Monday, December 2, 2013

The New Freewoman, November 15 1913

This issue of The New Freewoman has some excellent moments, especially stemming from a small feud between Dora Marsden and a correspondent, Benjamin R. Tucker. Marsden happily quotes a letter from a bewildered Midwestern American woman, who delightfuly calls TNF "so post-everything." Throw that into the debate about what is postmodern! In responding to Tucker's criticism that TNF is "pure nonsense, unanswerable because intangible," Marsden makes a pretty nice point about the emptiness of linguistic signs, and refers back to the correspondant:

 "We are not post-anything by intention," a lovely ambiguity. She goes on to explain: "The use of ideas should be strongly discouraged... In thinking, they have no true place. Their use corresponds to that of incantations in science. They are made up of misty thought-waste, confusions too entangled to be disentangled; bound together and made to look tidy by attaching an appellation-label, i.e. a sign. It is the tidiness of the sign which misleads. It is like a marmalade label carefully attached to an empty jar. Remove the label, and confusion vanishes: we see the empty jar, we see the printed label, and we know there is no marmalade. And so with abstract terms and ideas. Consider liberty--we have already considered it." Tucker's arguments are about the definition of anarchy or communism or private property, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to this meta-argument: that the terms he uses are empty.  

Allen Upward's translations from Confucius continue, including this gem that must have attracted the once-and-future Pound:

"The subjects on which the Master did not talk were,

—marvels, feats of strength, treasons, and spirits."

Pound contributes a very positive  review of Upward's book The Divine Mystery, which seems like a sort of Golden Bough style anthropology of religion. Pound also continues "The Serious Artist," interestingly rejecting the term "connoisseur" to instead "restore the foppish term dilettante," because a dilettante "has no axe to grind." Intriguingly, he explains that the definition of great art is inherently subjective, that "One knows fairly well what one means" by the term great art, and that "One means something quite different at different times in one's life." This is followed up with admission of the place of personality in criticism: "It is for some such reason that all criticism should be professionally personal criticism." The professionally personal, what a great phrase to describe EP's persona in the magazines circa 1913. This personality is a liberation, and a sign of respect for the "heritage." Lots of stuff about "race heritage" floating around the magazines these days, I wonder what it's about.

John Cournos, who I remember from reading about H.D.'s life (love quadrangle, I think I recall? Lopsided love quadrangle?), contributes an interesting essay about cubism and mannerism/impressionism, in which he goes first to the Dore show of cubist art and then the Grafton of historical art. When he gets to the Grafton gallery, he agrees with a personal bias of my own for El Greco by claiming that El Greco is a "modern." More to the point, he's skeptical of cubism.

Henry Meulen, a Fabian, explains that the government should allow banks to issue transferrable notes because the govt. monopoly on currency leads to a lack of trust. Because everyone trusts their bankers.

All for now...

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