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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Daniel Pearlman <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 6 Sep 1999 16:20:23 -0400
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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
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By selective quotation, you softpedal the antisemitism of the
30s, which grew more and more severe.
At 12:09 PM 9/6/99 -0800, you wrote:
>If I may intrude my ignorance into this learned discussion one more time...
>EP's "anti-semitism" seems to me a much more complicated matter than
>either his defenders or detractors appear to realize.
>1.From his earliest letters, poems & articles, EP had an "anti-Judaic"
>positition,but I don't think this qualifies as "anti-semitic" because
>it was part of his general "anti-monotheist" stance, and (I think)
>always appears as part of a general rejection of Chrisitianity, Judaism
>and Islam --"all this Xtian-Jew-Moslem bunk"as he sez in one place.
>(Selected Leters)
>B. In a 1919 aritcle,EP says he prfers the Jews to the Xtians and Moslems
>because they haven't started a religious war in 2000 years (Selected Prose)
>C.The anti-monotheist position seems part of that aspect of  EP
>which comes closest to conventional "liberalism":  he dislikes monotheism
>because it appears historically linked to intolerance.
>[Okay: he also disliked monotheism on poetic grounds.  His type
>of multilinguistic/multicultural sensibility resonated more to
>polytheistic imagery than to monotheistic abstraction
>or to Hindic monist abstraction.]
>2. In the 1930s, Pound repudiated anti-semitism specifically and
>precisely in several places. Having joined the anti-banker radicals
>as distinct from the anti-free-market  radicals, Pound found he
>had a lot of anti-semitic allies. He was not quickly seduced by
>them. His 1930-1940 writings include several explicit rejectons
>of generalized anti-semitism, usually on the grounds that "the
>poorJews"were not responsible for the Rothschilds, and twice on
>the grounds that the worst "usurers" (money-coiners) were
>not all  Jews and once on the grounds that some of them were "Aryan"
>-- a sarcastic repudiation of Hitler's ideas. (Collected Letters, Cantos,
>Terrel's Companion to the Cantos.)
>3. From about 1940 to somewhere in the 1960s EP clearly
>and unambigously expressed uncritical (bigoted) anti-semitism on
>many, many occasions. Only rarely did he pull back to the
>(relatively sane) position of only blaming certain banking families.
>He raved  and ranted against "the Jews" in general.
>Some consider this immoral; some consider it insane;
>I can see some truth in both perspectives.
>4.From sometime in the 1960s (date unknown to me: I wd
>love to be informed by one of the more learned members of
>this list  ) EP repudiated his anti-semitism. (See especially
>his interview with Allen Ginsberg) He then became silent,
>either in clinical depression (psychiatric view) or as
>pennance (religious view.) In either case, the punishment
>inflicted upon him by the US govt was continued by
>5. The anti-monotheist position disappeared around the same
>time as the anti-semitism. The religious imagery of Pound's
>paradise cantos very carefully remains non-sectarian,
>open to both monotheist and polytheist readings.
>This letter does not arrive at a verdict, and does not intend
>to move others toward a verdict or toward abandonning thier
>previous verdicts. I merely wish to share my own sense
>of the complexity and tragedy of Pound's "errors and wrecks."
>Most of the Cantos seem to me neither error nor wreck.....
>Most humbly,
>mark chan
>[log in to unmask]
>That is precisely what common sense is for, to be jarred into uncommon
>sense.  One of the chief services whcih mathematics has  rendered the
>human race in the past century is to put "common sense" where it
>belongs, on the topmost shelf next to the dust cannister labeled
>"discarded nonsense."
>        Eric  Temple   Bell, Mathematics: Queen of the Sciences
>Las die Lasagne weiter fliegen!
Dan Pearlman
102 Blackstone Blvd. #5
Providence, RI 02906
Tel.: 401 453-3027
email: [log in to unmask]
Fax: (253) 681-8518
Department of English
University of Rhode Island
Kingston, RI 02881
Tel.: 401 874-4659