1. I oppose to what is passing this ramrod of beaten steel. I will not submit to this aimless passing of billycock hats and Homburg hats and all the plumed and variegated head-dresses of women . . . and the words that trail drearily without human meaning; I will reduce you to order.
As Louis sits in the eating-shop in the third section, he watches the people around him, contrasting their lives with the idealized world of the poems he reads. His own poetic project is conceived in terms of resistance, order, and rigidity. He thinks of poetry as a steel ramrod that he will use to straighten out the crookedness of reality. Louis’s tone is defiant, almost angry. He refuses to “submit” to the chaos around him and will “reduce” it to order. However, he still desires to include the details of modern life in his art. In contrast, Bernard becomes dissatisfied with stories precisely because they “reduce” life too much, while “reduction,” in the sense of the elimination of the ugly or mundane, is the secret of Neville’s creativity. Louis, meanwhile, intends to take a ramrod to reality. The human activity he is so captivated with seems like an ocean of chaos; the people are “aimless,” and their “dreary” words lack meaning. Louis wants to state the meaning these passersby will never see for themselves.