Pound's 'sumbainai': Coherence and incoherence in "The Cantos"
My dissertation discusses the theoretical dispute over coherence and incoherence in The Cantos by analysing Pound's use of the ideogrammic method and the visual art allusions in the poem. I analyse the ideogrammic method and some modern developments, such as cubism, cinematic montage and linguistics. Even though Pound's intention was to enact the ideogrammic method in his Cantos, as he approaches the Pisan Cantos the poet seems unable to pursue his quest; after this sequence the poem seems to crumble. The foundation of the poem turns more undecidable, and closer to the concept of 'mise en abyme.' In the ideogram the relation of two things creates a new concept, a synthesis; in 'mise en abyme,' however, the juxtaposition of two fragments does not produce a new concept, but more disjunctions. In 'mise en abyme' an image is reflected in a mirror, and then another mirror, 'ad infinitum,' as in the painting Las Meninas, by Velazquez In Chapter One I discuss the concepts of closure and coherence and the ideogrammic method In Chapter Two I test my theory of coherence in the ideogrammic method and analyse some Pisan Cantos that I consider modal points in the poem In Chapter Three I compare the technique of some paintings alluded to in the poem with the technique of the poem itself. Though Pound's writings show his preference for the Vorticists, his technique seems to reflect the fragmentation of the Cubists, and the 'aporia' of Velazquez's 'mise en abyme' in Las Hilanderas and Las Meninas I conclude that Pound is a true representative of the modern temper, but that he becomes a weaver, a precursor of the Postmodern era, as his text is fragmentary, highly allusive, non-closural, palimpsestic and so unstable that the poet himself, like Arachne in the myth, is unable to stop weaving his web. Pound's search for order actually appears to be related to the etymology of this word, since 'ordiri' means to begin a web or to prepare to weave a continuous web