Ezra Pound and Mussolini.The kind of hero worship that seems absurdly ridiculous today. Search for the father figure? Demented, this love for pathological killers recast as humanist heroes and purveyors of order and nobility in a world moving too fast and going deeply wrong. A hyper romanticism mixed with a healthy dose of nihilism that would turn back time. An antagonism between mutual enigmas that may reveal some of the limitations of gnostic belief and its shortcomings by way of overturning fragile civilization and distancing from barbarism through various means at its disposal in favor of an archaic destructive past where lives were short and brutal. With Ezra Pound what lies under the early musical notation of the Spanish Troubadors, Sumerian images and Egyptian hieroglyphs and the rest of the gobbly-gook pitched into a cauldron of seething rage where eccentricity rubs shoulders uneasily with the forces of insanity without intervals of flashing lucidity.
His Canto poem attacks the central concept of identity, nation, and culture through an advocation of a global, frontier-free world literature built around the objectivity of a work of art. A back to the garden before the dispersal. Simultaneously, Pound’s writing condemns what could be called the normative canon of multiculturalism which seeks to preserve differences without going too deeply into what those differences represent; the absence of meaningful dialogue reinforcing the status-quo identity of the nation state and making cultural difference somewhat formalized and superficial. Classic Western mechanisms of disavowal. For Pound, difference represents a cultural object’s historicity.Its a weird logic, that seeks to resist the homogenizing aspects of Western , essentially imperial culture and the preservation of the parochial, specific cultural semantics, through the study of national literatures. The snake is constantly biting his tail, swallowing themself and then giving birth to itself. There is something perversely incestuous about Pound’s reasoning that dissolves into notions of white supremacy and a preservation of the gene pool.
…Pound also came into contact with The English Review, which was publishing works by new talents such as D.H. Lawrence, and the author, painter and critic Wyndham Lewis. In 1911 Pound launched his campaign for innovative writing in The New Age, edited by the monetary reformer A.R. Orage. To Pound the new poetry of the century would be “austere, direct, free from emotional slither.” …
…In 1914 Pound started another more enduring movement that was to have a lasting influence on English culture, the Vorticist movement. The impetus came originally from a young avant-garde sculptor, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. Together with Wyndham Lewis and others they launched Blast as the journal of the movement. Fatefully, this was also the year of World War I which took its toll on many Vorticists [including Gaudier-Brzeska]…. Read More:http://library.flawlesslogic.com/pound.htm
…Vorticism was for Pound the first major experience in revolutionary propagandizing and the first cause that placed him beyond the pale of orthodoxy. Pound saw Vorticism as setting “the arts in their rightful place as the acknowledged guide and lamp of civilization.” In this way the arts were welded in a mystical union with politics in the manner already envisaged by Yeats. …Read More:http://library.flawlesslogic.com/pound.htm
But from what toxic sludge of the psyche could Pound draw the portrait of fascism as an ideal scenario? Is this the end result when you mix Aleister Crowley, love cult of the Troubadors, Mein Kampf, esotericism, repressed mystery religions, Greek mythology and Eastern confucianism? In a sense, it comes back to the concept of the an authoritarian personality syndrome that was developed by psychologists in the late 1940’s to make sense of the slaughter and wide appeal of Fascism. These researchers such as Adorno concentrated on metrics based on a set of personality consideration to arrive at a profile of the fascist mindset. The error, or flaw, or omission, was the abundance of processes functioning at social/political/economic spheres which could push the complicity of so many into a very narrow behavioral vacuum, a cleansing, catharsis, while glorifying the dictator as a kind of supra-phallic symbol of regeneration. It was an ambiguous series of causal relationships that Pound could not understand. Like Eichmann, I wonder if Arendt would say Pound was also guilty of thoughtlessness. An inability to think, which would be ironic.
…Pound saw commercialism as the force preventing the realization of his artistic-political ideal. In 1918 he met Maj. C.H. Douglas, the founder of Social Credit, whose theory of monetary reform explained that once money became a commodity instead of a measure of productivity and creativity then a nation and its culture would be sacrificed in the pursuit of commercial interests….
…Pound embraced the Social Credit theory with enthusiasm. Here was the means by which the Money Power which corrupted culture could be overthrown. During the 1930’s and 1940’s Pound wrote a series of booklets on economics and politics, including his first “Social Credit: An Impact”(1935), “A Visiting Card” (1942), and in 1944 “Gold and Work” and “America, Roosevelt, and the Causes of the Present War,” the latter three being published by Fascist Italy.Pound came to his political and economic doctrines by the same esoteric path as Yeats….Read More:http://library.flawlesslogic.com/pound.htm
…Pound considered sex to be a sacrament and an esoteric tradition which had been preserved in the West by the Troubadours. He considered the only true religion to be “the revelation made in the arts.” Rejecting Christianity, he described it as “a bastard faith designed for the purpose of making good Roman citizens slaves, and which is thoroughly different from that preached in Palestine. In this sense Christ is thoroughly dead.” Pound found the Churches objectionable for having gained subsidies which should have gone to artists, philosophers and scientists….( ibid.)
…but years after his thuggish tactics were well-known, he had fervent boosters in the Western democracies. Richard Washburn Child, the American ambassador in Rome from 1921 to 1924, wrote a preface to Mussolini’s autobiography that was almost idolatrous in tone. While on a visit to Italy in 1927, Winston Churchill remarked to journalists, “If I were an Italian I would don the fascist black shirt,” later declaring on his home soil that Mussolini was “the greatest living legislator.”
Pound went beyond admiration to active collaboration. In January 1941 he began a series of polemical broadcasts on Rome Radio, which extolled the genius of Mussolini and vilified Roosevelt and Churchill as the tools of munitions makers and bankers, with many stinging anti-Semitic barbs. Pound was utterly inept as an Italian version of Tokyo Rose; many of his broadcasts were so incoherent that fascist authorities wondered if he was an American spy. In America and Europe, attempts were made to banish his work to the margins of respectable literature. In 1942, Poetry, the magazine for which he had labored so mightily and done so much good, had opined in an editorial, “The time has come to put a formal end to the countenancing of Ezra Pound.” …Read More:http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/essays/in-the-gloom-the-gold.php?page=all
…At the end of the war, Pound was arrested and transferred to a U.S. Army prison camp in Pisa. Held in total isolation in a six-foot-square cage open to the elements, he collapsed after three weeks and was moved to an officer’s tent to recover. There he composed cantos 74 to 84, published in 1948 as The Pisan Cantos. He wrote the first pages (and thus the cycle’s majestic opening line, “The enormous tragedy of the dream in the peasant’s bent shoulders”) on toilet paper. The only books he had were a text of Confucius and a Chinese dictionary he had had in his pocket when he was arrested, a camp-issued Bible, and a paperback poetry anthology he found in the privy. ( ibid.)
With usura hath no man a house of good stone
each block cut smooth and well fitting that design might cover their face,
hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall
harpes et luthes
or where virgin receiveth message
and halo projects from incision,
seeth no man Gonzaga his heirs and his concubines
no picture is made to endure nor to live with
but it is made to sell and sell quickly
with usura, sin against nature,
is thy bread ever more of stale rags
is thy bread dry as paper
with no mountain wheat, no strong flour
with usura the line grows thick
with usura is no clear demarcation
and no man can find site for his dwelling.
stone cutter is kept from his stone
weaver is kept from his loom
wool comes not to market
sheep bringeth no gain with usura
Usura is a murrain, usura
blunteth the needle in the maid’s hand
and stoppeth the spinner’s cunning. Pietro Lombardo
came not by usura
Duccio came not by usura nor Pier della Francesca; Zuan Bellin’ not by usura
nor was “La Calunnia” painted.
Came not by usura Angelico; came not Ambrogio Praedis,
Came no church of cut stone signed: Adamo me fecit.
Not by usura St. Trophime
Not by usura Saint Hilaire,
Usura rusteth the chisel
It rusteth the craft and the craftsman
It gnaweth the thread in the loom
None learneth to weave gold in her pattern;
Azure hath a canker by usura; cramoisi is unbroidered
Emerald findeth no Memling
Usura stayeth the young man’s courting
It hath brought the young bride and her bridegroom
They have brought whores for Eleusis
Corpses are set to banquet
at behest of usura.