Ezra Pound – Gaudier-Brezka (1916)

A “memoir” of the sculptor who worked mostly between 1912 and 1914 before heading to the Trenches, where he as killed at the age of 23. The format is strange, consisting mostly of previously published pieces (by G-B, Pound, Ford and other) on the Vorticist movement or Vorticist works. Pound also includes letters written to him and others by G-B when we has was in the Trenches. Distinguishing the editorial voice from the primary documents is often difficult, since Pound is prone to insert paraphrase and summary without warning. Can read the form of this book as one more instance of bricolage that characterizes in a different way the mode of constructivist, vorticist artwork. 

Pound repeats over and over the centrla tenets of Gaudier-Brezka’s aesthetic theory:

Sculptural feeling  is the appreciation of planes in relation.
Sculptural ability is the defining of these masses by planes.

It should be pointed out that “masses” does not have a reference in the first tenet despite the use of “these.” Determining the material of art is an ambiguous enterprise throughout.

Many themes from imagism and Vorticism are recycled in these pages.:

“Great art is a stasis.”

Lyric is poetry in which music seemingly bursts into speech, while imagism is that art in which sculpture or poetry seems to “come over into speech.”

Symbolism turns the symbol into a metonym, whereas as imagism preserves the absolute metaphor.

The image is that which presents and emotional or intellectual complex in an instant of time.
The image is not an idea, but a node or cluster through which ideas are constantly rushing.

But there is also some curious, novel stuff. For instance, his reading of his own poem “In a station at the metro” highlights (indirectly) the importance of the colon as a mode of equivalence that suppressed the distancing of simile. There is an immediacy of equivalence. 

Also, on the art market: Pound is happy that Quinn has been able to collect most of G-B’s work, so that it does not get distributed into the market, owned by people that simply wait for prices to rise. This comes right after Pound directly addresses G-B’s death. The consolidation of his work somehow compensates for his death. Relate this to Pound’s connection to an older system of patronage, etc.

The “caressable” artwork: by which he means the ability for the subject to be caressed by the work: he argues that the more it is caressed, the more its stimulating character is diminished. Relate this to the kick and the caress in Murphy.

Mentions that Hulme, as a child, would pester the local blacksmith for a piece of metal absolutely square. Just a ridiculous anecdote.

Concludes with a late essay distinguishing the satisfactions of art and the satisfactions of life. They are different, but both valuable. Art stands in opposition to the demands made of social necessity, which is inauthentic necessity imposed by powerful imbeciles. The artwork is supposed to transform that relationship between art and necessity: this is imaged in the hacking off of large pieces of rock from the stone.

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