Make it NEW




"The artist is always beginning," Ezra Pound once wrote. "Any work of art which is not a beginning, an invention, a discovery is of little worth. The very name Troubadour means a 'finder,' one who discovers." Readers of Poems and Translations will be able to follow, for the first time in a single volume, a poet whose career moves through a series of beginnings and re-beginnings—perhaps Pound's most distinctively American trait.

In his first published book of poems, A Lume Spento, the Pound of 1908 is still very much a late nineteenth-century poet, steeped in the archaisms of the Pre-Raphaelites. A mere four years later, in Ripostes, he has reinvented himself as a modernist proponent of "Imagism," before moving on, in rapid succession, to the avant-garde aesthetics of Vorticism and translations from the Chinese (Cathay), the Japanese ("Noh" or Accomplishment), the Provençal (Arnaut Daniel), and the Latin ("Homage to Sextus Propertius"). Each of these forays into new identities and new languages constituted, as Pound himself explained, a "search for oneself," which entailed "casting off complete masks of the self in each poem."

The title Pound chose for the first comprehensive collection of his shorter poems in 1926 was, significantly, Personae—Latin for "masks." Whether writing in the form of Browningesque dramatic monologues, medieval canzoni, satirical epigrams, Confucian analects, or Sophoclean tragic choruses, Pound in his poems presents us with a medley of masks whose multiple and contradictory features helped shape the face of American poetry in the 20th century.

In his dedication of The Waste Land, T. S. Eliot paid homage to Ezra Pound as "il miglior fabbro"—that is, "the better craftsman"—Dante's term for the Troubadour poet Arnaut Daniel. Pound remains a vital ancestral presence in the lineage of American modernist and post-modernist poetry. The list of his descendants includes not only William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Louis Zukofsky, George Oppen, and Charles Olson, but also the Beats and, more recently, the Language Poets—all of whom in their own fashion learned their craft from his work while observing his central imperative: "Make it new."
—Richard Sieburth

Jacob Applebaum fights turnkey tyranny with new light


Fenollosa Pound Olson and the Chinese written character

"The first was Ernest Fenollosa's provocative essay 'The Chinese Wriiten Character as a Medium for Poetry.' He found the Pound-edited text of the essay in the latter's book Instigations and excitedly copied out its main arguments into his notebook that June. Fenollosa's account of the exhaustion of poetic qualities in modern discourse resulting from a degeneration of the original capacity of language to mime the physical processes, and his implicit advocacy of a return to the state of primal verbal immediacy, with words once again becoming instrumental to the creation of 'a vivid shorthand picture of the operations of nature,' held for Olson the same appeal it had for Pound before him.--Tom Clark, Charles Olson: The Allegory of a Poet's Life. pg. 103.


The Mohawk Club

Mohawk Artwork by CHU www.schudio.co.uk


The Mohawk Club

to gothamsterdam
city clouds curl
like hair parting
to reveal grey root

platinum breaking
through air
to reveal silver
streaking down

solid rays bouncing
off the puddles
street amber
tiger lightning
shattered glass
that stinky moon
eclipsed by rolling
snatching the eye

cracked street light
the car lamp &
reefer torch
burning the other
out in the night a red
streak of light
designates the
club: Mohawk

pot smoke blows
from tangled with jazz
steam seeping out

skidoobie blam
from the doorway
a rocket launch site
wings flap n’ flutter
new squawrk

bop music lifting up
up up town up
escape into air

buildings nearby
sway loose from their
footing notes
and rise up again
steamin’ with gargoyles
they break loose to the
beat away from the grey
concrete holds

sprouting feathers
bright green &
toucan yellow
big chief pink & gold

gracefully leaping off
into dark skies
looping like Monk

tiny pieces of the city
pulled away in the night
inside the club
it’s hip under hazy
lemon light
the honey-bop drips
juss’ keep on jumpin

leap frog kangaroos
peeps jiggin’ &
movin’ so hard
the floor boards
wriggle loose
bop bop

blam boom
doors & windows
poppin’ in their
frames musical
flames lap ears of
harlem cats

wreckin the joint
the wooden stage
an amplifier
be-bop battery power
surrounded by schmaze
of musical mojos

the club a
living moseum
exotic objects
resonate to music
the players play
a seemingly ad-hoc
collection of artefacts
from africa india asia
the Caribbean
the americas
& Indonesia
crammed into

one room covering every
inch of wall space
a pink mardi gras
Indian head dress
five pots of Robert Johnson
snake oil
perch on the shelf

several rusty
saxophones hooked
over water pipes
like docked space craft

a bunged-up
silver tuba
hunches behind the bar
a mirrored ice bucket

two trombones
hang from shark teeth
trumpets & clarinets
double as flower vases
on turntable tables

a native indian
looms large
like jupiter behind
the stage
shells beads belts
& wires hang from
all quarters snaking the
original sheet music
portraits of jazz masters
handmade flyers hang
behind smoke tinted
glass in various
frames crooked &
dusty books
embroidered with shells
& reeds
guitar picks crocodile
teeth piano
keys ostrich feathers
& white buffalo hair

to the left a
double bass pulses
like a whale heart
spitting out notes
from its huge
bass-clef gut

swinging around a
spike-axis firmly rooted
into the ‘C’ flatted floor
a human ear
shaped instrument

a bulging be-bop
swaying to the up
tempo uptown music

the horse chestnut
upright has viper tooth
tuning fangs
atop its snake
head head head

a hybrid trap kit
sits centre stage
kick oil drum
catch the beat

get hi
hat stand from old
gun barrels
hi-hat cymbals from turkey
crash china symbols
viper head sticks
& mohawk punk

to the right
of stage the turn
tables sit atop
a grand piano
the dj rig
includes a raven
headed diamond
tipped stylus

recycled confederate
gun surplus
a tomahawk mixer
dreams of vinyl
records nailed to walls
nicotine patches
where some were
pulled down
& played and never

beside turntables
a small glockenspiel
silver bullet keys
split the eye in two

a microphone
stand of gun parts
mixed with
three tomahawks

some guitar strings
peppered with bright
& sea shells
the microphone

a shaved viper head
with a mohawk
its tail wiggling off
toward the sound

who or what is going
to take stage here
tonight in this
shrine to creativity

here underground
in gothamsterdam
just after 4:20
in the morning
--Steve Fly
08/13 Amsterdam,
Edited 13/12/13.


All powers of Europe

For my part thought that Americans
Had been embroiled in European wars long enough
Easy to see that
France and England wd/ try to embroil us Obvious
that all powers of Europe will be continually at manoeuvre
to work us into their real or imaginary balances
of power; J.A 1782 FISHERIES.--Ezra Pound, Canto LXV. Pg 377.

J.A = John Adams


Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry (1958)

Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry (1958)
Augusto de Campos, Decio Pignatari, Haroldo de Campos: Brazil

From Concrete Poetry: A World View, 1968, ed Mary Ellen Solt

Haroldo de Campos in UbuWeb Historical
Augusto de Campos in UbuWeb Historical
Decio Pignatari in UbuWeb Historical
"Concrete Poetry: A World View : Brazil" in UbuWeb Papers
"The Imperative of Invention..." Charles A. Perrone
"Interview with Augusto de Campos" Roland Greene
"The Concrete Historical" Roland Greene
Sérgio Bessa "Architecture Versus Sound in Concrete Poetry"
"Speaking About Genre: the Case of Concrete Poetry" Victoria Pineda
"From (Command) Line to (Iconic) Constellation", Kenneth Goldsmith

Concrete Poetry: product of a critical evolution of forms. Assuming that the historical cycle of verse (as formal-rhythmical unit) is closed, concrete poetry begins by being aware of graphic space as structural agent. Qualified space: space-time structure instead of mere linear-temporistical development. Hence the importance of ideogram concept, either in its general sense of spatial or visual syntax, or in its special sense (Fenollosa/ Pound) of method of composition based on direct-analogical, not logical-discursive juxtaposition of elements. "ll faut que notre intelligence s’habitue à comprendre synthético-idéographiquement au lieu de analytico -discursivement" (Apollinaire). Elsenstein: ideogram and montage.

Forerunners: Mallarmé (Un coup de dés, 1897): the first qualitative jump: "subdivisions prismatiques de l’idée"; space ("blancs") and typographical devices as substantive elements of composition. Pound (The Cantos); ideogramic method.
Joyce (Ulysses and Finnegans Wake): word-ideogram; organic interpenetration of time and space. Cummings: atomization of words, physiognomical typography; expressionistic emphasis on space. Apollinaire (Calligrammes): the vision, rather than the praxis. Futurism, Dadaism: contributions to the life of the problem. In Brazil: Oswald de Andrade (1890-1954): "in pills, minutes of poetry. João Cabral de Melo Neto (born 1920—The Engineer and The Psychology of Composition plus Anti-Ode): direct speech, economy and functional architecture of verse.

Concrete Poetry: tension of things-words in space-time. Dynamic structure: multiplicity of concomitant movements. So in music-by, definition, a time art-space intervenes (Webern and his followers: Boulez and Stockhausen; concrete and electronic music); in visual arts-spatial, by definition-time intervenes (Mondrian and his Boogie-Woogie series; Max Bill; Albers and perceptive ambivalence; concrete art in general).

Ideogram: appeal to nonverbal communication. Concrete poem communicates its own structure: structure-content. Concrete poem is an object in and by itself, not an interpreter of exterior objects and/ or more or less subjective feelings. Its material word (sound, visual form, semantical charge). Its problem: a problem of functions-relations of this material.

Factors of proximity and similitude, gestalt psychology. Rhythm: relational force. Concrete poem, by using the phonetical system (digits) and analogical syntax, creates a specific linguistical area-"verbivocovisual" -which shares the advantages of nonverbal communication, without giving up word's virtualities. With the concrete poem occurs the phenomenon of metacommunication: coincidence and simultaneity of verbal and nonverbal communication; only-it must be noted-it deals with a communication of forms, of a structure-content, not with the usual message communication.

Concrete Poetry aims at the least common multiple of language. Hence its tendency to nounising and verbification. "The concrete wherewithal of speech" (Sapir). Hence its affinities with the so-called isolating languages (Chinese): "The less outward grammar the Chinese language possesses, the more inner grammar inherent in it" (Humboldt via Cassirer). Chinese offers an example of pure relational syntax, based exclusively on word order (see Fenollosa, Sapir and Cassirer).

The conflict form-subject looking for identification, we call isomorphism. Parallel to form-subject isomorphism, there is a space-time isomorphisin, which creates movement. In a first moment of concrete poetry pragmatics, isomorphism tends to physiognomy, that is a movement imitating natural appearance (motion); organic form and phenomenology of composition prevail. In a more advanced stage, isomorphism tends to resolve itself into pure structural movement (movement properly said); at this phase, geometric form and mathematics of composition (sensible rationalism) prevail.

Renouncing the struggle for "absolute," Concrete Poetry remains in the magnetic field of perennial relativeness. Chronomicro-metering of hazard. Control. Cybernetics. The poem as a mechanism regulating itself: feed-back. Faster communication (problems of functionality and structure implied) endows the poem with a positive value and guides its own making.

Concrete Poetry: total responsibility before language. Thorough realism. Against a poetry of expression, subjective and hedonistic. To create precise problems and to solve them in terms of sensible language. A general art of the word. The poem-product: useful object.

Note: Original printed without capitals. The "Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry" presents a synthesis of the theoretical writings of the Noigandres group from 1950-58. The critical writings and manifestos of Augusto de Campos, Décio Pignatari and Haroldo de Campos have been collected in a volume: Teoria da Poesia Concreta, Textos Críticos e Manifestos 1950-1960, Sao Paulo, Ediçãoes Invenção, 1965.
Translated by the authors.

(From Noigandres 4)



Letter to Harold Innis from McLuhan, 14th March 1951.

Within the small and obscure field of those who follow the tale of the tribe, as defined by Robert Anton Wilson will probably already be familiar with this letter by Marshall McLuhan, to Harold Innis.

In the letter McLuhan more or less drafts the trajectory RAW expands upon, with the addition of Giordano Bruno, Alfred Korzybski, Nietzsche, Claude Shannon and Orson Welles, RAW weaves a landscape of, dare i say, cybernetic post modernism?

Internet...probably the greatest catalyst, tool, for the evolution of language and human-language interfacing. And so, 12/13 historical characters are selected by RAW to approximate the innovations that took place to bring us here, and the human biographical tales crisscrossing with the design science revolutions and new styles. RAWs tale of the tribe.

Here is that letter that helped start it all, in some sense.

--steve fly 

Letter to Harold Adams Innis
Toronto, 14th March 1951

Dear Innis,
Thanks for the lecture re-print. This makes an opportunity for me to mention my interest in the work you are doing in communication study in general. I think there are lines appearing in Empire and Communications, for example, which suggest the possibility of organizing an entire school of studies. Many of the ancient language theories of the Logos type which you cite for their bearings on government and society have recurred and amalgamated themselves today under the auspices of anthropology and social psychology. Working concepts of “collective consciousness” in advertising agencies have in turn given salience and practical effectiveness to these “magical” notions of language.
But it was most of all the esthetic discoveries of the symbolists since Rimbaud and Mallarmé (developed in English by Joyce, Eliot, Pound, Lewis and Yeats) which have served to recreate in contemporary consciousness an awareness of the potencies of language such as the Western world has not experienced in 1800 years..

Mallarmé saw the modern press as a magical institution born of technology. The discontinuous juxtaposition of unrelated items made necessary by the influx of news stories from every quarter of the world, created, he saw, a symbolic landscape of great power and importance. (He used the word “symbol” in the strict Greek sense sym-ballein, to pitch together, physically and musically). He saw at once that the modern press was not a rational form but a magical one so far as communication was concerned. Its very technological form was bound to be efficacious far beyond any informative purpose. Politics were becoming musical, jazzy, magical.

The same symbolist perception applied to cinema showed that the montage of images was basically a return via technology to age-old picture language. S. Eisenstein’s Film Forum and Film Technique explore the relations between modern developments in the arts and Chinese ideogram, pointing to the common basis of ideogram in modern art, science and technology.

One major discovery of the symbolists which had the greatest importance for subsequent investigation was their notion of the learning process as a labyrinth of the senses and faculties whose retracing provided the key to all arts and sciences (basis of myth of Daedalus, basic for the dreams and schemes of Francis Bacon, and, when transferred by Vico to philology and history of culture, it also forms the basis of modern historiography, archaeology, psychology and artistic procedures alike.)

Retracing becomes in modern historical scholarship the technique of reconstruction. The technique which Edgar Poe first put to work in his detective stories. In the arts this discovery has had all those astonishing results which have seemed to separate the ordinary public from what it regards as esoteric magic. From the point of view of the artist however the business of art is no longer the communication of thoughts or feelings which are to be conceptually ordered, but a direct participation in an experience. The whole tendency of modern communication whether in the press, in advertizing, or in the high arts is toward participation in a process, rather than apprehension of concepts. And this major revolution, intimately linked to technology, is one whose consequences have not begun to be studied although they have begun to be felt.

One immediate consequence, it seems to me, has been the decline of literature. The hyper-trophy of letter-press, at once the cause and effect of universal literacy, has produced a spectacular decline of attention to the printed or written word. As you have shown in Empire and Communications, ages of literature have been few and brief in human history. The present literary epoch has been of exceptional duration — 400 years. There are many symptoms that it is at an end. The comic book for example has been seen as a degenerate literary form instead of as a nascent pictorial and dramatic form which has sprung from the new stress on visual-auditory communication in the magazines, the radio and television. The young today cannot follow narrative but they are alert to drama. They cannot bear description but they love landscape and action.

If literature is to survive as a scholastic discipline except for a very few people, it must be by a transfer of its techniques of perception and judgement to these new media. The new media, which are already much more constitutive educationally than those of the class-room, must be inspected and discussed in the class-room if the class-room is to continue at all except as a place of detention. As a teacher of literature it has long seemed to me that the functions of literature cannot be maintained in present circumstances without radical alteration of the procedures of teaching. Failure in this respect relegated Latin and Greek to the specialist; and English literature has already become a category rather than an interest in school and college.

As mechanical media have popularized and enforced the presence of the arts on all people it becomes more and more necessary to make studies of the function and effect of communication on society. Present ideas of such effects are almost entirely in terms of mounting or sagging sales curves resulting from special campaigns of commercial education. Neither the agencies nor the consumers know anything about the social or cutural effects of this education.

Deutsch’s interesting pamphlet on communication is thoroughly divorced from any sense of the social functions performed by communication. He is typical of a school likewise in his failure to study the matter in the particular. He is the technician interested in power but uncritical and unconcerned with social effect. The diagnosis of his type is best found, so far as I know, in Wyndham Lewis’s The Art of Being Ruled. That pamphlet is probably the most radical political document since Machiavelli’s Prince. But whereas Machiavelli was concerned with the use of society as raw material for the arts of power, Lewis reverses the perspective and tries to discern the human shape once more in a vast technological landscape which has been ordered on Machiavellian lines.

The fallacy in the Deutsch-Wiener approach is its failure to understand the techniques and functions of the traditional arts as the essential type of all human communication. It is instead a dialectical approach born of technology and quite unable of itself to see beyond or around technology. The Medieval schoolmen ultimately ended up on the same dialectical reef.

As Easterbrook may have told you I have been considering an experiment in communication which is to follow the lines of this letter in suggesting means of linking a variety of specialized fields by what may be called a method of esthetic analysis of their common features. This method has been used by my friend Siegfried Giedion in Space, Time and Architecture and in Mechanization Takes Command. What I have been considering is a single mimeographed sheet to be sent out weekly or fortnightly to a few dozen people in different fields, at first illustrating the underlying unities of form which exist where diversity is all that meets the eye. Then it is hoped there will be a feedback of related perception from various readers which will establish a continuous flow.

It seems obvious to me that Bloor St. is the one point in this University where one might establish a focus of the arts and sciences. And the organizing concept would naturally be “Communication Theory and practice.” A simultaneous focus of current and historic forms. Relevance to be given to selection of areas of study by dominant artistic and scientific modes of the particular period. Arts here used as providing criteria, techniques of observation, and bodies of recorded, achieved, experience. Points of departure but also return.

For example the actual techniques of common study today seem to me to be of genuine relevance to anybody who wishes to grasp the best in current poetry and music. And vice versa. There is a real, living unity in our time, as in any other, but it lies submerged under a superficial hubbub of sensation. Using Frequency Modulation techniques one can slice accurately through such interference, whereas Amplitude Modulation leaves you bouncing on all the currents.

Marshall McLuhan

from Marshall McLuhan — Complete Correspondence,
edited by Matie Molinaro & Corinne McLuhan