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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 6 Sep 1999 12:09:15 -0800
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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!