While in American custody after the war, Pound wrote "The Pisan Cantos," an elegiac and in spots anti-Semitic work -- "the yidd is a stimulant, and the goyim are cattle / ... and go to saleable slaughter / with the maximum of docility." Harvard English professor Louis Menand has called "The Pisan Cantos" "a Fascist poem without apologies."Read the whole thing. Let me say upfront that I am not a fan of censorship. The ability to freely traffic in ideas, to evaluate and examine all sorts of beliefs running from silly to stupid to simply strange, is an extremely important thing. But it's hard to deny Clement Greenberg's assertion than an artist or author's integrity matters. After all, poems and books don't arise out of the void; they come from people and bear the stamp of their internal attitudes. By all means, let us avoid censorship originating in centralized governments. That way lieth all sorts of injustice. But when an offensive individual's efforts don't receive a warm welcome in the marketplace, let's not raise a hue and cry, as though artistic freedom itself were at stake. Letting some works live and others die is a market's job.
In 1948, the Committee of the Fellows of the Library of Congress -- which included such luminaries as W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot and Robert Lowell -- gave Pound the prestigious Bollingen Prize for "The Pisan Cantos." The decision sparked widespread anger. ...
Out of the debate came this clarifying statement by the art critic Clement Greenberg: "I am sick of the…art-silliness which condones almost any moral or intellectual failing on the artist's part as long as he is or seems a successful artist. It is still justifiable to demand that he be a successful human being before anything else, even if at the cost of his art."
(Picture: CC 2008 by kjd)