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McL/ git on with the job/

December 31, 2010

December 31 MMX

Today I’m on the Pound shelves. I’m working on cataloging the books mixed with Eric’s on his own shelves, before tackling the many still in old boxes – some have not seen the light of day since after Marshall’s death when they were packed up from his office in the Centre for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto, or from his home office.

Speaking of Marshall’s death, it happened thirty years ago today, New Year’s Eve. Requiescat in pace.

Ezra Pound typed, in a letter to Marshall McLuhan that I found tucked between the pages of a book on Pound (Ezra Pound and the Cantos, by Harold H. Watts) mailed from Washington in 1953:


the laBOUrers in deh lard’s gaden are few / ergo McL ought
not to sink into dessuetude and leave all the woik to his STAR

The letter, two typed pages, is complex. Not sure what most of it means, but the tone is almost confrontational – not surprising, as Pound was apparently a cantankerous feller. I’m sure that’s putting it nicely. Reading the following:

they yell fascism / but not one damn word in ten years
re/ corporate state /
in which the idea is that people vote
on what they understand / and that the REPRESENTATIVES of
the different kinds of understanders/ i/e those
who understand DIFFERENT activities/ then assemble and
work out a just agreement.

which the sewer smears as tyranny / having tricked
the sm/ peopl/ OUT of all voice in their real govt.

AND the men who know,REALLY , some detail        , are kept

from meeting and intercommunication, which (^obstruct) causes
time lag. which gives the crooks time to operate

The aim of LAW is to prevent coercion either by force or by
McL/ git on with the job/

One can see why he eventually had to flee the United States.

A browse through the published letters Marshall wrote to Ezra Pound shows they spoke on a variety of subjects (Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, Oxford University Press). Marshall also wrote to Mrs. Pound, and his letters to Ezra began with ‘Dear Pound’ and ended with ‘Cordially yrs.,’. So Marshall held him in esteem, though I’m not sure the same was true for Pound. The letters in the book are now located at the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa, where you will have to travel to see the letters to Marshall from the people he corresponded with. I think the book would have been more interesting if it showed some of the letters Marshall received from the people he wrote to…which is not to say that there’s anything wrong with Letters of MM.

As I ring in the new year in Picton, I will take a few moments to think of the man I can’t remember, but am proud and honoured to be getting to know.

Requiscat in pace
Herbert Marshall McLuhan
July 20, 1911 to December 31st 1980


2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2011 12:01 pm

    No, I don’t think pound liked McLuhan…as I recall in the letters of MM pound was cited as calling McLuhan a “fanatic”, to which MM probably said, I resemble that remark 🙂

    These lines;
    the laBOUrers in deh lard’s gaden are few / ergo McL ought
    not to sink into dessuetude and leave all the woik to his STAR

    …are very interesting ..reminds me of the work of bob in relation to McLuhan …


  1. By Many Means, Divers Devices: Lost and Pound – a journal, a library, a letter, an Equation | inscriptorium

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