"Sounds like a good, cool guy until right about here"

That’s the brief note marked by the former owner of my copy of Twentieth Century American Poetics: Poets on the Art of Poetry. It appears here:

Hired to talk about literary matters, Pound could nt resist the opportunity to promulgate his political views. His broadcasts were self-indulgent and digressive to the point of incoherence, but there was no mistaking his devotion to fascism, his hatred of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his virulent anti-Semitism. (Pound’s talks were so chaotic and bizarre that some Italian officials suspected he was an American spy broadcasting in a secret code.)

From a perspective beyond party politics

“This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African Americans and the special pride that must be theirs tonight,” McCain said.

Doesn’t this election have special significance for all Americans? Shouldn’t we all experience “special pride” today for “doing something” that took an embarrassingly long time to accomplish…? Beyond parties, beyond platforms, beyond everything: just talking about people here.

I have yet to come across mention in the national media of California’s vote to strip married gay couples of their marriage rights and to reserve marriage for heteroexual couples.

And I’ve been looking.

Banned Books Redux

From the Los Angeles Times:

Yet it’s foolish, self-defeating even, to pretend that books are innocuous, that we don’t need to concern ourselves with what they say. If that’s the case, then it doesn’t really matter if we ban them, because we have already stripped them of their power.

Books do change things: Just think of “Common Sense,” which lighted the fuse of the American Revolution, or “Mein Kampf,” which laid out the blueprint for Hitler’s Germany.

These are very different books — one a work of hope and human decency, the other as venal a piece of writing as I’ve ever read — but what they have in common is a kind of historical imperative, the sense that, at the right place and time, a book can be a galvanizing factor, for good or ill.