William S. Burroughs, Ezra Pound and the cut up technique


In this audio, William Burroughs briefly mentions Ezra Pound. In the article
http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/text/Sieburth-Richard_Pound.html
Richard Sieburth writes of Pound’s inspiration for the montage technique from the sequence of signal reception resulting from the rotation of a radio dial. I thought it interesting that Burroughs missed the similarity to the cut up technique.

Looking at the discussion of radio and Pound in The Work of Voice in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, McLuhan is proved correct — that exposure to technology changes perception and thought. It seems that Pound’s receiving radio had that effect and so for him at least “antenna of the race” moves beyond metaphor.

# # #

The power of the arts to anticipate future social and technological
developments by a generation and more has long been recognized. In the
last century Ezra Pound called the artist “the antennae of the race”:
Art as radar acts as “an early alarm system,” as it were, enabling us
to discover social and psychic targets in lots of time to prepare to
cope with them. This concept of the arts as prophetic contrasts with
the popular idea of them as mere self-expression. –Marshall McLuhan,
Understanding Media, 1964

– – –

“…
At the root of this legal and medical disaster lay the medium of
radio (this “devil box,” as Pound prophetically called it). As early
as 1924, a mere two years after the BBC had started regular
programming, Pound was (in an unpublished letter to his father Homer)
already comparing the montage technique of his Cantos to the medley of
voices produced by turning a radio dial;…
…”

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Political ideas that, as the media manufacturers suggest, impressionable minds might find confusing.