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By Sanford Schwartz

Sanford Schwartz situates Modernist poetics within the highbrow ferment of the early 20th century, which witnessed significant advancements in philosophy, technological know-how, and the humanities. starting with the works of varied philosophers--Bergson, James, Bradley, Nietzsche, and Husserl, between others--he establishes a matrix that brings jointly not just the vital features of Modernist/New serious poetics but in addition the affiliations among the Continental and the Anglo-American severe traditions.

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The Matrix of Modernism: Pound, Eliot, and Early Twentieth-Century Thought

Sanford Schwartz situates Modernist poetics within the highbrow ferment of the early 20th century, which witnessed significant advancements in philosophy, technology, and the humanities. starting with the works of assorted philosophers--Bergson, James, Bradley, Nietzsche, and Husserl, between others--he establishes a matrix that brings jointly not just the significant features of Modernist/New serious poetics but additionally the affiliations among the Continental and the Anglo-American serious traditions.

Extra info for The Matrix of Modernism: Pound, Eliot, and Early Twentieth-Century Thought

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It especially piqued William James, who debated Bradley in the journal Mind for nearly a decade. " James argues that concepts are true insofar as they guide us successfully through the sensory flux: "True ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify. "17 But he refuses to go the full distance with James by equating truth with instrumental ABSTRACTION AND EXPERIENCE • 35 efficacy. Philosophy, he claims, is an activity pursued for the­ oretical rather than practical satisfaction: the rational cannot be reduced to the instrumental, the logical to the psycholog­ ical.

Instead of attending to our deeper psychic states, which are perpetually changing in time, we apprehend a world of discrete and stable objects laid out before us in space. Furthermore, as a result of this habitual neglect of real duration, we become less like "vital" beings who are free and constantly developing, and more like "mechanical" entities ABSTRACTION AND EXPERIENCE • 27 that are determined and remain perpetually the same. We think and act in a practical but highly predictable manner: The greater part of the time we live outside ourselves, hardly perceiving anything of ourselves but our own ghost, a colourless shadow which pure duration projects into homogeneous space.

Bergson also views the intellect as a practical mechanism that censors immediate experience. The intellect is an instru­ mental rather than a speculative faculty, and its purpose is to replace the stream of sensations with a network of stable and useful concepts. Contrary to traditional beliefs, the intellect is designed not to find a preexisting reality behind the sen­ sory flux but to project a useful grid upon it: "We do not aim generally at knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but in or­ der to take sides, to draw profit—in short, to satisfy an inter­ est.

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