Rooms That Have Had Their Part – Joanna Kavenna
This Joanna Kavenna piece was a remarkable read this week: I share this large chunk and then go here to read ALL. Joanna is the author of numerous novels and critical writings and has a brain seventeen times the size of most of us. Buy her books.
“The whole temping experience made me dislike the modernists as well, or some of them. It made me lose faith in those post-Nietzscheans who condemned the ‘ordinary man’ (or woman), who decried ‘the masses’ and assumed the masses all felt and thought the same. Often, as I waited in some random flock of people, I thought about Ezra Pound’s seedy protégée, Richard Aldington, who stood in central London and wrote:
The Masses at Piccadilly
Are sordid and sweaty
We suspect them of vices
Like marriage and business
We know they are ignorant
Of Hokkei and Rufinus
Or Amy Lowell, ‘imagist’, who added:
Fools! It is always the dead who breed!
The little people are ignorant
They chatter and swarm
They gnaw like rats . . .
I ranted my way home each night – as I stood with my kind, as we swarmed into a mass, as we breathed in unison, like ladybirds in a cluster, related and merged organic matter, as I stood and swayed – I hated Aldington, Lowell, felt that had they not been so utterly dead I would have found them and beaten them to the ground, a futile fantasy of vengeance on the long dead, but I thought, how easy, how glorious, to set yourself against the masses, when you have been saved by wealth or accident, how easy to denounce the Others –…”