Touch Press has just released an iPad app for T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land . . . and it’s about time. Collage and montage, those signature modernist sensibilities so evident in The Waste Land, have experienced an overwhelming renaissance in our digital age, where virtually anyone can copy, paste, remix and re-cut our cultural and historical heritage. It is only fitting that 21st century readers grapple with The Waste Land in an interactive, multimedia format.
As a founding member of Mrs. Porter’s Literary & Arts Salon, I’ve delivered more than twenty presentations on The Waste Land, and I have taken great pleasure in matching up the cut and paste aesthetic of the poem with my multimedia presentations. Mrs. Porter is actually a character from the poem and, over the years, I’ve come to focus on a sonnet length section in which she appears (lines 193 – 206 in “The Fire Sermon”). Most recently, I have been using classic Oulipian constraint-based methods to further ventilate those 14 hardworking lines, partly to see whether my analysis holds sway even as the poem evolves into other versions of itself. I’m kind of surprised to discover that it has.
You can read two of my “re-writings” of this passage from “The Fire Sermon” on the Les Figues Press blog: