Ezra Pound is well-known for having been two things which seem irreconcilable; he was both an experimental, cosmopolitan artist who shaped Anglo-American modern poetry as we know it today, and a virulent Fascist anti-Semite. While these two faces of Pound have been the subject of volumes of scholarship, what is often overlooked is his enthusiasm for other cultures: his appropriation of the Chinese written word – known as an “ideogram”, formed the basis of a new poetics that he came to call the “ideogramic method”. It was with the principles of this formal method that he composed his Cantos, numerous works of criticism, and translations of classical Chinese philosophy. What is particularly due for close study is how his “ideogramic method” brings these apparently irreconcilable facets of him – both his aesthetics and his Fascist politics, together. My paper will focus on the ideogram as a meeting point for modern aesthetics and Fascist ideology. I argue, through selections from his translations of Confucian texts, as well as his Cantos, that the Poundian ideogram is not unmotivated or neutral, and that the controversy of his ideogram goes beyond simple linguistic error. To adequately understand the significance of Pound’s ideogram, we need to study it as a site on which poetry, transcultural appropriation and Fascist ideology, overlap. Though it may seem that Pound’s involvement with Fascism came to an end with his death, his legacy has shaped various Neo-Fascist movements today. The Italian right-wing extremists CasaPound, the European ‘New Right’, and white nationalist neo-Nazis all explicitly declare their debt to him. To study the relationship between Pound’s aesthetics and his politics then, is also a way of understanding where, and how, the right-wing extremism of our present scene is rooted.
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