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Daniel Pearlman <[log in to unmask]>
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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 6 Jan 1998 16:18:29 -0500
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 "Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity" -
In the literal sense, this is quite true: AI, as they call the above,
has not even reached the level of the lowliest bug, except in playing
chess--which perhaps says something about the strictly confined, rule-
oriented world of chess.
As to your long and delightfully detailed letter accompanying the
above apercu, I'll answer in some detail below.  I wanted to say
right away, though, that I have just received extra copies of the
Heyne edition of SYNERGY with my novella in it, and I'll be sending
you the one with THE FINAL DREAM in it, which is the one I have
collaboratively turned into a screenplay, in a matter of about one
week--so don't go looking for it in Germany.
It certainly is easy to get lost in EP studies, and I'm still
caught in that vortex to some degree, and I would be totally
immersed if I did not have a far more jealous voice within me
demanding priority of attention.  As to why I turned, in my
fiction writing, to science fiction, you have only to read some
of the greatest SF writers of all time to see SF's potential for
mirroring the world as it is: Jonathan Swift, Karel Capek, Franz
Kafka, H.G. Wells.  (Asimov and other American SF writers had
some influence over me only when I was a teenager, and I even
grew ashamed of reading in the genre when I went to college and
learned what "real" literature was, like James Joyce and Tolstoy,
etc.  But we are living in a science-fiction world right now,
and I find that I can use some of its tropes and methods to best
depict our world in both its humane and inhumane potentialities.
You will see some of those literary possibilities in my novella,
although I'm not sure how the translation has fared with the
dream-puns that are central to the plot!)
Either you didn't tell me, or I forgot, that you had studied
Chinese!  That's great stuff to carry in one's head!!  If
you have the _Agenda_ issue which contains my essay on the
Dame Fortune ideogram in the late cantos, you might enjoy
looking through it.  It was entirely written in the fall of
1971 at Brunnenburg, on the terrace where the famous Gaudier
dick-head of EP was sitting on an ancient tree-stump.
By the way, I believe I reviewed Wilhelm's "Later Cantos"
many years ago and found it rather superficial.  I felt
that my own critical concerns were far more probing and
demanding, so perhaps I am unfair to Wilhelm.
I forget exactly what I wrote you about those letters of
EP to Boris, which are in the Berg Collection of the NY
Public Library--but I wonder if anyone else besides me
has used them since that time in the summer of 1971
when they had just been acquired and the librarian gave
me written permission to read them.  They cover the
years 1954-56.  Apparently, Boris needed some money so
he sold them.  Anyway, they are an important source
for anyone studying Rock-Drill and Thrones, since EP
discusses a lot of details of their composition in
them, and he even asks Boris for Egyptian hieroglyphic
equivalents of certain Chinese or Latin mottoes.  I still
have the notes I took from them.
Though I subscribe faithfully to PAIDEUMA, I've done
very little reading in them for twenty years, so I
would not know if Boris's letters have been explored
by anyone besides me.  I did not even know, for example,
about the Stoicheff and Taylor books you mentioned.
As to whether you should write a full book or series
of essays, doesn't the answer depend on whether the
material demands the unification and interrelated
development implied by a book?  Only you, not Hesse,
can answer that question.
Thank you for picturing your Black Sea vacation setting
so colorfully; lots better than a postcard!
Enjoy the New Year!
Dan Pearlman
Department of English
University of Rhode Island
Kingston, RI 02881
[Latest book: novel, BLACK FLAMES, White Pine Press, 1997]
Tel.: (home) 401 453-3027
      (office) 401 874-4659
Fax:  401 874-2580
Internet: [log in to unmask]