Ezra Pound Political Essays

Ezra Pound Political Essays-35
and elsewhere,1 placing his own words in their mouths and drawing parallels that often defy documents, events and their general accounts by historians.Within the general frame of Pound’s theory of the “luminous detail,” the attention paid to facts and the accuracy of reference by such as Carroll F.in modes that seem to be fully achieved in the “art” of Nazi spectacle.

and elsewhere,1 placing his own words in their mouths and drawing parallels that often defy documents, events and their general accounts by historians.Within the general frame of Pound’s theory of the “luminous detail,” the attention paid to facts and the accuracy of reference by such as Carroll F.in modes that seem to be fully achieved in the “art” of Nazi spectacle.

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Ezra Pound might be seen as pulling back together what Benjamin sees as two opposed “polar” points of art reception: for Benjamin, “Works of art are received and valued on different planes.

Two polar types stand out; with one, the accent is on the cult value; with the other, on the exhibition value of the work” (“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” V); for Pound, the ritualistic value of art and its exhibition value are not antagonistic, but two forces that need combining...

If this is for the most part fiction, and a very inventive and questionable reading of the archival material in the light of crypto-Fascist reinventions of the modern Italian man, it more symptomatically points to the intrinsic link made between the political structures and the aesthetic options of a given time and place.

To a certain extent, Pound puts into practice a theory whereby aesthetics informs the politics of an era, as much as it is informed by it: in Pound’s view, the assumed fin-de-siècle detachment of the arts is over, which entails a revision of the entire history of the arts and literature, and this revision happens in the light of such characters as Malatesta, whose patronage of the arts is seen as much more significant than personal interest, since it comes to embody a superior awareness of both the “politics of aesthetics” (Rancière) and the “aesthetics of politics” (Benjamin) as at work simultaneously and in conjunction.

In the Epilogue, Benjamin notes that the mass visual culture that has resulted from mechanical reproduction has been utilized by Fascist regimes as a means of reinforcing their power and distracting their populations from the problems of property relations.

Benjamin is critiquing not aesthetics In Benjamin’s own words, the dialectics amounts to a form of hijacking of aesthetics by rogue politics, through the technological devaluation of the “aura” of the authentic.

In Pound, Fascism emerges at the end of a whole process of utopian disillusionment in the possibilities of enforcing an anti-capitalistic economy in a sophisticated civilization, respectful of the grandeur of the past yet adapted to the advances of modernity, so that it is probably the most visible and reprehensible facet of a more general interlocking of politics and aesthetics.

In this specific case, the interaction between the Benjaminian aesticization of politics, and aesthetics as providing the categories to perceive of politics, more along the lines of Rancière’s theory, is complex and leads to what may seem to be a perilous balancing act: That Pound could apparently accommodate both these ravings and a “sophisticated” modernism in this period might seem surprising; but the writer would have seen no conflict here.

It could very well point at the surprising convergence of the expressive modes of modernist impersonality, and the fascistic tendencies to erase the moral demands of individual integrity.

There is thus at times an uncanny correspondence between the politics of Fascism and Ezra Pound’s aesthetics.

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