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  1. Marvin
    Marvin February 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm . Reply

    Grey-eyed Athena help me, but I went out and bought a copy of this thing. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with you — where poetry is concerned I’m a complete naif — but I think I’ll enjoy the attempt.

    At dinner tonight Sturdy Helpmeet and I were discussing your idea of poet as necromancer, and since we’re caught up in the Republican political season here in the US we saw obvious parallels to politics: Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rich Santorum raising the dead with rhetorical magic and making them bear false witness against the past, the better to control the future. (Mitt Romney doesn’t quite seem to have the talent; he seems more the product of necromancy than its practitioner.)

  2. Marvin
    Marvin March 1, 2012 at 2:09 am . Reply

    I was debating with myself whether to get a companion book or to rely on Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg to get me through classical and obscure references. For me the big handicap will be not knowing when I don’t know that there’s something to be known (say that three times fast) but that’s why you do multiple readings.

    As for political necromancy: I think we need some kind of Dungeon Master’s Guide to the art. It could take the cultural and sociological observations of people like McLuhan, Chomsky, and others and translate them into pop-culture friendly tropes. Lying about the beliefs and ambitions of your forefathers in order to mobilize them as proponents for your cause could be compared to necromancy; baffling with bullshit could fall in the category of charm and glamor spells; and telling the truth in an inspiring and motivating way could be compared to some kind of white magic that I can’t think of a name for because who ever bothers to write cool stories about things that aren’t necromancy?

  3. Marvin
    Marvin March 1, 2012 at 5:39 am . Reply

    I checked out the Companion in Google Books. It looks mighty, mighty useful.

    Interesting point about necromancy getting a bad rap. I suppose I’m in the habit of associating the term with Sauron, zombies, Faustian bargains, and the like, but it could equally well apply to intercessory prayer directed at the saints or propitiation of the ancestors (generally considered beneficent activities by the people who do them), or, indeed, summoning up the shade of Tiresias in order to ask some practical advice. In Christianity we’re accustomed to dividing the dead into the saved, who are really something more and better than “alive” in the ordinary sense, and the damned, who must be regarded as evil and untrustworthy and whose cooperation can be bought only by means of some ghoulish self-damning act of one’s own.

    But but there’s no reason to be stuck in that paradigm, and the idea of “white necromancy” is intriguing. Suddenly I’m flashing back to Grim Fandango. =)

  4. Marvin
    Marvin March 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm . Reply

    OK, Terrell is on order. After five cantos I decided I wasn’t so much reading the poems as pronouncing them.

    On necromancy: do you ever read Order of the Stick? It recently had one of the most intelligent — albeit brutal and traditional — treatments of necromancy and the undead that I’ve seen in a while.

    On necromancy #2: could any attempt to make the dead speak, as it were, even through history and anthropology and archaeology, be seen as a kind of necromancy? I find myself wondering if the kind of modernist literature that tries encapsulate the human condition through constant and wide-ranging allusions to classical and mythological culture — Pound, Joyce, Jung, Campbell, Mann, even Nietzsche, and any humanist scholar who attempted to resurrect classical learning as a counterpoint to Christian cultural hegemony — can be classified as necromancy? (I can easily see people obsessed with the past being accused of necrophilia, for instance.) Perhaps that’s really what you’re driving at by making Pound an occult figure.

    And past-obsessed necrophilia is certainly not hard to come by; the world’s full of people more enchanted by dead kings and poets than by their living and breathing neighbors. Maybe the whole cliche about how the “good old days” were better than the current degenerates running around constitutes the first step towards necromancy.

  5. Marvin
    Marvin March 10, 2012 at 6:01 am . Reply

    The Terrell has arrived! If anything it looks more daunting than the Cantos, but most of it appears to be in English, at least.

    You may be right about the greater intimacy of the poetic voice (compared to history and archaeology and other academic pursuits concerned with the past), but thinking of Pound (as I’ve seen him described so far by you & others) reminds me of American Southern culture, and people (like Robert E. Howard, come to think of it) for whom the study of history and classics and associated academic disciplines is deeply tied to a kind of cultural self-image that obsessed with superiority — sometimes racial superiority — and a resentful sense that one belongs to a faded aristocracy that has been unjustly deprived of its rightful place. Diving into history in a certain way becomes a means of reasserting and resurrecting a lost past, and of making an alternate present.

  6. Marvin
    Marvin March 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm . Reply

    A year and a half ago my sister and I sat around with some cousins and compared notes about (among other things) growing up with a grandmother who clearly wanted her children and grandchildren to know that they were a certain kind of people, and the world would recognize it. In the South I recognize the symptoms of Lost Cause-ism, antebellum nostalgia, Walter Scott-ism…I’m not sure what I’d call it for a New Englander like Lovecraft, but I agree that he has his share of it, whatever it is. (Come to think of it, though, Lost Cause nostalgia was devoured heavily by the Union states during Lovecraft’s formative years…) I’m not surprised to find it in a midwesterner like Pound, since so much of the midwest was colonized by people with the same dreams and nostalgias and prejudices.

    And I knew about Alberta’s cowboy culture but never really thought much about the idea that it too might have it’s modes of “alternate present.” I suddenly have images of a whole new kind of cowpunk in my head.

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