Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Egoist, April 1915

The Egoist in April, 1915:

Marianne Moore makes her Egoist debut, with her poems appearing just after those of a forgotten modernist, Richard Butler Glaenzer--who has the tragic fate of not yet having a wikipedia page. His poems are cool, though. More on that in a second, after more on Moore's two short poems.

The first is dedicated to Gordon Craig, modernist director:

I can almost see the last line as the very very first draft of her much-drafted poem "Poetry." Note the careful rhymes, the way that meaning enjambs from line to line, the very-slant rhymes of "wake" and "retrospect." It's very interesting that the dedication is part of the first line. This poem makes me think of my late teacher, Herb Blau, who I wish I could show this to--I have a feeling he would have identified with Moore's portrait of Craig.

The second poem, "To the Soul of 'Progress,'" doesn't fit neatly on to a page and would look kind of weird on the blog here, but it is certainly worth a look in the pdf of the journal. On the level of content (or discontent), the poem is about how war can emerge from the desire for progress. It fits perfectly with the Egoist's skepticism. It also has an extremely tight and unusual rhyme scheme, a prevision of "The Fish." She seems to be channeling Yeats in a certain stanza that contains clapping wings and a tumult...

Returning to Glaenzer: his poems are about his hatred of cities, contrasted Imagistically with his love of Bermuda--and then, there's also a poem about an Antoinette. His poems are powered more by raw Whitmano-Futurist energy than intricacies, but I noticed that they are attempting to fuse that kind of dynamism with imagist technique, which feels odd in the context of how imagism is understood retrospect-ively, but actually makes a lot of sense in following the journals.

Huntley Carter contributes a piece that has a few interesting points--titled "The Curve of Individualism," it contains several points that are made stridently, then hedged back, so take this summary with its own hedging. First, he claims that Futurist art predicted the war. Then he explains that their art reveals the fundamental inequality of humans, and Carter postulates that one could create a chart in which "the height of the curve above the base line will represent the varying value of human beings" (59). He jumps from this to review Theodore A. Cook's The Curves of Life, which finds that the perfect spiral is that basis for biology and art, a claim Carter appreciates but qualifies with Cook's own "nothing which is alive is ever simply mathematical." This might mitigate the brutality of charting human worth somewhat? Maybe? Because he comes to a philosophy of difference:

"Advance (progress we call it) resides in differences freely expressed. If human beings are to move significantly in any direction they must not be tied up in inseparable bundles, called groups, guilds, and communities. Each must belong wholly to himself or herself. Each must be free to feel, act and choose a path of his or her own. The social or artificial restraint of differences in human beings is slowly but inevitably making for the destruction of the human soul" (60).

Note the pointed critique of The New Age's Guild Socialism.

So much more to do, but I will stop here for today after my customary

Quick Notes:

Marsden continues "Truth and Reality," and it is amazing. Too much to review on a blog, I will hopefully be devoting a chapter of my dissertation to Marsden. For now, this nugget: "The two terms 'real' and 'Reality' are very near to being the expression of opposites: real—the sign attached to a thing whose potentialities have been proved to be like to another's, and Reality—the name of a nominal " something " which has never yet existed and which, should '"it " ever achieve existence, would become degraded into Appearance and thereby cease to be part of Reality" (51). 

Richard Aldington contributes an essay on "Decadence and Dynamism" which in turn continues his own literary researches. He finds that most new art can be considered either decadent or dynamic, and that investigating the decadent, one finds that dynamism is merely intensified decadence. He reads Huysmans' A Rebors to make most of his points, and is probably one of few people who read enough obscure Latin to pronounce judgment on Des Esseintes' classical criticism (Aldington thinks it is brilliant).

Portrait continues...

Frank Denver reviews a modernist art show, praises Epstein, and declares that there isn't much good art around in those days.

"Fighting Paris" declares that it will return to its old title, "Passing Paris," as things are back to normal in the capital. I wonder if that will stick.

That's all for now...

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