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- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Dirk Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 31 Dec 2002 09:20:21 -0800
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- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
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Well put.  And Dirceu Villa's statement clarifies my dislike of the word
"elitist" when used in re poetry.  The word is either meaningless or
incorrect.  A "language elite" is a construct, a fabrication.  An
economic elite is a reality -- it's what determines the availability to
the culture of its own treasures.  You can call these treasures "elite"
if you want to, but I really don't think it has any meaning to do so.
It merely smacks of snobbery to me -- and what I mean by a snob is
someone who aspires to be among the "elite" -- read "economic elite" --
but isn't.  We can say, "oh, well, there are the very rich, but they're
not the "real" elite.  The "real" elite are the great poets and those
who admire them."

On the other hand, this could be a re-casting of the Adams/Jefferson
debate regarding aristocracy... but in that case, why not just stick
with the word "aristocracy" and remove the slippery and misleading word

-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Romano [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, December 31, 2002 7:02 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: The unwritten laws of art

Given the nature of public elementary and secondary education in the US
A, where the Greek and Latin classics are not taught as they once were
where foreign language instruction is not a priority, few Americans in
Pound's day had the education necessary for understanding his polyglot,
allusive style, and even fewer have it today. Given the pressures of
in this industrialized democracy where overtime is the norm and workers
(non-academics) consider themselves lucky if they get two weeks of
per year, few will have the wherewithal to devote the time and effort
necessary to acquiring these skills later in life after college. And so,
with each succeeding generation, the "classics" of western civilization
become more and more remote from the experience of the American with a
typical four-year college or university education.  Pound wanted to
preserve these cultural treasures. He believed that everyone owned them!
his view, American higher education was not helping people acquire the
language skills that would open this world of culture to them.  He
castigated the American university system for its fragmentation along
arbitrary departmental lines and for its emphasis on narrow
according to the dusty Teutonic model. But he had some hope that the
American educational system might be reformed. In the 1930s he wrote
pamphlets in which he recommended that departments of English and
be abolished and that polyglot departments of comparative literature be
up in their place. This goal is still ahead of us.
Tim Romano

At 05:13 AM 12/31/02 -0800, Dirceu Villa wrote:
>                  there's a problem when you think
>"elite" as being the rich (cl)asses. They are, we can
>say, a kind of "economic elite", but not a "language
>elite". Great poets and writers are the language elite
>wherever they come from: they understand and practice
>many levels of language with unique skill and mastery.
>That's why critics discuss them sideways: critics in
>general can't figure out what is asked of a poet.
>                  Pound's big error was that you can
>read in Stoner's message: the author of The Cantos
>thought he could apply the laws of art (which are by
>no means democratic) to society and have a nice result
>from this bizarre "assemblage". Octavio Paz noticed
>that poetic problem in Pound's comprehension of the
>world between the two wars.
>                 Inevitably, and unhappily, there are
>few people who can understand how art functions. For
>this, see the historic interviews of Paris Review.
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