Ezra Pound Political Essays

Pound could easily switch from his Hitlerian fantasies to a recommendation of the kind of artists (Joyce, Marinetti) that the Führer would have classed as “degenerate.” In his mind, the sharp lines of modernism seem to have been equated or even interchangeable with the totalitarian politics of Nazi Fascism.

This balancing of diverse political and esthetic drives was a project with which both Marinetti and Pound were involved.

Inscrits dans le cadre de la théorie poundienne du « détail lumineux », les faits historiques sont placés sous le signe d’un grand récit idiosyncrasique qui ressort d’une politique de l’esthétique, au sens où l’entend Jacques Rancière, mais aussi en droite ligne des réflexions de Walter Benjamin sur les utilisations politiques de l’esthétique.

Par la comparaison entre , cet article envisage la possibilité d’une fascination poudienne extrêmement risquée pour une vision esthétisante de la politique, qui couple la conception de l’État et la construction du poème, en vertu d’exigences similaires de beauté et d’élégance esthétique, aux dépens des impératifs éthiques.

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.

This judgment, which has acquired the status of a truism, is rarely discussed in any detail, yet it hides a variety of problems.

First, the quote comes from Benjamin's essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” the title of which refers to visual art: paintings, sculpture, architecture, theatre, and film.

(Barnes, 32)Yet in what can be seen as Pound’s politics of aesthetics, the text does not so much convey and enforce its theoretical, potentially self-reflective, presuppositions, as it signals the necessary political significance of any text, the ideological dimension of every choice presiding over its production, and the consequent relations that link together texts and figures of varying times and heterogeneous origins, under the sign of an assumed kinship in aesthetics and in politics.

This moves beyond, and virtually diverts the Benjaminian analysis of Fascism as the aestheticization of politics, which Benjamin evokes in “The Work of Art in the Age of its Mechanical Reproduction,” since his argument points mostly at the developments in mass culture.


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