“I am all for the triangle”: The Geopolitical

Aesthetic of Pound’s Japan


Paul Stasi and Josephine Park, eds. Ezra Pound in The Present. Bloomsbury, 2016. 





For Pound, Japan represented not just a unique national culture, but also the living continuation of Chinese civilization, much as he considered a select few European nations of his time to represent the inheritors of a living European tradition. His long-term vision of Asia therefore needs to be understood not merely as including Japan along with China, but in terms of a Japanese mediation of China that was at once political and philological. This emphasis on Japan is meant not to tout its importance relative to China, but to achieve a more multidimensional picture of how Pound’s uses of East Asia related to his conception of tradition and modernity, nationalism and internationalism, particularity and universality –and, ultimately, the dreamed-of resolution of these oppositions in an aesthetic politics.

I approach this topic from three directions. First, by demonstrating Pound’s interest in and awareness of contemporary Japan by providing an overview of his numerous interactions with Japanese artists and writers. Second, by revisiting the significance of Pound’s use of the Noh as a model for “a long imagist or vorticist poem,” which I argue should be understood not simply as a narrowly formal model for adding complex temporal dimensions to the image, but also as a way to foreground the historical dimension of images, linking momentary perception to collective memory. Finally, I consider the place of Japan in Pound’s fascist-era vision of the world and its future, emphasizing his engagement with what might be called a mediated Orientalism with respect to China. 

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Christopher Bush is associate professor in the department of French at Northwestern University, where he also serves on the faculty of Comparative Literary Studies and Asian Studies, and co-directs two interdisciplinary initiatives: the Global Avant-garde and Modernist Studies graduate certificate and the French and the Global Humanities working group. His research focuses on comparative and interdisciplinary approaches to modernism and the historical avant-gardes. Publications include a translation and critical edition of Victor Segalen’s Stèles (Wesleyan, 2007), Ideographic Modernism: China, Writing, Media (Oxford, 2012), and, more recently, essays in A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism (Eric Hayot and Rebecca Walkowitz, eds., Columbia 2016) and Ezra Pound in the Present (Josephine Park and Paul Stasi, eds., Bloomsbury, 2016). He currently has two book projects under contract: The Floating World: Japoniste Aesthetics and Global Modernity (Columbia) and The Global Avant-garde (Bloomsbury) and is co-editor of the journal Modernism/modernity.





Christopher Bush: List of Publications



Ideographic Modernism: China, Writing, Media. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Steles. With Timothy Billings. A translation and critical edition of Victor Segalen’s Stèles. Wesleyan University Press, 2007 (Winner of the MLA’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for a Translation of a Literary Work)



“Introduction” to the critical edition of Ezra Pound’s Cathay (forthcoming, Fordham University Press)

“‘I am All for the Triangle’: The Geopolitical Aesthetics of Pound’s Japan.” Ezra Pound in the Present. Eds. Josephine Park and Paul Stasi. Bloomsbury, 2016.

“Context.” A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism. Eds. Eric Hayot and Rebecca Walkowitz. Columbia University Press, 2016.

“Intellectual Currents in East Asia.” The Modernist World. Eds. Allana Lindgren and Stephen Ross. Routledge, 2015.

“‘Yukiko’s Spinach and the Nouvelle Manga Aesthetic.” Drawing from Life. Ed. Jane Tolmie. University of Mississippi Press, 2013.

 “Modernism and Orientalism” Modernism and Theory: A Handbook of Modernist Studies. Ed. Jean-Michel Rabaté. Blackwell, 2013.

“Why Not Compare?” English Language Notes 49.1 (2011): 169-175.

 “Unpacking the Present: The Floating World of French Modernity” in Pacific Rim Modernisms. Eds. Mary Ann Gillies, Helen Sword, and Steven Yao. University of Toronto Press, 2009.

“Reading and Difference: Image, Allegory, and the Invention of Chinese.” Sinographies: Writing China. Eds. Haun Saussy, Eric Hayot, and Steven Yao. University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

 “The Lacquered Age: American Japonisme and the Ethnic Thing.” Representations 99 (2007): 74-98.

“The Other of the Other?: Cultural Studies, Theory, and the Location of the Modernist Signifier” Comparative Literature Studies 42.2 (2005): 162-180.

“Deaths of a Discipline” and editors’ introduction (with Eric Hayot). Comparative Literature 57.3 (2005): 199-200; 207-213.


Short entries and interviews (selected)

 “Areas: Bigger than the Nation, Smaller than the World.” Futures of Comparative Literature (Routledge, 2017); originally in “Report on the State of        the Discipline of Comparative Literature” (April, 2014).

“Cathay at 100: A Conversation” (with Timothy Billings, Yunte Huang, Josephine Park, Marjorie Perloff, Qian Zhaoming, Haun Saussy, and Richard Sieburth). Chinese Literature: Essays Articles Reviews 37 (2015): 165-181.


Editorial work and special journal issues (selected)

Editor, “Field Reports” section of Modernism/modernity’s PrintPlus platform.

“Linking: Critical Connections Between East Asia and Latin America.” Special forum for Verge.

Literature sub-editor for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism.

“Original Languages: An ACLA Forum.” Comparative Literature 65.1 (2013)

“Forms of Asia.” Representations 99 (2007). With Colleen Lye.

“Responding to Death of a Discipline: An ACLA Forum.” Comparative Literature 57. 3 (2005). With Eric Hayot


Reviews (recent)

Andrea Bachner, Beyond Sinology:Chinese Writing and the Scripts of Culture. Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (forthcoming).

Susan Stanford Friedman, Planetary Modernism: Provocations on Modernity Across Time. Modernism/modernity, 23, 3 (September 2016): 686-688.

Gloria Bien, Baudelaire in China and Yuping Yang, Baudelaire et la révolution culturelle chinoise. Journal of Asian Studies, 73, 3 (August 2014): 775-777.


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