(Ban) Telos From the Crypt

…Don’t know that there is much to report save that Coburn and I have invented the vortoscope, a simple device which frees the camera from reality and lets one take Picasso direct from nature.

–from a letter written by Ezra Pound to John Quinn (October 13th, 1916)

Yes, Ezra was a profoundly disturbed man (but quite photogenic, don’t you think?)…

Reading Daniel Tiffany’s Radio Corpse has really amped up my (already considerable) interest in Imagism!

I’m currently working on a conference paper called “One Damned Thing After Another”, which will explore “death’s refrain” in Amazing Spider-Man and its function in maintaining “narrative stasis”… It’s truly a fascinating thing–the way Peter Parker has to deal with the ghosts of Uncle Ben, Captain Stacy, and Gwen, every few months or so, from the beginning until they started all of these confusing reboots… Doesn’t Marvel get it? There’s no need to “reboot” a super-hero series–by its’ very nature, the narrative “spreads” without progressing!!! (which means spidey never has to deal with “middle-aged spread”–and I would claim that the people who want him to are saboteurs of the first order–you wanna see a nice orderly “life-arc” that explores the lame-assed theme of “growing older”? Go rent Life As A House for chrissake!) Marvel’s Silver Age mantra is “meaning without purpose”–experiences fall like raindrops into a stagnant pool of memories, and every one of’em’s important (and worth footnoting), but they don’t lead anywhere–certainly not to “maturity”/”wisdom”! “Rebooting” just drains the pool…

Anyway–the way I see it, the “Image” (as Pound and his cohort defined it in 1912-14) is perhaps the artist’s strongest bulwark against the sickening distortions wrought upon existence by the “life-lessons” mentality…

Quoth Tiffany:

The sublime aspect of the Image derives from its irrepresible “substance”; indeed, the negative practice of Imagism serves not to eliminate but to preserve the “life” of the crypt: its elegiac feeling, its eroticism, its fatality… Understood as a form of alchemy, poetry is essentially a process of experimenting with various “fluids” in order to produce a precious commodity… The dead are indeed lodged within [Pound’s] work, but as dead, as Other.

In the Spider-Verse, Gerry Conway & Ross Andru took the pain and sense of loss that poured in through “dead letters” from fans and transmuted it into the ultimate destabilizing corpse-Image–the Gwen Stacy clone! (well, maybe penultimate–after Zenobia in The Blithedale Romance)

(Gil Kane drew the cover)

By the way–Steven’s on the formally stunted spider-narrative beat as well, over at Peiratikos

Good night friends



  1. I’m not sure I know enough about Spider-Man to say anything very smart… I’ve never read a Spider-Man comic in my life. I’m intrigued by this idea of whatever craziness is going on with Spider-Man’s Oedipal trajectory (maybe not intrigued enough to actually read a Spider-Man comic, though). Will this paper be available online when you’ve finished?


  2. Steven,

    It certainly will be! (although I’m planning to try the journals first & I’ve barely begun work on it, so it might be a while!)


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