Thanks for the useful summary Richard. It may come in quite handy from
time to time.
It might help to elaborate on just what was involved in Pound's study
of the congi (sp?) ideogram (as used by the Japanese, though Chinese in
origin). Pound's study involved the realisation that the ideograms are
not words but representations of thought processes, ie.: the effects of
As a Japanese student of mine once managed to squeeze through my thick
brain, the Japanese do not think in words, but, so to speak, in
NOW, if we are to try to understand HOW those mental processes work,
mere dialectical analysis by reduction into the logic of words on the
literal level, will probably not help much, whether we use big or little
*I*s. Metaphor and analogy on the other hand, will tend to go a long, if
not particularly practical way, to getting us there. After all, it was
not the manufacture into English of images that fascinated Pound so
much; it was the perceptual processes of the Japanese per se with which
he chose to wrestle. He also chose not to join the imagist movement.
I never metaphor I didn't like. I once met analogy taking a leap.
According to McLuhan, a man's grasp should exceed his reach,
or what's a metaphor?
From: Richard Seddon
Since it has been introduced to the list I thought I would make a few
comments on McLuhan's use of "Ideogram"
I am proceeding from only his 1948 letter to Pound.
There are two "Ideograms" in Pound studies. The Chinese Ideogram and
Ideogramic technique. Study of the Chinese Ideogram gave rise to
concept of the Ideogramic technique. Effective use of the Ideogramic
technique can result in a literary Ideogram. A literary Ideogram and
Chinese Ideogram are not the same but are related.
The literary ideogram results from the use of multiple Images (big I) in
literary passage. The literary ideogram is the Image (big I) on
The Image (big I) is not necessarily a depiction of anything. It is
"charged language". If I write the word "porn" then I have written the
Image (big I). Everyone that reads the word has an immediate nonverbal
response. The Image is what triggers an emotional complex within a
with a resultant non-verbal "understanding" as the result. I repeat the
Image (big I) is not a depiction it is a process. "An Image is *that*
presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time"
(Pound, "A Retrospect") (emphasis mine)
McLuhan's understanding is of analogy and metaphor. This was precisely
the Image (big I) was not and therefore precisely what the Ideogram was
Pound was in search of a "language beyond metaphor". He was not in
of better means of using metaphor.
For a discussion of the Ideogramic technique see:
Gefin, Laszlo K. *Ideogram, History of a Poetic Method, Austin: Univ of
Texas P, 1982
For the kernel of Pound's interest in the Ideogram see:
"The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry" by Ernest
edited by Ezra Pound and published by City Light Books I believe in
It was originally edited by Pound in 1920.;