Working at the bookstore tonight and flipping through The Antonio Gramsci Reader. Some pithy bits:
Having passed from capitalist power to workers' power, the factory will continue to produce the same material things that it produces today. Butin what way and under what forms will poetry, drama, the novel, music, painting and moral and linguistic works be born? It is not a material factory that produces these works.... Nothing in this field is foreseeable except for this general hypothesis: there will be a proletarian culture (a civilization) totally different from the bourgeois one and in this field too class distinctions will be shattered. Bourgeois careerism will be shattered and there will be a poetry, a novel, a theatre, a moral code, a language, a painting and a music peculiar to proletarian civilization, the flowering and ornament of proletarian social organization. What remains to be done? Nothing other than to destroy the present form of civilization. In this field, "to destroy" does not mean the same as in the economic field. It does not mean to deprive humanity of the material products that it needs to subsist and to develop. It means to destroy spiritual hierarchies, prejudices, idols and ossified traditions.Curious how he affirms Futurism (conservative politically, aesthetically revolutionary) as politically revolutionary in spite of itself, but his revolutionary aesthetics seem actually quite conservative, as with Georg Lukacs. But I think this will be useful to me in understanding a little better the specifically Italian situation that Pound found himself in, in some ways extending the Futurist project with The Cantos.
A new social group that enters history with a hegemonic attitude, with a self-confidence which it initially did not have, cannot but stir up from deep within itself personalities who would not previsouly have found sufficient strength to express themselves fully in a particular direction.
For the politician, every "fixed" image is a priori reactionary: he considers the entire movement in its development. The artist, however, must have "fixed" images that are cast into their definite form. The politician imagines man as he is and, at the same time, how he should be in order to reach a specific goal. His task is precisely to stir men up, to get them to leave their present life behind in order to become collectively able to reach the proposed goal, that is, to get them to "conform" to the goal. The artist necessarily and realistically depicts "that which is," at a given moment (the personal, the non-conformist, etc.) From the political point of view, therefore, the politician will never be satisfied with the artist and will never be able to be: he will find him alwahys behind the times, always anachronistic and overtaken by the real flow of events.
When the politician puts pressure on the art of his time to express a particular cultural world, his activity is one of politics, not of artistic criticism. If the cultural world for which one is fighting is a living and necessary fact, its expansiveness will be irresistible and it will find its artists. Yet if, despite pressure, this irresistibility does not appear and is not effective, it means that the world in question was artificial and fictitious, a cardboard lucubration of mediocre men who complain that those of major stature do not agree with them.
There is also a "rational" form of conformism that corresponds to necessity, to the minimum amount of force needed to obtain a useful result. The discipline involved must be exalted and promoted and made "spontaneous" or "sincere." Conformism, then, means nothing other than "sociality," but it is nice to use the word "conformism" precisely because it annoys imbeciles. This does not mean that one cannot form a personality or be original, but it makes matters more difficult. It is too easy to be original by doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing; this is just mechanical. It is too easy to speak differently from others, to play with neologisms, whereas it is difficult to distinguish oneself from others without doing acrobatics.