half-formed thought

I often remember a college professor of mine quoting T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland as an accurate observation of society. Specifically, he quoted the last two lines of this verse:

She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
Hardly aware of her departed lover;
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
‘Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.’
When lovely woman stoops to folly and
Paces about her room again, alone,
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a record on the gramophone.

“Automatic hand” is what gets me. She automatically, instinctively, caters to her appearance and primps, as appearance is of the utmost importance.  Both the physical appearance and the social appearance that all is well, nothing new here can be argued.  “Automatic” also illustrates that it was nothing out of the ordinary, a simply act of love to move on from without any dwelling that might interrupt the task at hand. Play the music and keep going. Every time I read any part of The Wasteland there is something new and that is what I love and why I re-read.

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