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bob scheetz <[log in to unmask]>
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- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 3 Sep 2000 21:31:11 -0400
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     sadly,  i think you are finally right about the
narcissism/exhibitionism (vanity) as the pound-ian arch-trope.
there is an relentlessly idiotic (original gk sense) structure
which he clearly cultivated...and which is impenetrable
...a specific lack of negative capability, a middle-class merkan egoism,
posing as "authenticity", the logical
culmination of romanticism, which has blighted
most of modernism, no?


----- Original Message -----
From: Tim Romano <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, September 01, 2000 8:51 AM
Subject: Re: More on Ants & Centaurs

> Bob,
> An autobiographical thread runs throughout the Cantos  - beginning in
> 1 with the lines "Line quiet Divus. I mean that is Andreas Divus/In
> Wecheli, 1538, out of Homer".  The poet takes off his mask in these lines.
> Of course, an unmasking is itself a symbolic gesture ... and so the face
> behind the mask is yet another persona.  Even so, "frankness" and "candor"
> are ideals highly prized by Pound, even though perfect candor -- the self
> unmasked -- is unattainable. This realization takes one into the world of
> Action and directed will, or leaves one looking at the mirror in the
> Recall Robert Graves'  box-- "children, don't untie that string!".
> As the self is merely a jumble of broken mirrors, so the direction of the
> will must be external in its origin. In Pound, the external direction is
> twofold: the heavenly, in the form of Right Reason, and the chthonic, in
> form of the animal nature. The centaur can be read as a symbol of this
> beast,  moved by reason and passion.  A beast of great learning but also
> great heart, its hooves planted firmly in the loam.  This is a common
> understanding of the symbolic aspects of that man-beast.  Yet the symbolic
> meaning seems to fall shy of the mark, in the context of the homiletic
> down thy vanity" passage. The symbolic meanings do not point at the Vanity
> of human endeavor.
> You are right, I think, to look outside this symbolic meaning, as you have
> done. The equestrian statues, man-horse units, do signify  military
> intelligence and bravery. Such associations work well with Dan Pearlman's
> "myrmidon" reading. But it also behooves us to bring in complementary
> associations from Pound's other writings of the period. In Women of
> the centaurs are called "arrogant, lawless", traits which fit in quite
> tightly with the themes of  Vanity and "self-mastery".
> Certainly there are elegiac aspects to the poems in the Pisan Cantos, and
> Canto 81 is no exception.  Europe is wreckage.  And there is also
> elements to be found in "the green world."   Even political conflict is
> transposed into a naturalistic key:
>         hot wind came from the marshes
>             and death chill from the mountains
> And yet Elegy tends toward fade-out and drift-off, whereas Canto 81 ends
> an assertive even defiant note  vis-a-vis the activist role the poet has
> played. So I wouldn't want to put any sort of label on the poem.
> Tim