EPOUND-L Archives

- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine


Options: Use Forum View

Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Condense Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
En Lin Wei <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 12 Aug 2000 06:49:40 GMT
text/plain; format=flowed
- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (191 lines)
I want to thank Tim Romano, Burt Hatlen, and Maria Ana Calamia for their
recent comments.  Tim Romano, for his recent posts on the issue of Pound's
view of his heritage, in connection with the issue of Pound's sincerity.
They deserve a fuller response than I can give here.  Let me just say, that
Tim Romano has a gift, I think, for entering into the mind of Pound and
interpreting the poet's utterances sympathetically, in a way which is by no
means implausible.  I would like to say more about the subject of Pound's
views on his heritage, and about the whole notion of personal ancestry.   It
would be summed up by what Thomas Paine said about the heredity in his
"Rights of Man."  More on that subject later if you wish.

I also wish to thank Maria Ana Calamia for her very kind remarks about my
contribution to the discussion.  I would invite her to some comments about
the issues under discussion, if she were so inclined.

I give special thanks to Burt Hatlen for his detailed post, laying out his
views on some of the current controversies, and his suggestions about future
topics.  I want to reply, if I might, to some of the specific points he

>I'm committed to the principle of open discourse, and thus I've refused
>to play the role of moderator on this list, even though I'm the
>"owner."  The Poetics list out of Buffalo, for example, became much
>less interesting, in my judgement, when the owners decided to assume
>the role of moderator, vetting submissions before they went out.

I praise your refusal to play moderator, and I respect your interpretation
of my posts.  Moderated lists are always less interesting than unmoderated
lists (and very difficult to keep up-- one is reduced to becoming a censor).
  I witnessed the total collapse of a list dedicated to discussion of the
issue of non-violence (a la Ganhdi and Martin Luther King).  The list fell
apart when a list moderator decided that the issue of abortion was too
contentious for a group of people who "should" primarily be dedicated to the
application of non-violent discourse to the area of anti-war actions.  Sad.
It was one of the most interesting lists on the web that I have seen.

>But it
>is also clear to me that Wei's very volubility, averaging (I would
>guess) somewhere around three lengthy postings per day, and his
>insistence that HIS issues are the only ones worth talking about, has
>indeed silenced some voices who once contributed regularly. I hope that
>some of these voices will return.

Frankly, those last two sentences do not appear to be accurate.  I have
NEVER said, or implied that any specific issues are the only ones worth
talking about.  (Unless one believes that ANY discussion of an issue by one
participant on any subject is ---by implication--- a statement that other
issues should NOT BE DISCUSSED.)  I for instance, think all the issues which
you mention are, or should be, of interest to most Pound scholars, and I
encourage others to discuss them.  As for my "silencing some voices," I am
genuinely surprised that a person so obviously reasonable as yourself would
believe that I am capable of "silencing" anyone, especially on a listserv.
Why are they silenced?  How?  By what power?  NO ONE has answered this
question to my satisfaction.

Now, Tim Romano has said something very important about a danger attendant
upon a certain volume of postings.  He was right, that I have heard nothing
before about the amount of disk space available.  I have a fairly primitive
computer; I use the digest command, receiving all the days postings at once,
and I have no problem.  But if there is a genuine problem, at the end of the
server, or with some individual's computers being able to handle only a
specified volume of posts, then I think this issue should be raised, and
explained in more detail. I certainly did not have any intention of causing
technical difficulties.

>I've been writing
>about Pound's relationship with Fascism since 1982, when I gave a paper
>on this subject at the Pound conference at Middlesex Polytechnic in
>London. The paper was published in 1985, in a volume titled Ezra Pound
>and History, edited by Marianne Korn, and published by the National
>Poetry Foundation. This paper represents one of the first attempts to
>address the issue directly--at the time, the tenor of Pound studies was
>still determined by Kenner's The Pound Era, which still seems to me a
>great book, but which devotes only one evasive sentence to Pound's

With all due respect, we cannot have it both ways.  You want us to keep up
with current research on Pound, to discuss the latest books, and you want us
to consider Kenner's book as still relevant.  Certainly we will all have
different views, but at the risk of sounding even more heretical than I
already appear to some, I find Kenner's book utterly irrelevant, especially
as regards understanding the Chinese cultural, the deep social, political,
and economic dimensions of Pound's work.  If one is solely interested in the
aesthetic dimension of Pound's poetry, and in little else, then it is quite

>The critical discourse around Pound's fascism has moved far beyond my
>modest 1982 paper, in books by, for example, North, Morrison, and now
>Surette himself. In particular, the case against Pound has been
>exhaustively documented by Robert Casillo, in The Genealogy of Demons.
>Now if this discussion group were a genuinely scholarly forum,
>contributors would presumably feel some need to acknowledge work that
>has already been done, and they wouldn't send in postings unless they
>thought that they had something new to contribute.  Yet to the best of
>my recollection, Wei has never cited any of the published scholarly
>work on Pound's fascism.

You may have missed it.  But the best citations on this issue are Pound's
own quotations, many of which are ignored.  I have mentioned Pound's
translations of Odon Por from Italian into English, and no one so far, has
seemed interesting in discussing that rather embarassing part of Pound's
literary work.  More ink has been spilt over Douglas, when Odon Por had a
far greater influence on the ultimate composition of Pound's economic

If you want to see a list containing a number of the works on Pound's
fascism which I have consulted, you might look at my bibliography on line.


You say that I have not cited many works on Pound's fascism, but I don't
recall that anyone this list has, at least not recently.

Casillo (who I have mentioned numerous times) may or may not have
exhaustively documented Pound's fascism and anti-semitism.  Personally, I do
not think he has. What I would venture to say is that VERY LITTLE CRITICISM
has been written about the total compatibility of Pound's fascism with his
Confucianism.  Most critics who stress Pound's fascism (like Casillo)
mention it briefly, in passing; while most Pound critics who study Pound in
relation to Confucius and Chinese history (like Nolde) neglect the
connection almost entirely.  I would go so far as to suggest that the vast
majority of Pound critics (including a majority of those subscribed to this
list --- dare I say it?) have not demonstrated sufficient knowledge of
Confucius, Confucianism, or Chinese history to make a final judgement on the
subject of the POUND-FASCISM-CONFUCIANISM issue. That does NOT MEAN that I
am capable of a final judgment on the matter.  Not at all.  But I think I
may be as qualified to speak on the issue as most on the list, and I should
not be accused of going over ground that others have covered.  (If I am
guilty of this "sin" then so are all other list members). I assert, I am no
better, nor worse than anyone else here.  We all have our interests, and
areas of expertise.  Nor should there be an explict or implict hierarchy,
which assumes, some scholars, "because they know more" or "have written
more", deserve special consideration on a listserv.  Welcome to the age of
the internet.

>I would like to add that I am generally sympathetic with Wei's own
>politics. I believe that American imperialism has, in the name of
>democracy, squashed democracy around the world. I believe that the term
>"political correctness"  has been developed by the American Right as a
>way to discredit any voices that are seeking to call attention to
>economic and social injustice.  And I remain committed to the radical
>American democratic tradition of Tom Paine and Whitman's Democratic
>Vistas and Eugene Debs and Paul Robeson and Michael Harrington.

I am glad to hear this.  You and I share a very similar political vision, I

>At the same time, I find myself baffled by Wei's interest in Pound, in
>the same way that I am baffled by Casillo's book.  Why write a 500 page
>book about a poet's whose work seems to you simply a farrago of hatred
>and self-pity? If Casillo really thinks that Pound's poetry is
>worthless, I would suggest that he say NOTHING about it: if you want to
>purge a poet from the literary canon, the best strategy is to ignore
>that poet's work.

I can see why you might lump me in with Casillo, given some of my
assumptions and modes of expression.  But I am not Casillo, nor is he me.  I
think his is an excellent piece of scholarship.  As to what motivates him, I
cannot say.  My motivation is, and has been my own.  Nor would I say, that
Pound's work is a "farrago of hatred and self-pity."  Nothing of the sort.
People might mistake my criticism of Pound with Casillo's, which is
understandable.  The essential points of the criticism would easily be
understood by reference to my web site (address above).

It might do for me to explain, in a simple and straightforwardly personal
manner, why I have been interested in Pound, and why I have been motivated
to say what I have said (though such a personal history is really irrelevant
to the points I am making, which must be judged on their logical merit, on
the basis of analysis of Pound's texts, Pound's historical sources, and the
history which Pound ignores.)

I will explain my personal motivations, which I have neglected to detail up
until now, if anyone explicitly posts a request on the list that I do so.

(continued in next post)

Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com