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Everett Lee Lady <[log in to unmask]>
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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 17 Apr 2000 23:44:15 -1000
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>teacher what the rules of the game are?  By the way, himself was quite a
>rigid teacher, with plenty of "set ideas."  Then again, he really
>sought out opposing points of view.
Hmm....  Well, at best one might say that EP *sometimes* sought out
opposing points of view.  And I'm not even completely sure that one can
go that far.  On almost all subjects, EP was quite sure that he knew
all the right answers, and to the extent that he could be considered a
teacher, he saw it as his function to give his students these right
answers.  And to tell them what books to read.
He did indeed consider it important that students go to the sources
themselves and not simply take his word for what was in them, but I
think one can say that he always took it for granted that their
judgements would agree with his own.
People take the term "Ezuversity" much too seriously.  But then, in my
opinion, people take most things about Pound much too seriously.
He did have an urge to be a teacher.  But, as I've said, his conception
of teaching was to give his ideas to others and have them accept them.
He welcomed friendly questions, to the extent that these gave him an
opportunity to explain himself more fully.  But during the time I knew
him at St. Elizabeths, I can't remember him ever being involved in a
conversation where there was real give and take.  And I think that the
reports from those who visited him in Rapallo during the Thirties
indicate that he was not really very capable of dealing with that kind of
give and take, even from his peers.
EP would certainly answer friendly questions, and perhaps answer them
at length, but somehow the answers one got often didn't seem very
useful.  One left feeling still puzzled and frustrated, at least
speaking for myself, that one had been given the "correct" answer to
one's question, but that somehow one was too stupid to figure out what
the answer meant.  I think that getting useful information from EP was
an art that only a few people, such as Hugh Kenner, ever mastered.
Certainly there was a part of him that would have liked to have been a
college professor and always regretted not having become one.  This is
not really a contradiction to his well known disdain for academics.  He
thought that most academics were incompetent and misguided. and thought,
in my opinion, that given the chance, he could have done it the
right way.
Whether he could have ever learned to successfully function within the
academic system is an unanswerable question.  One finds many graduate
students, maybe especially the brightest ones (and perhaps I'm thinking
especially of myself when I was younger!), whose understanding of
the teaching process is no better than EP's was, and over the course of
time they learn more about how to make it work.  (Some learn more than
others, of course!)
One of the paradoxes I seem to observe on this list is that some of the
academics who are most anti-Pound, in the sense of vigorously
condemning everything about him except his ability to write some good
lines of poetry, are actually very similar to him, but in a
mirror-image way.  Their obsessions are the exact opposite of EP's, but
their attachment to these obsessions, and the way in which their
perceptions are constantly distorted by these obsessions, is very much
like him.  As I said above, in my opinion they take EP much too
seriously, in the same way that he took so very many things much
too seriously.
--Lee Lady    Http://www2.Hawaii.Edu/~lady