Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Image in Imagism was originally, for Pound, HD and DH Lawrence, not a literary device or movement in artistic fashion but “a luminous event in language.” Its roots lay in Gnostic and Neoplatonic thinking, reaching for a Reality that is “cosmic and spiritual.” “The very movement of the line might be a magic then, theurgic in its intent…” (49)--not expressive, but efficacious. The extreme economy, formulated in Pound’s “A Few Don’ts” as “to use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation,” was to so tense the writing that “reverberations of these presences might be heard.” As the image emerges the art work takes on life, becomes both work and person. It directs and uses the artist, who thus becomes “creature of the form he thought at first to achieve.”

Just as there are certain events in actual life that are so charged with the information of a content that is to be realized in the maturation of the soul or form of the total lifetime, and as there are certain dreams that flood our active consciousness with the forms of unconscious, as yet unborn, facts of our identity, so, for the poet, there are poems that are prophetic of a poetry that is to be realized only in the fullness of the poet’s life…” (52)


I cannot separate the poem from its operation as prophecy or prayer in the shaping of my own life, the efficacy of the poem to awaken depths in me. The key lies in a rhetoric which is magic in its intent and not literary. (54)

We know that in 1946, at the writing group that met at 2029 Hearst in Berkeley, Duncan went into public trance, “setting up a table where I proposed in ten consecutive nights to receive ten consecutive visions that were also messages in Poetry.” (Janot bio p. 104) Tarot cards, crystal balls and other forms of divination were also in evidence at those meetings. (ibid.)  These sessions of overt magical practice produced not only material for Duncan’s book Medieval Scenes, but also laid the foundation for the predominantly “serial” form of all Blaser and Spicer’s mature poetry, and marked the beginning of the Berkeley Renaissance in general. Spicer’s seminal 1956 workshop at the San Francisco Public Library was entitled “Poetry as Magic.” And in the proposition of a engagement with a living being or spirit brought into being by participating in the creation of a work of art we can hear intimations of the “Martians” of Spicer’s 1965 Vancouver Lectures.


Post a Comment

<< Home