The Digital Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

So in reading this poem by T.S. Elliot, I found it very difficult to expand my mind to think about the reading, being in paper format, in a digital sense. In rereading it many times, I kept coming back to Dr. Peters’ writing in Digital. I kept mulling over his thesis, in which he describes digital as our index finger, and that the three properties that digital brings forth are that it counts, points, and manipulates. In thinking about this deeply, I have found, in my mind, that there are essences of each within The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, as well as how my mind perceives it.

To start off, Dr. Peters states that digits count, which this was the most difficult for my mind to apply to the piece of literature. However, I found that in a sense, we have trained our minds to count the lines in each stanza, due to the rhythm in which we teach ourselves to keep within the piece. This doesn’t mean we count each line of every stanza, but once we find the rhythmic pattern of the piece in which the author intends to rhyme, we start to read it as such, sort of like a case of going 1,1 2,2 1,1 2,2. It is actually quite difficult to describe, yet it seems almost instinctive.

Dr. Peters’ next point in his thesis, is exactly that, digits point! I figured this one out rather quickly with our Supplemental Information page, as well as prior knowledge about a few of the things Elliot mentions in his piece. Elliot is quite gifted in the art of allusion within each of his pieces, and this is where I believe the pointing comes into effect. Not only in the beginning of the piece where he quotes the Inferno, by Dante, but also in many other cases such as his applications of Hamlet, as well as Lazaraus, which take us to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and also the Bible, respectively. In a sense, this alliteration “points” our minds to other pieces of literature and work, to apply more meaning to what he is trying to say.

Lastly, in his thesis, Dr Peters says that digits manipulate. The manipulation is exactly what Elliot tries to do within his piece of literature. I mean the title thoroughly gives that away, given that it is a love song about a man. This manipulation is not meant to take place in our mind, however, it takes form there and then shifts elsewhere. Our minds formulate the emotion that Elliot wants, because he wants us to feel a certain way when we read about a man searching for love, and having to overcome all of his fears and insecurities. In my mind, I started to apply this to many things that not only I (may or may not) have experienced, but many others that I know certainly have. His poetry manipulates our emotions, or as our current generation would say, “hits us right in the feels.”

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One thought on “The Digital Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

  1. I never thought of the structure of the poem as an aspect that makes it digital. I completely agree that just as a digital signal has a pattern of numbers so does a poem. The line count and stanza structure was set up by Elliot specifically to make you read the article in a certain way. No, this isn’t digital as in a electronic screen but I do think that it could fall under Dr. Peters description of the digital. I think your last point is another good example of this. The title definitely made me develop a thought on the story before I even read the first line. I think the way Elliot can make us react a certain way is similar to how a digital media source can twist our perception of a topic with titles and styles of writing.

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