*’image’. ‘complex’. ‘VORTEX’. —on Ezra Pound, Imagism, and the ‘image’… *part (i). ‘the exact word’. …

*(… —follows on from *‘the image.—vs. Platonic ressentiment’, *‘—toward a disruptive, anti-transcendental “classicism”’, and *‘—the “classical”.—vs. the “romantic” (in Joyce, Nietzsche, and Hulme.)’ …).

 

*I’ve struggled (again) to write all this. …

 

I know that between the previous two posts here there had been a fairly substantial (and, frankly, unintended) hiatus of sorts. …

 

—I’ve struggled to (re-)write the material on the ‘classical’—working from notes, fresh readings-materials, and fragments—in a way that I hadn’t foreseen (after all,… the parallels between the opposition of the ‘classical’ to the ‘romantic’ in Joyce, Nietzsche, and Hulme are fairly obvious and straightforward, and I had the mass of the material ready prepared from the fragments of my doctoral thesis).

 

Particularly difficult was to re-jig (so to) the conclusion of my reading of The Birth of Tragedy in the light of Nietzsche on the ‘classical’ and the ‘romantic’. …

 

—This actually took place in the reverse order in my doctoral thesis, with the ‘classical’ material preceding my chapter on Birth, and the Birth chapter (perhaps more simply) speaking back to the ‘classical’. …

 

And perhaps this original structure does indeed actually work better. …

 

hmm.

 

More, though, I had wanted in the doctoral thesis to talk more about Pound, and about Imagism,—using them to qualify, clarify, and to use as examples of, the ‘classical’. …

 

—Without ever truly being (absolutely) sure why (or how). …

 

 

—It wasn’t until I went back over my thesis material, notes, and Pound’s and the Imagist texts here *(—in preparation for this), that I had what, at least at the time, felt like (a sort of) a revelation: …

 

* …—of the way in which Pound’s writing on the ‘image’ and the key terms of the Imagist’s ‘manifestoes’, when taken in the light of some of the Imagist poems,… —bring together the philosophical and artistic (aesthetic) ideas and concepts I’ve been concerned with (throughout the various posts-fragments-chapters of this ‘ere ol’ blog project), and how—in turn—these ideas and concepts can help, then, to contextualise and to elucidate the key terms of Pound’s writing on art and the ‘image’ and the Imagist’s key artistic claims. …

 

*—a sort of (quite sweeping, perhaps) assessment, I s’pose of the… (for want of a better term-turn-of-phrase) intellectual (artistic and philosophical) *tradition (—yes, yes,… —I know, I know…) formed between Nietzsche, Bergson, Hulme, Joyce, Pound, and the Imagists…

 

*—of (—toward) a disruptive, anti-transcendental neo-classicism. …

 

And that is what I hope to present here.

 

 

—I’ve struggled to do any real justice to the material, I think. …

(I’m still anxious that all of this is too… superficial. … —too precious and too loaded).

 

I’m aware that there is a fair amount of assumed knowledge—of Pound, Imagism, and the Imagists, without a great of background: historical, biographical (etc.)—in my reader (as there was in my argument on Nietzsche and Birth).

 

I’d refer the reader back to my incredibly cursory and ineffectual ‘brief history’ of Imagism in the context of Joyce’s writing, and I do do so,—at the outset of all this here. …

 

*—My focus here is theoretical: … *(that is,…) I’m interested in the detail of the artistic and philosophical claims (—about poetry, and about the nature, and (the treatment of) the proper subject matter of the poem…) in-of Pound, and of the Imagists. …

 

As such, I focus on a small number of (what seem to me to be) their key collective claims, eschewing wider discussion of the key figures involved in Imagism (and their wider literary output), and—to be honest—I do no real justice to ol’ Ezra (really), focussing on the key terms in the development of his writing on Imagism and the ‘image’, and not discussing his life or wider work.

 

 

*—I’m aware that a lot of the posts I’ve put up here are, really, far too long for the patience of most readers.

 

And so,…        (hell)

 

I’m going to present this as a series of shorter fragments, for the sake of much easier and more comfortable digestion. …

 

(hmm)

 

 

*…—It’s often the case *(a fairly common conception) that the Imagists receive a great deal of (let’s call it) critical – flak for (what even ‘Modernist’ Scholars with an interest in Imagism and its place and importance in Modernism, and Modern Art more broadly, have been known to characterise as) the poor quality (so to) of their poetical output,… —especially when measured against the innovation, (intellectual) integrity, and promise(-potential) of their artistic claims and manifestoes. …

 

 

*—I want here—by(-in) contrast (hmm)—to draw out the fundamental details of the aesthetic  claims promoted in the writings of Pound, and by the Imagists, and (and perhaps more importantly(—?)) to read a small selection of their poems in terms of, and as examples of the practical executions of, those claims. …

 

*In order, in the end,—to… —draw out (then), in effect, the deep-rooted connection between the ‘classical’ and the ‘image’.

 

 

*image. ‘complex’.—‘VORTEX’. …

 

So, …

(hmm).

 

*—The concept of the ‘image’ lies at the very heart (of the evolution-development) of Ezra Pound’s critical writing, as well as (—clearly) the (self-styled) Imagists shared project.

*(For a crude, brief, and largely incompetent history of ‘Imagism’, the reader is pointed toward the last portion of my ‘the “image”.—vs. Platonic ressentiment.

 

—For a more lucid, detailed, and developed history, the interested reader is recommended to consult Peter Jones’s excellent ‘Introduction’ to Imagist Poetry. …).

 

 

*—. I want to pause here (as a sort of an—aside, I s’pose) to dwell on the work of Pound and the Imagists.

 

In particular, I want to examine, and to draw out the stakes of, the close (nay—the intimate (let’s say it)) relationship between the concept of the ‘image’ and that of the ‘classical’. *(—what a ‘classical’ art-poetry might indeed look like. … ).

 

 

So then,…

 

—I’ll read from Pound’s critical writing and the Imagist’s manifestoes in order to draw out their key artistic claims (or demands), as well as the philosophical (so to) characteristics of the ‘image’, before moving on to read some examples of Imagist poetry, in order to analyse the artistic practise and poems (poetry) to which these claims and characteristics gave rise.

 

 

—The aim here, then, is to examine more closely the development of the ‘classical’ in(-within) self-styled neo-classical Modernism (more broadly understood):

*—the intimate connection between the ‘classical’ and (the concept of) the ‘image’, and the impact of this development on literary-poetical theory and practise.

 

*Whilst, as I said in my ‘brief history’(sic) of Imagism, it’s problematic at best to try to regard Joyce himself as, in any way, a practising ‘Imagist’,… examining the ‘image’ (or, rather: images) of Pound and of the Imagists, will help me to clarify what I believe is at stake in Dedalus’s theory of the ‘image’ in Portrait (and its development from the ‘epiphany’ of the Stephen Hero draft),—helping me to demonstrate its (intrinsic) alignment or parallel (for want) with the overall development of Nietzsche’s theory of, and writing on, art and the relevance of an understanding of Nietzsche, his theory of art, and relationship to Romanticism, to an understanding of the intellectual (—philosophical and artistic) underpinnings of (self-styled. ‘neo-classical’) Modernism.

 

 

In particular here, I want to focus, quite liberally and freely actually,  on Pound’s ‘A Retrospect’ (incorporating ‘A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste’, first printed in Poetry, March 1913, and reproduced in ‘A Retrospect’: Pound, Pavannes and Divisions, 93-111)) as well as the prefaces to the 1915 and 1916 ‘Imagist’ anthologies. *(—The two prefaces are reproduced in Jones, ed., Imagist Poetry, 134-140).

 

 

*the exact word. …

 

*—In Some Imagist Poets (1915), Lowell et al. lay out a set of principles for the movement which helpfully (at least for my own current purposes here) form an almost verbatim repetition of Ezra Pound and F.S. Flint’s earlier definition of ‘Imagisme’, and of the image, in ‘A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste’, presenting them in the form of a convenient and easily digestible list, and it’s worth, I think, reproducing it in full here… —

1. To use the language of common speech, but to employ always the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.

2. To create new rhythms—as the expression of new moods—and not to copy old rhythms, which merely echo old moods. We do not just insist upon “free-verse” as the only method of writing poetry. We fight for it as a principle of liberty. We believe that the individuality of a poet may often be better expressed in free-verse than in conventional forms. In poetry, a new cadence means a new idea.

3. To allow absolute freedom in the choice of subject. It is not good art to write badly about aeroplanes and automobiles; nor is it necessarily bad art to write well about the past. We believe passionately in the artistic value of modern life, but we wish to point out that there is nothing so uninspiring nor so old-fashioned as an aeroplane of the year 1911.

4. To present an image (hence the name: “Imagist”). We are not a school of painters, but we believe that poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous. It is for this reason that we oppose the cosmic poet, who seems to shirk the real difficulties of his art.

5. To produce poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite.

6. Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very essence of poetry.

(repr. in Jones, ed., Imagist Poetry, 135; & cf. Coffman, Jr., Imagism, 28-29. …

—See also, F.S. Flint’s ‘Imagisme’—which immediately preceded ‘A Few Don’ts’ in Poetry—in Pound, Early Writings

1. Direct treatment of the “thing,” whether subjective or objective.

2. To use absolutely no word that did not contribute to the presentation.

3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome. [—209-210]

).

 

*— …

 

‘to employ always *the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.’

 

*… —an absolute (in the sense of uncompromising), sharp, hard (that is,—ruthless) poetic-literary *economy (—‘concentration),—& (an equally absolute) fidelity to the (artist’s) model, & to the impression (so to.—the experience, I s’ppose, of artistic inspiration).

… —an aversion (then) to ‘decoration’: to sentiment, & to metaphor &/or simile. …

*—a commitment to concision: …

—to a fidelity to the model/experience, eschewing (so to) any attempt to add to, or to… inflate the model-experience, or to attach to it(/them) the prosthesis of a transcendental-metaphysical significance *(—a ‘Platonic Idea-Form’) that would surreptitiously serve to lift them out of the sphere of the everyday (in-onto the ‘otherworldly), and, thus, imbue the poet-artist (so to. again,—surreptitiously and ingenuously) with some form of special-elect prophetic-‘mystic’, ‘consciousness expanding’ insight (—as the one who has access to the otherworldly (Platonic), which is why, I’d argue, their terms echo (oh so very closely) those of Stephen’s rejection of ‘symbolism and idealism’ and aesthetical metaphysics *(—the ‘romantic’ …):

—‘To present an image’. … ‘—‘poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous. It is for this reason that we oppose the cosmic poet, who seems to shirk the real difficulties of his art.’

 

‘To create new rhythms—as the expression of new moods—and not to copy old rhythms, which merely echo old moods.’

 

… —

 

This echoes ol’ Fritz (in ‘On Truth’, and in Birth) and Henri Bergson on the laceration of the stultified… skin (—a membrane. so to) of linguistic convention (and prejudice),… —down (back)—into flux, through ‘intuition’,… and the need for new words-forms: ‘he speaks only in forbidden metaphors and in unheard-of combinations of concepts. He does this so that by shattering and mocking the old conceptual barriers he may at least correspond creatively to the impression of the powerful and present intuition. (Nietzsche, ‘On Truth’, 118)… —‘new rhythms’,—to capture (—to incorporate) the new ‘moods’ (so to), which result. …

And this is what is meant, I’d argue (at least), by the Imagist’s appeal to: ‘a principle of liberty’: ‘a new cadence means a new idea’.

 

 

*—The ‘Direct treatment of the “thing”’. …

 

direct,… —a pragmatic, detailed, attention, with ‘thing’ notably placed in parenthetical quotation marks: *—the ‘Direct treatment’ and the ‘new mood’ bringing its very ‘thinghood’ (so to) into question. …

 

*…—attention. being brought into focus upon the ‘thing’ in question (—the ‘thing’ itself exciting-eliciting this attention, and thereby becoming the artist’s model … ), which serves to bring into question (to—undo?) the dismissive complacency (—of habit, apparent familiarity,—of (quotidian) prejudice) with which it would, otherwise, have been greeted.

*(—compare on this: ‘A Few Don’ts’… —on ‘sincerity’, and a ‘certain limpidity and precision’ as ‘the ultimate qualities of style’. … *[103: on ‘Technique’, and 132] … ).

 

 

*—This particular iteration of the Imagist ‘manifesto’ (so to) is also important or significant in-through the (self-styled) ‘Imagists’ location of their shared project-interests in relation to (broader) contemporary debates on art and aesthetics. …

 

 

*—. —The reference here to ‘free verse’ (vers libre.—a form of unrhymed verse divided into lines of no particular length and without a consistent metrical pattern, but still recognizable as poetry due to the complex patterns which it employs and that readers are able to perceive to be part of a coherent whole)—represents, at least in part, an allusion to the French Symbolist poets, who popularised the form. …

 

—In their adoption of free-verse, but rejection of it as the only possible method of writing poetry, the Imagists sought both to appropriate what they saw as valuable, and to reject what they saw as restrictive, within Symbolism: opening the potential ( and freedom) to appropriate form and formal experimentation, whilst remaining at liberty to fundamentally reject any metaphysical ambitions or aspirations (—prejudices?) underpinning Symbolist poetry. …

*(—For an extended discussion of the relationship of Imagism to Symbolism, see Wallace Martin, ‘The Sources of the Imagist Aesthetic’ PMLA, Vol. 85, No. 2, [March, 1970], 196-204. …

 

—Martin argues that though they are markedly different, neither Hulme nor Pound’s conception of ‘the image’ ‘is historically derived from or theoretically similar to the aesthetic of the Symbolists.’ [197-198])…

 

 

 

—The rejection of ‘aeroplanes and automobiles’ as (automatically-necessarily) fit subjects for art, and openness to the recuperation-or reclamation (so to) of the past as a fit subject for poetry, form pointed (—implicit, yet, in their specificity, actually fairly arch) allusions to ‘Futurism’,—founded by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1909. …

 

*.—In his ‘Manifesto of Futurism’, Marinetti defined Futurism as the art of (violent) velocity… —

We say that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty; the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot—is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.

*(Filippo Tommaso Marinetti ‘Futurist Manifesto,’ La Gazzetta dell’Emilia, 5th February 1909 reproduced in Le Figaro, 20th February 1909. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, ‘The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism,’ in Marinetti: Selected Writings, ed. R.W. Flint, trans. R.W. Flint, Arthur A. Coppotelli [London: Secker & Warburg, 1972], 39-44 [41])

 

—In obviously intentionally sexualised terms, Marinetti defines Futurism as a celebration of emergent technologies, particularly those of transport, and with(-in) a particularly fervent rejection of the (historical, technological, and artistic) past…

*—‘Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible? […] We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind’. (41-42)

 

 

*—In ‘Vorticism’, Pound dismissed Futurism as mere ‘accelerated impressionism,’ dubbing it ‘a spreading or surface art.’ (279.—See also, Jones, ed., Imagist Poetry, 21).

 

*—With what can be characterised as its combination of Impressionist (—particularly the plein air movement’s self-avowed goal of capturing the vitality and flux of the lived-experience *(—the artist’s subject-model) and Cubist (—Picasso’s form of psychological realism) influences, … —Futurism marks, or rather names, the artistic attempt to capture and to articulate the changes in the perception and velocity of daily life opened up with-in the advent of new technologies (—particularly of the aeroplane and automobile… ).

 

 

—The Imagists, then, sought (explicitly and conscientiously) to place their emphasis on (what here could be called) the *stasis, … *—the concision (—exactness), and clarity of images and, thus, the very concept of the ‘image’ (itself), in stark contrast-opposition to Futurism’s (Marinetti’s) emphasis upon technology, velocity, and also (by extension, I’d argue) its violent reactionary politics, which glorified militarism and nationalism, and offered a violent rejection of feminism: ‘We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman’ [ibid.]. …).

 

 

Imagism—that is the Imagists—then, are at some pains in their ‘manifesto’ to locate themselves beyond or (perhaps rather) outwith , both the ‘Platonism’ *(the—pseudo-transcendentalism, so to) of, I’d argue, an especially ‘Yeatsian’ brand/derivation of ‘Symbolism’ *( … —in his later essay, ‘Vorticism’, pausing to define ‘symbolism’, Pound again draws out and rejects this pseudo-transcendentalism: … —‘It is not necessarily a belief in a permanent world, but it is a belief in that direction.’ *[—281]), as well as the technologically focussed (and fuelled, so to) obsession with (sheer) *velocity (—of both technology, and (in-)of time) in-of Futurism. …

 

 

In the stead of the ‘Platonic’ otherworld of the ‘cosmic’ symbolist poet, and the brash high-velocity machismo of the Futurist artist, then,… —the Imagists lay an emphasis, echoing the terms of the ‘classical’, as I have laid these out, in Joyce, Nietzsche, and Hulme, on an unflinching, anchored (pragmatic) concern with (fidelity to) lived-experience,… —what could be summarised here, for my current purposes as the experiential stoicism and philosophical scepticism of the ‘classical’,—as evinced by ol’ Jimmy J.., Fritz, and Hulme.

 

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2 thoughts on “*’image’. ‘complex’. ‘VORTEX’. —on Ezra Pound, Imagism, and the ‘image’… *part (i). ‘the exact word’. …

  1. […] *‘the “classical”.—vs. the “romantic” (in Joyce, Nietzsche, and Hulme.)’, and *‘“image”. “complex”. “VORTEX” (i): the exact word.’ […]

  2. […] working my way back through, amending and (hopefully) developing my work on and reading of Modernist poetics and aesthetics in my doctoral thesis, over on the main thread of this blog. […]

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