Saturday, June 1, 2013

The New Age, May 29 1913

The gem of this issue is Ezra Pound's continuing piece on the state of the American system of higher education.  He calls for what sounds a lot like an MFA program to be established in New York City, and it sounds really great.  The biggest difference being that one's tenure in the program would be based on artistic performance--I haven't heard of anyone being expelled from an MFA for writing bad poetry.  But then, what is bad poetry?  E.P. calls (predictably) for originality and knowledge of contemporary art to be the primary qualifications for entrance into the "super college" of 100 multimedia artists.  Also intriguing is the idea of having great artists brought in to "abuse the bad work of the fellows of the college, or to commend it on such rare occasions that any of it seemed worthy of commendation."  So, the art college isn't just about quality, after all.  There's a paradox between wanting artists to feel more comfortable (with a salary) and wanting them to be under pressure to produce good work.  At the end, he writes that this is not "a passing fancy of the hour."  The Ezuversity in embryo? 

Also in Pound-related news (circa 1913): Orage reviews a translation of Japanese NO (sic) plays, by Dr. Marie Stopes, a badass writer, translator, poet, women's rights activist, and paleobotanist.  The book is available here.   Pound's translations of the Noh plays (from Ernst Fenollosa's notebooks) are favorites of mine--I'm going to try to find a play he translated in Stopes and compare it to his version.  A quick hop to JSTOR led to this tantalizing tidbit in an article by Roy E. Teele in Contemporary Literature: "Stopes wrote to friends of [Pound's] delight in the materials he had found in Ernst Fenollosa's manuscripts" (346).  I'm going to do some follow-up work, will report anything cool I find.  The New Age's thesis about the plays would have piqued Pound's interest: that the reason the plays seem odd is because they have a subtle, aristocratic morality: "unless you're on the level of the author, you miss everything--as you deserve to do."  Sound familiar? 

Of a more personal interest, right next to the NO plays is a review of a Maeterlinck play about Mary Magdalene.  A negative review.  It points readers to the source: Mead's translation of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene.  This intrigues me, because Mead's translation was mostly off the radar until the Nag Hammadi codex sparked interest in all things Gnostic.  I've been curious for a long time about H.D.'s sources for the gnostic elements in Trilogy, especially the ways her poem seems to quote lines that were only dug out of the desert years after the poem was finished.  Maybe Mead has the answers--and the close proximity to Pound gives a logical path-of-influence.

I love reading this way, but I worry that a Poundian proper would be able to point to all my little discoveries having been made before...

The New Age complains about all the other little magazines that are coming out... ha.  They run down The New Freewoman before it has even printed its first issue!  I'll look forward to that issue, coming out in two weeks 100 years ago.  I'm also really glad it's starting during the summer-of-exam-reading, and thankful for my advisors who have allowed me to make this project part of my PhD exam list. 

Lastly, at least The New Age has the decency to print the feminist counter-attacks to their misogyny.  Very reasonable, very angry letters to the editor--and they seem more on the right side of history.  This actually ties back to Stopes a little, because there was a whiff of misogyny in the review of her book.  J. M. Kennedy writes a passionate rebuttal of the idea that women-intellectuals are somehow subpar. 

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