Ezra Pound Political Essays

The outcome is war, and its outrageous aestheticization in a “self-alienation” that cannot but bewilder: the masses end up longing for the perverse sacralization of their own enslavement and destruction: The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process.

Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate.

Terrell2 or Tim Redman,3 might resort more to erudition than to a dynamic evaluation of Ezra Pound’s strategic decisions in inscribing historical facts under the sign of a highly idiosyncratic master narrative: the reformulation of historical accounts wills itself into performativity, amounting to an actual reforming of history, in the sense of its reshaping, reorganizing, and redirecting.

If Pound is indeed very aware of the theoretical ramifications of his aesthetic decisions, up to the point of integrating the aesthetic statement to the poem both in the conceptual import of its statements and in the formal experiments it evidences, it seems that he is also working towards the definition of a politics of aesthetics.

All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war.

(Benjamin “Epilogue” to “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”)What is in fact more relevant to Pound is the possibility of a more intricate relationship between aesthetics and politics, which includes but does not limit itself to the Fascist case.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 this respect, the instance of Sigismundo Malatesta4 in the “Malatesta Cantos,” has been well studied, notably by Lawrence Rainey, and Tim Redman: both underline the way the archival work to dig up Sigismundo Malatesta’s story is superseded by the demands of both romanticization (aestheticization), and exemplariness (politicization), to the extent that it becomes a case in point to demonstrate the Poundian process of simultaneous historicization and poeticization.Under Pound’s supervision, the architecture of the Tempio d’Amore comes to embody the independence, economic and political, of a pre-Capitalist Italy, free from the fetters of money to invent the aesthetic Renaissance.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.Inscribed within the framework of Ezra Pound’s theory of the “luminous detail,” historical facts are placed under the sign of a highly idiosyncratic master narrative, which ties in with a politics of aethetics, after Jacques Rancière but also in keeping with Benjaminian evaluations of the political uses of aesthetics.Mainly focused on , this article considers the possibility of a Poundian perilous fascination for an aestheticized vision of politics, yoking together the conception of state and the construction of the poem, under similar demands of beauty and aesthetic elegance, at the expense of ethical imperatives.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...


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