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TSE  February 2003

TSE February 2003

Subject:

Re: Ezra Pound (OT if Ezra is OT; was Mopius Louse)

From:

Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Sat, 15 Feb 2003 01:15:09 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (83 lines)

Peter Montgomery wrote:
>
> I vaguely remember one line from one of the
> broadcasts. It was directed at the soldiers
> and went "What are you fighting for?"
> Lots of ammunition there. My impression was he
> was seduced by Mussolini's love of the arts and
> promise to support artists. The rest is pure
> Pound.

There is an article, I think in _Critiical Inquiry_ which identifies
some of the personal experiences which became in Pouind's mind a basis
for admiring Mussolini. But Pound brought a certain perspective to bear
on those experiences, and it was that perspective which runs through the
_Cantos_. After 50 years of calling everything we don't like "fascist"
(or Nazi), one loses a sense of the specific differentiae of those
phenomenat, their historical location. And of of their aspects was that
they appealed in very different ways and for very different reasons to
different 'sectors' of the population. Someone needs to (perhaps someone
has and I just haven't heard of it) write a book on the form fascism
took in the mind of the intellectuals it attracted (Pound, Eliot, Yeats,
Lawrence, W. Lewis, Heidegger, etc.) For Lawrence, perhaps for
Heidegger, and in a different way Lewis, the appeal was a racialist
appeal. (Eliot was always more cautious than the others, so the extent
of attraction he felt is quite unclear.) But what they all did, I think,
was impose an idea in their heads onto the fascist (or Nazi) movements,
which bore little necessary relation to the actualities of the two
movements.

Social Credit leads to attraction to some form of authoritarianism --
and the forms available were Mussolini and Hitler. Very crudely (and
just one of the forms): the government prints money (it does _not_
collect taxes), but the money is dated, and loses X% of its value at
regular intervals, so the possessor has to spend it before it loses all
its value. Hence circulation is maintained. But how do you get people to
accept funny money? You put a gun to their head and say, take it. (This
is _very_ crude, but the feel is more or less correct.) Pound became
convinced that Mussolini was doing something like this.

There is a passage, both wonderful and vile, someplace in _Rock-Drill_
which I can't locate just now, that is something like:

Adolph furious from perception,
But there is a blindness that comes from inside.

(The further in the past the real Adolph fades, the less the clash with
reality will block out the profundity of the lines.) It applies to
Pound. He was enraged by human misery. He eventually came to see himself
that something had gone wrong (see the lines I quoted in an earlier post
from the last fragments of the unfinished Cantos). He had the Platonic
belief that that human well-being could only be ministered to by an
elite, but he was focused on human well-being:

The enormous tragedy of the dream in the peasant's bent shoulders
        (First line of the _Pisan Cantos_)

or

I went to Clay's on the Friday, the youngest child
        went to sleep on the sofa.
Mrs Clay, as always since the death of her daughter,
        the picture of desolation
But calm and conversable.
        Clay and I parted at midnight.
Saturday, Randolph's, George town,
Could not ask him
        but mentioned the child asleep on the sofa.
He said:
        "I shall do nothing to disturb its sleep
        or the repose of its mother",
and went on making codicils for things of slight value . . . .
        (Canto 88)

Where else in all the great high moderns do you have anything like
these? Beside them the lines beginning "In that open field" in _East
Coker_ are thin in their vision, fine as they are in many ways. (The
lines on the sleeping child are taken from Senator Thomas Hart Benton's,
_Thirty Years View of the United States Senate_, and refer to a duel
between Clay and Randolph. I don't know of any real parallel to that
sleeping child in 20th century literature. (Randolph planned not to
return fire.)

Carrol

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