BK. Ezra Pound

87. ‘Affirmations VI: The “Image” and the Japanese Classical Stage (1915)’. Princeton University Library Chronicle 53/1 (1991): 17-22.

In 1915 Pound published a series of essays entitled ‘Affirmations’ in New Age (see 14 and 16). This work was apparently intended as part of the series, but instead a different essay, ‘Affirmations VI: Analysis of This Decade’ appeared (February 1915), and this work did not see print until it was discovered among the Fenollosa/Pound nô papers donated to Princeton University in 1991 (see 193). Pound explores here more fully than elsewhere an idea he turned to at other key junctures in the early years of the century (see 12, 17f, 112, 161, and 165), that the nô is ‘in many cases . . . built “out of the image”’, and thus provides guidance for a way to approach a ‘long imagiste poem’: ‘Working from day to day upon professor Fenollosa’s manuscripts’, he writes, ‘I am more and more led to believe that the difference between East and West is largely a difference in the nature of their “categories”’, for while the European ‘thinks by “ideas”’, the Japanese artists think by ‘images’; he cites Nishikigi (8) and Hajitomi [Hashitomi] (see 90b) in example of plays organised around a ‘succession of images’, and insists that Europeans are ‘still so bound by Aristotle and Aquinas that we cannot accept other sorts of categories’, yet the kind of ‘thought’ (or ‘colour sensitiveness’ or ‘accurate sense of “pitch”’) to be found in the nô is a ‘form of perception . . . just as precise, for those who possess it, as . . . the scientist’s statement that twelve inches make one third of a yard’. Includes passing comment that Yeats (‘who is [the] English synonym for all sorts of vagueness’) has found some of the nô material ‘not clear and definite’. The essay is followed here by a facsimile reproduction of the typescript with Pound’s corrections.





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