Monday, February 18, 2008

If Pound were on the POETICS list

"Surely it is better for me to name over the few beautiful poems that still ring in my head than for me to search my flat for back numbers of periodicals and rearrange all that I have said about friendly and hostile writers."

- Ezra Pound

While the talk-show-style kerfuffle on the POETICS list over whether or not EP is an "abomination" heats up, I reflect that when Clive James recently expressed (very civilly) his reservations about the Cantos, he got tagged as some kind of right-wing nut. But there's quite a bit of abuse being heaped up upon Pound by those farther left on the dial than James (to put it mildly). This is consistent with my suspicion that a great deal of the contemporary is actually very old-fashioned: here we are in the 1940s again! (See The Case against the Saturday Review of Literature: The Attack of the Saturday Review on Modern Poets and Critics, Answered by the Fellows in American Letters of the Library of Congress, together with Articles, Editorials, and Letters from Other Writers, published by Poetry in 1949, for a sad recaputulation. What goes around, etc.)

I can't understand why one isn't free to read (or for that matter teach) Pound (or anybody else) with open eyes and open mind. Anybody can judge the man, the work, both life and work together, or both separately. That's what we're supposed to do as readers, right? If I read EP, and reread him, and love and hate and learn from various aspects of what he wrote and said and did, I assume no one's any the worse.


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Just for fun, and on a tangent... this:

"The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life."

Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, p. 241

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