Canto 12 was composed during a period of Pound’s vigorous promotional exertion for his modernist allies. In it, he comes to terms with poetics as an aesthetic practice including research and development - archival discoveries and industrious hustling. Here the Cantos become less about highlighting particular personae in granular detail than the function of particular platforms for a large-scale poetic project. These strata - the table, the arena, the cave, the seaborne craft - serve as durable, deep time metaphors for his project. The ice sheet recedes, Caveman Pound comes down, sits on his haunches, tries to convince the tribe to start making art, fails, and then climbs back up into the cave and squints at the read-outs on the ancestral, Anthropocene “registering instrument,” an ambivalent ticker tape which, for him, reads both boom and bust.
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