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Tim Romano <[log in to unmask]>
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- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 4 Sep 2000 00:19:35 -0400
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Interesting challenges. Granted, the modernists were interested in the
individual;  I won't concede that this interest in the self as lens was a
"blight".  The_ego scriptor_ of the Pisan Cantos saw himself in the great
tradition of 'merkan egoism' . He believed in luminaries.

"Negative capability" and "directed will" are divergent paths. Keats sought
a quietness of being.  Pound celebrated the noise of doing.  Beauty for
Keats consisted in sublime Arrest; beauty, for Pound, was to be found in
mundane Function and in the aptness of the design.


---- Original Message -----
From: "bob scheetz" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, September 03, 2000 9:31 PM
Subject: Re: More on Ants & Centaurs

> tim,
>      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?
> thanks,
> bob
> ----- 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
> Canto
> > 1 with the lines "Line quiet Divus. I mean that is Andreas Divus/In
> officina
> > Wecheli, 1538, out of Homer".  The poet takes off his mask in these
> > Of course, an unmasking is itself a symbolic gesture ... and so the face
> > behind the mask is yet another persona.  Even so, "frankness" and
> > are ideals highly prized by Pound, even though perfect candor -- the
> > unmasked -- is unattainable. This realization takes one into the world
> > Action and directed will, or leaves one looking at the mirror in the
> mirror.
> > Recall Robert Graves'  box-- "children, don't untie that string!".
> >
> > As the self is merely a jumble of broken mirrors, so the direction of
> > 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
> the
> > form of the animal nature. The centaur can be read as a symbol of this
> dual
> > beast,  moved by reason and passion.  A beast of great learning but also
> of
> > great heart, its hooves planted firmly in the loam.  This is a common
> > understanding of the symbolic aspects of that man-beast.  Yet the
> > meaning seems to fall shy of the mark, in the context of the homiletic
> "pull
> > down thy vanity" passage. The symbolic meanings do not point at the
> > of human endeavor.
> >
> > You are right, I think, to look outside this symbolic meaning, as you
> > done. The equestrian statues, man-horse units, do signify  military
> > intelligence and bravery. Such associations work well with Dan
> > "myrmidon" reading. But it also behooves us to bring in complementary
> > associations from Pound's other writings of the period. In Women of
> Trachis,
> > 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,
> > Canto 81 is no exception.  Europe is wreckage.  And there is also
> "pastoral"
> > 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
> on
> > 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