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CANTO XLV

 

 

 

Giovanni Bellini HalottKrisztus négyAngyallal 1470

But the one thing you shd. not do is to suppose that when something is wrong with the arts, it is wrong with the arts ONLY.

When a given hormone defects, it will defect throughout the whole system.

Ezra Pound Guide to Kulchur 60.

 

Although we might expect the language and allusions to distance the canto, giving it a medieval tone, Usura here comes closer to our twentieth-century lives than at any point in the Cantos. These are not other people’s houses, bread, churches, art, sexuality, which are marred by Usura, but ours.

George Kearns. Guide to Ezra Pound’s Selected Cantos 124.

 

Of course, people today do discuss the ethics of finance. We debate whether bankers deserve lucrative bonuses; we worry about the moral hazard of bank bailouts; we condemn bankers who sell financial instruments that they know will fail. But since so much of the language of economics is amoral, and built on the assumption that everyone acts in their narrow self-interest, demanding just outcomes from finance feels like expecting fair results from war. We’ve lost the instinct that finance and debt are moral affairs all the way down.

Alex Mayyasi. “How Did Usury Stop Being a Sin and Become Respectable Finance?” Aeon, 7 July 2017.

 

RELATED CANTOS

CANTOS VIII-IX (Malatesta Cantos) [artists of the Tempio Malatestiano]

CANTO XII [Baldy Bacon; the honest sailor: the “money business”]

HELL CANTOS [XIV–XV] [usura, arch-monster of hell]

CANTO XX [the “painted paradise” of art]

CANTO XXI [enlightened patronage and money: Lorenzo de Medici versus Jefferson]

CANTOS XXV and XXVI [art and state patronage in Venice]

CANTO XXXVII [Martin van Buren against debt and the usurious bank]

CANTO XL [usury in action: John Pierpont Morgan, the civil war and finance capitalism in the United States]

CANTOS XLII-XLIV (Siena Cantos) [keeping a bridle on usury]

CANTO XLVI [usury in contemporary life. The Bank of England as heart of usury]

CANTO XLVII [counterpoint to usura: the natural order]