical, and metaphysical complexity and eclecticism. Some of his most graceful religious poems derived from that text. Matter of fact, the project was part of a fund-raising contest for the collection of money for the construction of forty-five new churches. The interwar years were marked by considerable disillusionment of Christian morality and religious belief in general. The Diocese in London was worried that there is a decrease in worshiping communities in the suburbs and decided to issue an appeal for public funding. T. S. Eliot participated with his play and thus helped for the collection of at least 1,500 pounds, which would be around 107,308.0 pounds in today's currencies.

Later, the Choruses from the Rock were published as part of T. S. Eliot Collected Poems, 1909 – 1962.


The age of (mis)information

Although the verses were written around 90 years ago, they are concerned with the very same problems as we have to deal with today. The crisis of knowledge, the disintegration of values, the de-humanization of Global society. We live in the epoch of massive, worldwide (mis)information and disenchantment. Technology and scientific explanation are progressively intruding areas as mind, spirit, morals, or beliefs, which can't be subjected to positivistic observations. We are overflowed with statistics, facts, and partial information, which is leading us to the illusory conviction that our knowledge is dramatically expanding. Be that as it may, there is a firm distinction between knowledge and information. Knowledge is more or less deepening the understanding of a given subject, feeling, or thought. It's the ability to fathom the complexity of a subject with all its aspects and interactions with the world, and even to be able to live as better and happily as one could (and we are not even discussing the word wisdom). Information, on the other hand, is mainly connected with the faculty of memory. We daily collect millions of pieces of information, we are drowned in the informational flood created by social platforms, the internet, and the good old forms that we are all familiar with. To know facts, without the ability to distinguish, which is fake and which not, to build your conviction upon information that you just read on the internet, which is often out of context, disintegrated, incoherent, well that's not knowledge. That's a way to prepare yourself for a quiz.

Despite the fact that we live in the most well-informed epoch in the written history, which is generally a great advantage, we are most probably contemporaneously living in the most ignorant era. Paradoxically, not for the reason that we aren't educated or informed enough but because of too much information. Today, the illusion of information created a new type of person – the omniscience type – the one that has the self-confidence of a specialist in all matters. A dangerous kind of ignorance, the consequences of which are yet to be explored.

Surprisingly, that situation was grasped by the prophetic verses of T. S. Eliot somewhere about 1935 and what is even more interesting is the fact that even though the bad consequences of the era of hyper-information are known facts, we're globally struggling in the same state of misunderstanding. The future will disclose how we will learn to discern the effects of scientific progress and spiritual evolution, the notions of information and knowledge.

Below you can muse over and enjoy an excerpt from Eliot's Choruses from "The Rock":


The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?