Eliot’s Notion of Tradition and Its Significance in the Age of Multimedia


Our world today is being remade through the continuous spread of multimedia. We are actually living in what is called ‘New Times’. Multimedia has changed our life enormously. Despite the fact that some technological advances have caused some negative developments in our modern times: some people are being distracted, overly stressed, feeling qualitatively empty, alienated, increasingly isolated, divided, hopeless and seriously frustrated, Yet, many of them are involved in an abundant number of relationships through the use of technology. Multimedia has played a very important role in overcoming this sense of isolation, hopelessness, despair and frustration which is very characteristic of our age. It has tremendously created a very effective means of communications between individuals, societies and other cultures. The greatest features of online communities and virtual worlds are obvious instances. Someone might feel like an outcast in his/her own community or family but might find someone online with similar hobbies, pursuits, and interests. Someone else who enjoys photography, sports, etc. as another example, would be able to share that passion with people all over the world by using the Internet and its powerful tools (e-mail, video chat, discussion boards, online video, family Web sites). With the proliferation of technologies that are able to overcome the obstacles of time and space (e.g., airplanes, cars, the Internet), one would think that these tools would be used to gain an understanding of other cultures, meet people all over the world, maintain and strengthen familial relationships, communicate effectively with others, and help people to become more socially adept. Hence, in such an advanced, technological atmosphere, Eliot started giving special emphasis, attention, and consideration to the significance of the collective experience of past generations. It is in this regard that Eliot’s concept of tradition can be quite influential in the efforts of remaking the tradition in this age of multimedia. Eliot believes that the concern with the present and future requires a concern with the past. The Modern Age, he thinks, has lost contact with the past; therefore, he pleads that the modern poets should bridge the gap between an ordered past and a chaotic present and exhausted civilization-- the employment and the fruitful use of various, advanced means of multimedia will certainly help them in their serious endeavors . This sense of the essential need of effective communication with the past is clearly evoked throughout many of his literary writings. Many of his critical pronouncements and analyses are explored in numerous essays, several of which have become classics of the genre: "Tradition and the Individual Talent" (1919), "Hamlet" (1919), "The Metaphysical Poets" (1921), "The Function of Criticism" (1923), "Dante" (1929), "Milton I" (1936), "What Is a Classic?" (1945), "To Criticize the Critic" (1961), and many more. Beyond literary criticism, there are also Eliot's essays on sociological, educational, and theological subjects: "Thoughts After Lambeth" (1931), "Modern Education and the Classics" (1932), The Idea of a Christian Society (1939) and Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1948) are examples. In brief, this paper attempts to show how Eliot’s deep appreciation of the poetry of past generations ; particularly the metaphysical poets of the 17TH century, for instance, reflects his own deep interest and desire to revive that lost tradition—to synthesize the present with the past in order to achieve order in a chaotic present. Despite the gap of more than two centuries that separated his age and that of Donne and his followers, this paper also demonstrates that Eliot perceived in metaphysical poetry something that was of unique and permanent value. Consequently, Eliot has made a tremendous contribution in reviving and further extending the tradition of the seventeenth century metaphysical poetry. This revival of tradition has undoubtedly become very distinctive and extremely invaluable in the age of multimedia.

Author Information
Aburawi Abuajaila Elmajdoub, University of Tripoli, Libya

Paper Information
Conference: NACMFCS2014
Stream: Media and Mass Communication - Critical and Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the NACMFCS2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon