Where Is The Knowledge We Have Lost In Information?

I just finished Peter Ackroyd's T. S. Eliot: A Life. I enjoyed it very much, and of course, knowing the poet makes one better able to understand and appreciate the poet's stuff. I'm glad to have read the book, and am glad particularly to know more of his two marriages and his conversion to Anglicanism. Eliot converted from the Unitarian heresy, which Ackroyd brilliantly pulls apart; he calls it "Puritanism without theology." Annoyingly, throughout the book Ackroyd conflates Unitarianism and Calvinism (speaking continually of Eliot's "Calvinist upbringing").

I appreciate some of Eliot's earlier stuff a bit more, but my favorite piece of Eliot's, The Rock, is not improved for me. It, like Eliot, is tethered both to its age and to all of the Church Age, a stranger in a strange land: and it is a strange piece, very formal and greek...impersonal but sure to draw the connection between the History and Persons. Knowing more about Eliot's person makes stuff like The Wasteland better for me, but only as a stepping stone to The Rock, and the greatness of The Rock is that it is so much bigger than Eliot. Eliot's early stuff seems big (and is big) because so much personal stuff is obscure, but The Rock (and even Four Quarterts) is just huge. I think that's one of reasons a lot of people don't like it. First of all, of course, many readers dislike how Christian it is (Eliot's conversion bothered, even if it didn't surprise, many of his contemporaries). But the sheer impersonality of what is supposed to be (to the modern) not an art of type but an art of personal revelation just bugs the heck out of people; even Christians think that way.

I definitely dug on Ackroyd's book, and appreciate Eliot's entire ouevre more now, but my appreciation for my favorite bits of Eliot remains unchanged and high: those works of a universal and catholic nature, like The Rock and Old Possum's Book of Cats.