Monday, May 19, 2008
As part of a collaboration with artist Stephanie Taylor, I have been re-reading some of the Cantos, and tracked down a translation of the Fascist cantos (72 & 73 – Pound provided his own translation of 73, but it appears the few extant translations of 72 are just that). The censored content contains nasty examples of what Pound later referred to as that “suburban prejudice,” but also an account, apparently even more objected to, of an Italian girl who led a group of Canadian soldiers into a minefield after they raped her. Resulting in a big Hollywood-type blow-up that made Pound very happy and damned him to hell at home and in the Allied abroad. (N.b.: all previous anti-Poundian sympathy apparently has been reserved for the Canadian soldiers.) More interesting was Pound’s engagement with Marinetti in Canto 73: the ghost of the Futurist hectors the seafarer for more war, while Pound begs off on account of fatigue, and the exhaustion of belief. Pound wanted a good many things, but war did not appear to be his perferred mechanism for their achievement. But this raised another sticking point. I knew that Marinetti was a Facist’s facist, whose Partito Politico Futurista was straight away adopted by Mussolini’s Facsi di combattimento, and who later split with the Italian Fascist party because of their coddling the bourgeoise and conservativism, but who retained a soft and constant affection for the principles of fascsism as being the politics most attuned to the Futurists. But I had somehow forgotten this ethical aspect even as Marinetti’s aesthetic has been increasingly reified here at home. European conversations about Futurism include this critique; why hasn’t this been the case among the current American avant where Pound is automatically dismissed and excoriated and Marinetti vivified and applauded? It perhaps should be noted that both used similar techniques of appropriation/collage, that one breathed long where the other went short.
Labels: Vanessa Place