I remember being fascinated with and challenged by The Waste Land in high school, though it wasn’t until I read some of Eliot’s essays in college that it all sunk in. The same man who could write such clear, sensible prose when he wanted to explain could also construct densely packed, layered, gnostic verse. What he wrote in 1921 about the difficulty of communicating outside our silos of expertise is even more relevant today.
When there is so much to be known, when there are so many fields of knowledge in which the same words are used with different meanings, when every one knows a little about a great many things, it becomes increasingly difficult for anyone to know whether he knows what he is talking about or not. And when we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend always to substitute emotions for thoughts. –T.S. Eliot, “The Perfect Critic” (1921)