Indecision: Prufrock and other harem leads

These past few days, I have been reading some T.S. Eliot. One may have known him from his masterwork The Waste Land, or perhaps a poem of his discussed even in basic literature classes, vivisected as well as praised by many literary critics which is The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I have read and reviewed the poem for five times at the very least: what I was reminded of when I read the poem recently was the paralysis or the indecision that pervades and characterizes most generic harem leads as well as leads of most romance series in anime, harem or not.

Here’s one of them.

I do not feign total understanding of the poem, and these reflections upon it are not based on any literary critique but simply personal reflection. As such, it may be flawed and mistaken when juxtaposed with true literary critiques.

S’io credessi che mia risposta fosse
a persona che mai tornasse al mundo,
questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma per cio che giammai di questo fondo
non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Eliot begins with an epigraph taken from Dante’s Inferno. Searching the Internet, I obtained a very disquieting and beautiful translation:

If I thought my answer were to one who could ever return to the world,
this flame would move no more;
but since no one has ever returned alive from this depth,
if what I hear be true,
without fear of infamy I answer you.

Eliot was known to be quite an autobiographical writer. I believe the epigraph acts as his voice (albeit hidden beneath the words of the poem) with regard to his life of love. (He was also frustrated in his marriage.)

I cannot post the entire poem, but I assume and I hope that from the excerpts of it that I do one can glean some meaning. It can be noted that most of the time, the harems of harem leads are women who are close friends of his. Despite this, however, he has difficulty trusting any one of them when it comes to love; he also has a difficulty deciding among any one of them, and Eliot reminds us of this inaction, dreadful as this may be:

Like a patient etherised upon a table;

The very sense of anaesthesia, of being unable to move, describes the indecision of Mr. Prufrock as well as the majority of the harem leads out there. The line is antiseptic; it is clinical: with the use of a medical term one is made to recognize the indifference that pervades a doctor’s operation of a disease. Prufrock himself knows of his condition and yet is indifferent to it: it has been with him for quite a time.

Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains;

This is a very wonderful example of a metaphor that describes Prufrock’s and the leads’ indecision. There is no motion whatsoever, no action within a puddle of water.

And indeed there will be time

Here’s the worst one among them

The quintessential Makoto (of School Days) reason: there will be time. So I have hurt Kotonoha? There will be time. So I have slept with Sekai? There will be time. So I have got her pregnant? There will be time

yet for a hundred indecisions

… infinite time, infinite sleep, infinite death …

Do I dare?
Disturb the universe?

Why do I have to be surrounded by one girl if I can by five, all of which love me? Do I dare?

I guess I give up. I cannot discuss or properly praise the poem if I only post some lines. The whole poem must be read so that one can fully appreciate its majesty. I admire Eliot, though. 80 or so years before the harems exploded all over the fandom of anime he was already able to predict the archetype of the harem lead … and grounded it in humanity.

P.S. I have been trying to raise my grades this semester, seeing that I have wasted more than one in an act of puerile rebellion. (Personally, I do not think what I did was puerile, but simply something necessary to let my parents know I was discontented.) Anyway, I have disappeared primarily because there were exams, and I had some sort of flu.

3 Responses to “Indecision: Prufrock and other harem leads”

  1. IKnight Says:

    Now this is my kind of blogging!


    Prufrock does indeed come across as an archetypal harem hero, though indecision is not an attribute only found in harem heroes – hence the stanza about Hamlet. I’d go easy on the autobiographical touch though (a theoretical position – dead author – which I espouse).

    Have you read the Four Quartets? They’re my favourite part of the Eliot corpus.

  2. Ryan A Says:

    some sort of flu eh? jeeze, thats scary, I hope you feel better.

    so, wow… the final lines of that poem are challenging to conceive, but the larger portion is identifiable in some ways.

    Sometimes, just now, I question whether these harem leads are just extreme type-B people (versus type-A). Personally, a very close relative of mine is an exact reference to the poem’s reason; he is that very embodiment of ‘always time’ (others call it laziness). Of course, understanding that generalization isn’t fit for most considerations, type-A and B do not work in reality, instead we are all mixed with different levels of justification and indecision.

    The light, in thinking about what you’ve stated here, has shone in a way that I have felt but never consulted:

    Some people are better fit to live other’s lives, though it isn’t kind to demand the acceptance of such improvisation among those involved with an individual (those the haremettes).

    The fact that this poem sits at an extreme depth in the web of social humanity is boggling. There is no pure clarity in any one direction. Some will take action, while others refrain, but be it another case, another situation, the tides can easily be changed. Ultimately, we are both decisive and indecisive simultaneously, only when we look at a specific aspect, is one able to ascertain where they fall at that given point in time.

    Relating this to my study of the physical world, the very nature of the universe is this way. Schrödinger’s cat is both dead and alive. An electron is everywhere an nowhere until we specifically look at a point in time and determine the position. I am both type-A and B for all moments of my life. Yet in a specific moment, I will be one or the other.

    How unstable a creature we may seem, but statistically, our tendencies, or absentness of.., reveal our personalities, habits, types, and our deeper nature.

    I need to read more Eliot. Thanks Michael. Feel better, do good work!

  3. Michael Says:


    First, thanks for linking me to your blog. I will do so later on to yours.

    I am sorry, I have not got my hands on that book of his. Sadly, the reason why I was able to revisit Prufrock was because I was able to purchase a compendium of his greatest works (a thin volume), and Four Quartets was not there … :c


    Thanks for the concern. 🙂

    Of course most of us are seated as in between in real life; after all, these harem leads are merely representations and caricatures of real life people.

    ‘Some people are better fit to live other’s lives, though it isn’t kind to demand the acceptance of such improvisation among those involved with an individual (those the haremettes).’

    I would have to agree with this. I mean, I would be better off writing spiels on literature rather than study microbes or vivisect mice, but I guess *this* blog would have to do. :p Events and people, as well as finances always limit us from what we desire to do. Rousseau said that man is born free; everything around him, however, is in chains. 🙂

    We have our tendencies, and indeed, they reflect our person. Despite this, however, we do sometimes some things which we cannot associate with ourselves – and this is what makes us both unique and unexpected. We cannot be dichotomized into merely two things, because we are so much more: this is the crux of Marcel’s dissertations, and I would have to agree with him: we are not what we live as. 🙂

    Thanks for the incisive comment as well. 🙂

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