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Usure et rupture - Breaking points

 | 
Claudine Raynaud
, 
Peter Vernon

Usure et rupture/breaking points

Claudine Raynaud et Peter Vernon

Texte intégral

Sweetest Love, I do not goe,
For weariness of thee,
Nor in the hope the world can
show
A fitter Love for mee;
But since that I
Must dye at last,'tis best,
To use my self in jest
Thus
fain'd deaths to dye.
("Song" by John Donne)

En somme l'histoire de la
pensée, des connaissances, de la
philosophie, de la littérature
semble multiplier les ruptures
et chercher tous les
hérissements de la
continuité,
alors que l'histoire
proprement dite, l'histoire tout
court, semble effacer, au profit
des structures sans labilité,
l'irruption des événements.
(Foucault, Archéologie du Savoir, 13)

1Certain recurrent ideas emerge through the rich diversity of papers collected here under the title Usure et Rupture: the necessity of cultural memory in finding an idiom, the rupture of form to provide a new text which makes sense of the past from the viewpoint of the present, the ways in which the image of usury plays an ambiguous role-both fructifying and economizing the text. A translator's delight, rupture in English can be variously rendered by break up, breaking up, parting, severance, split, rupture, clash, antagonism, discrepancy, gap, disjunction, disruption, discontinuity, reversal, change, etc., which should alert us to the treacherously shifting epistemological grounds onto which we dared to tread. Usure, this gradual process of wearing out, can also become usury: i. e. "excessive interest".

2Jean-Rémi Lapaire's quest for the epistemological foundation of the concept of rupture serves as an apt starting point to map out the difficulties encountered when defining this notion in its relation to the process of wearing out (usure). He concludes that as soon as this phenomenon is conceived under the mode of a link, a break can be envisioned. The thread (of life), the line (of time) are all spatial and linear representations of experience which must be foregrounded before questioning the concept of "break" and bemoaning the impossible task of translation. The opposition between continuity and break plays a central part in the metaphysical structuring of knowledge. History sees in change and revolution a break away from the old order; classical song opposes legato (link) to staccato (separation); behind the legal contract which binds both parties lies the primary image of the string, the bond which ties.

3Lapaire's aim is to bring forth the cognitive nature of the genesis of the term; hence the question: how does the mind proceed when it seeks to understand the workings of language? Using Lakoffs analysis of the link between the notion of category to the "CONTAINER schema" Lapaire makes the following remarks: abstract/high concepts have concrete/low origins which frequently bear on our perception of space, matter, and the body. There is a hierarchy between an elementary level of conceptualisation and a derived and more intellectual level. Rupture is a fairly frequent term in linguistic analysis and in utterer-centered grammars, along with neighboring notions such as breaks, fractures, clefting {clivage), disjunctions, disruptions. Is it a concept or an image? It is a metaphoric projection where, according to Lakoff and Johnson's formulation,"the nonphysical is conceptualized in terms of the physical." The break, as opposed to the link, also structures metaphorically other (psychological, social and legal) domains. Lakoff recenters the notion of break on that of a "LINK schema" (2 entities, A & B, and LINK connecting them). In grammatical terms the link became a relation. The idea of link is at the core of any grammar; break is the projected shadow of the founding concept of relation. And new dualities come into play such as binding or fusion (soudure)/separating, connection/disconnection. Two theoretical points are made: 1) The act of breaking can create two separate entities instead of being the act of separating two autonomous entities. In both cases, a space, a void, emerges between the two elements whose autonomy could be interpreted as the manifestation of a certain antagonism (contrast, antithesis). 2) The metaphorical structure is partial, not total. Lapaire follows with a survey of the application of the concept to grammatical questions: spatio-temporal relations ("off," the opposition preterite/present perfect, there/then, "or" and "but") and semantico-syntactical relations (where the irreducible fact of special contiguity leads to the often obscuring metaphor of the signifying chain).

4Gérard Deléchelle starts with and concludes on the difficulty of integrating into linguistic theory notions such as "wearing out" and "breaking up". Language as discourse possesses a coherence, a cohesion-a notion added to the diad usure/rupture-- which fails to accommodate the concept of breaking points. Since "wearing out" implies an evolution in time, Deléchelle's analysis bears on its diachronic dimension and on different instances of its synchronic dimensions: the process of nominalization, the concept of reactivation (relance), the zero morpheme, and discursive breaks. Globally, changes are of some interest to the linguist when they affect the system as a whole (e. g. the great vowel shift). Moreover the "wear and tear" of language has given birth to certain grammatical markers. Syntactically, this "fraying" of language may give rise to a reinterpretation or a reexamination of pre-existing structures. The disappearance of certain forms occur concomitantly with the emergence of new ones (e. g. "as," "since," "for" gradually fade away from oral discourse to give way to "because" or '"cos") while the meaning of certain forms evolves (e. g. Be + ing). Both the sociolinguists and the linguists specializing in diachronic variations might have better tools to tackle the external and internal factors presiding over such continuous "evolutions", a more appropriate word since the system keeps adapting to all forms of constraint. The example of reactivation, such as that operated by "for," has led to the notion of "rhematic reactivation" to explain the call for polemics addressed to the co-utterer which this connector contains. Yet this reactivation cannot be understood solely as a break; furthermore, it is not a question of something being taken up again (reprise).

5Geneviève Girard, for her part, asks the question of the role played by the preposition "to" within the sentence. Setting aside the analysis of semantic difference from other prepositions, which has already been covered, she concentrates on the combination: preposition + GN (adverbials in Quirk's terminology). Far from being a link to the subject of the sentence, "to" signals a break. Such a questioning leads her to interrogate the notion of "sentence" and to define a role for "to" used in a complex sentence other than that of prospective vision (visée). The adverbial introduced by "to" does not necessarily imply a link to the subject of the sentence; a second distinction is that of consequence as opposed to cause ("in") and simultaneity ("with", "in"). Using another set of examples where the adverbial must be linked to the subject of the sentence, she shows that in each case the "referents" are not "agents", but "beneficiaries", "recipients" of the impressions conveyed because of the semic content of the verbs. The canonical scheme: agent-affected element is reversed. Girard further raises the question of the role of the verb's semanticism: the constraints could be cognitive but are they intralinguistic or extralinguistic?

6In another modulation on the examination of a link which both contains the notion of decline and emergence, Santin-Guettier seeks to confront the terms "a lot of/lots of" and "much/many" to explore the status of the concept of clefting. Her hypothesis is that the spaces between the words "a lot of" signal the utterer's neutral position, his/her objectivity, whereas the absence of gaps open the way to comments and the expression of (the utterer's) subjectivity. She proceeds by examining the internal make-up of these quantifiers. In her exploration she notes that clefting does not refer to a linguistic fact which would stigmatise the lack of link between two elements; at the most, it refers to the absence of a welding point. "Off links (relates) and separates;"off" and "off share the same root;"of" can consequently be seen as a linchpin, a linguistic hinge. The internal mechanism of each configuration determines the type of relation which each one entertains with its target as well as the degree of subjectivity of the utterer in his/her discourse. While "much/many" entertain with their targets a stronger relation (R), the memory-trace which is still borne by " of " weakens the relation between "a lot/lots" and the segment which follows. The higher number of occurrences of "a lot/lots" in affirmative clauses and "much/many" in interrogative and negative clauses mean that affirmative utterances constitutes a discursive foundation, a preconstructed assembling. By comparison, Santin-Guettier comes to the notion of "relay-operators" (both transition and relation). An examination of "much" deprived of target does not invalidate the propositon since in that case the target is presupposed, preconstructed; "much" bears on the most intimate workings of the utterance and is used in negative, interrogative and hypothetical clauses precisely because of its link to the subject-predicate relation in affirmative clauses. In the case of a comparison, "much" bears on the relation, whereas "a lot" specializes on the greater or lesser quantity, added or subtracted. The operator's density (disappearance of "a") follows a movement leading to the emergence of the utterer's comment, to his/her filtering intervention. Is "a lot" more analytical, less subject to the utterer's appreciation? "Many" is closer to the metaphoric than to quantification. Register also plays a part, but overall "many" signals preconstruction, the trace of an appreciation; it stops with greater strength a preconstructed counter-proposition; Pus "much/many" draw Peir force from discordance. The conclusion should not be that the presence of a graphic clefting entails the backgrounding of Pe utterer but raPer that one must question the elements which frame this clivage. The denser the construction, the stronger its grammatical function. Morphologically marked by information, "a lot" can be opposed to "much" and "many" oriented towards synthesis.

7Graphic "clefting" naturally leads to Anne Besnault's close attention to the typographical break-down in some of Katherine Mansfield's short-stories: from linguistics to stylistics. Looking at these gaps from the perspective of narration, Besnault concludes that such blanks are less the textual manifestation of breaks in the narrative sequence than the sign of a fracture, the space of a signifying distancing. According to her, the dynamics usure-rupture can accurately be applied to Pe waning years of Pe Victorian period and the concomitant advent of Modernism which teaches that rupture can go hand in hand with structure, disconnectedness with patterning. The search for a style which aims at transparency while preserving mystery, the desire to unveil coupled wiP the wish to keep quiet, the emergence of a self-questing voice are the hallmarks of Modernism. A brief comparison wiP Pe use of textual segmentation in Woolf, Joyce, Chekov, and Poe's short-stories shows that the complexity of textual structuring, as well as the fragmentation of these texts, are linked to narration: generally, the breaks signal the passage from one consciousness to another; they are the mark of a rupture in time, or in space. In Chekhov and in Poe, typographical segmentation is the fictional counterpart of grammatical ellipsis.

8Returning to Mansfield, Besnault's analysis follows two axes: 1) structural breaks and narration 2) typographical breaks and utterance. Structural breaks stem from an epistemological thrust; aesthetically, they reduce the distance between prose and poetry. The syntagmatic chain is interrupted by elements that belong to the paradigmatic axis; the structural break is the site of a textual (dream) work, the symbol of the text's refusal of univocality. Such reflexion leads to a questioning of the links between the word and the blank (the gap), the said and the unsaid, which is worked through by Mansfield's nostalgia for oneness, her repeated exposure of the individual's irreductible doubleness (social facade and real self). Seen in this light, the blank signals the loss of the authenticity of the word as well as the failure of its transparency. Lastly, it is is a wilful and involuntary resistance to certain ways of speaking; e. g. when it follows the repetition of a word which simultaneously points out the desire to utter and the failure of that utterance. The break would then be access to the unsaid, the site of emergence of a voice which attempts to "free itself from history", the trace of an essential lack which brings us back to the text as manifestation of desire, or rather to desire as it manifests itself as/in (the) text.

9John Pier analyses three interrelated features in Sterne's Tristram Shandy. He states first, that the central event within the diegesis of the text is Tristram's accidental circumcision which signals the symbolic transfer of Uncle Toby's impotence to Tristram. Second, that to a significant degree character discourse in Tristram Shandy is either metaphorical in the case of Walter, or metonymical in the case of Uncle Toby. Finally, metalepsis (defined as the textually disruptive intrusion of one level of narrative discourse into another) is seen as a fundamental feature of Tristram's discourse, and, more generally, of the textual organization of the novel. These three aspects of Tristram Shandy bear upon many of the text's essential narrative and discursive features and they suggest that Sterne's work is a text that is in a state of perpetual rupture with itself.

10In "Peter Quince's Ballad: Shakespeare, Psychoanalysis, History," Catherine Belsey points out that comic characters in love declare their love in quotation marks, but their textual memory is often faulty. Belsey begins her discussion of A Midsummer Night's Dream with the statement that Bottom's night with Titania marks a rupture with his previous representations as an ass, and she goes on to examine how Bottom draws on cultural memory to find an idiom for the unrepresentable. In misquoting the Bible, Bottom produces a new text, and makes a new sense of what he half remembers. In a sense arguing for the responsibilities of historicity, Belsey continues by asking what role cultural memory might play in the production of Peter Quince's reconstruction of Bottom's dream. For Belsey, in the course of twentiethcentury history, there have been epistemological breaks marked by dream, vison or hallucination (she mentions those of 1917, 1933, 1989), which need to be remembered and recorded, even if this cannot be done accurately. However, the record must be made in a mode of writing which breaks with traditional narrative forms, to produce a new text which makes sense of the past for and from the present.

11While Belsey has considered rupture in the creation of a new text-the dream-Tom Pughe considers rupture in an analysis of Philip Roth's parodic treatment of James's Künstlernovellen in which the reader of the Roth text finds it impossible to develop a sense of continual historical development or of a living tradition. For Pughe, Roth parodies the Jamesian dichotomies between art and trash. Roth's writer-character experiences a double set of displacement: he loses his modernist role model, and loses his sense of his public.

12Lucia Boldrini, in contrast, examines another kind of break: that of the relationship between fact and fiction. In the past, she argues, the status of the two was not often in doubt. However, in looking at some recent fictional biographies of historical characters, Boldrini concludes that the distinction between fact and fiction has collapsed. "Theory" has dispensed with truth, the author is dissolved in language, and is known only as a linguistic product, a bio-granhv in the etymological sense.

13Two papers, one bearing on the shifting status of the novel in France, the other on the early years of the English Revolution and its popular iconography, shed light on the crises of the subject in the XVIIth century, privileging the notion of breaking point, foregrounding instances of rupture and qualifying an aesthetic of mirrors and fracture.

14From the vantage point of the French XVIIth century literary scene, Daniel Riou's analysis of the textual transformations of Charles Sorel's Histoire comique de Francion (first published in 1623, re-edited and considerably enlarged in 1626, and subsequently in 1633) mirrors what has come to be called "the Age of the Baroque" as the founding moment for the birth of modern writing, for the expansion of the novel, and for the history of subjectivity. Does Sorel's work signal the wearing out of an imagination turned towards the novel, "history" being a superior genre? The three successive publications reveal a questioning of the modalities of novelistic utterance (dire romanesque) which each previous version exemplifies. This "Comic History" is a Bildungsroman rather than a picaresque novel and the main narrative is framed by a narrative instance which grants Francion the right to tell his story. An initial transparency between the status of this primary narrator and Francion leads to a series of embedded narratives which ultimately reflect on a soon-to-be exacerbated problematic of subjectivity. In the 1626 version the character is repudiated, and the hero as intradiegetic narrator is also repudiated. The primary narrative instance, as if looking for a neutral status, no longer resorts to the "I". The narrative has lost its transparency while Francion has been destituted from his role as intradiegetic narrator. These changes can be read in the paratextual elements.

15In the extra-narrative discourse, however, the narrator no longer tells the story, he comments on it. The desire to participate in the edification of the reader is displaced from the address "To the Reader" into the narrative proper. In the 1626 version Sorel multiplies these thresholds to the text in which the contract between the readership and the institution is negotiated. As becomes evident, the question of authorship (Sorel?) and that of genre (is it a work of fiction or an autobiography?) are linked. In the 1633 version the narrative is preceded by an epistle to Francion signed Du Parc. Hiding behind a pseudonym as is common practice in the XVIIth century, the author throws some doubt on the fictional character of his work. Various effects of textual mirrorings are produced by the play between the paratextual elements and the narrative. While the author's anonymity went without saying in 1623, a new treatment of novelistic subjectivity later came into being in a complex and contradictory way. Sorel's new model for the modern writerintellectual faces a crisis of subjectivity which expresses the new modalities in which man must relate to his self after the disillusionment of religious strife and the civil wars. In sum, institutional uncertainty overdetermines the subject of writing; this breaks through in the conflictual proceedings of narrative utterances which evidence numerous breaking points. These fractures are all the more remarkable as the 1620-30s were imbued with profound political, cultural and ideological change.

16Focusing on the English Revolution (as a historical disruption) and the iconography which emerged from these troubled times, Elizabeth Tuttle addresses the question of how the woodcuts of the cheap popular pamphlets which dealt with current affairs during the early years of the crisis differed from the illustrations of the early 1600s. She locates a "breaking point" in the form and the iconology of the woodcuts; together with the emergence of secular participatory politics, the national political upheaval saw the rise of an iconography which caught the popular mood and participated in it. Woodcuts illustrating the broadsides and small pamphlets became accessible to the growing numbers of literate craftsmen, shopkeepers and apprentices; high and low culture communicated. As the structure of censorship was falling apart, the years 1641-1643 produced the highest number of pamphlet publications in the civil war period. Topics which primarity attracted pamphlet readers were the burning question of the reform and the future of the national church, witness the number of illlustrations which stigmatize Laud's behavior of e. g. A New Play Called Canterburie His Change of Diet... (March, 1641); or the practices of the Star Chamber e. g. Old Newes Newly Revived (Dec., 1641). An artistic savoir faire which differed from the modes of representation used since the 1530s developed. More and more the often anonymous craftsmen created woodcut compositions that demonstrate the technique of "condensation" to uphold political satire, while ancient woodcuts were also re-used or imitated. Produced in a context of free press and political unrest, the woodcut can be seen as an assembling of non-verbal signs that opened the door to the printed word. While the Royalists produced very few pamphlets on their behalf, the revolutionary moment was in the process of fashioning a new iconographic symbolism. Yet the satirical political woodcut disappeared in the late 1640s; the iconographic "breaking point" was plastered over: usure, rupture, suture?

17Historical breaking points, revolutions, "discontinuities" are the focus of two theoretical papers which bear on American history, be it history as discourse or the status of the historical "event". In both papers the third term of "plastering over," "cementing" comes to complement the tension between wear and tear which an American faith in progress repeatedly produces. Pierre Lagayette's reflection on the status of the historical event in American history starts with the ambivalence between continuity and breaking points in which the presence of the event to History-its historicity-plays itself out. History being a subtle mixture of the unpredictable and the deliberate, the historian is confronted by the double evidence of what is certain (it happened) and what is difficult (the deciphering of all possible meanings since "history" is a narrative construction). History must have meaning and direction. Either a sign of motion or of stasis, the event will evidence the meaning which it bears and also the direction towards which it leads. The possibility of an event brings its context and its impact to bear on the reflection. The historian's task is to transform the haphazard into the probable, the unforeseeable into the plausible.

18The second question raised by Lagayette is that of the specificity of American history in defining the historical event. Run through the oscillation between an obsession for (manifest or not) destiny and its correlative, the contingency of a multitude of happenings, American history is a subtle mixture of conformism and pioneering spirit. On the one hand, America is "divine prophecy fulfilled," to take up Schlesinger's formula and even the Civil War is placed back into a triumphant metaphysical order. On the other hand, American history is individualistic and secular in its insistance on creating heroes and producing a popular symbolism of heroism. Far from ascribing to historical determinism, the American liberal democrat sees "man" as history's anonymous civil servant. The displacement from fact to event (e. g. presidential assassinations, and notably Lincoln's), has a more resounding effect in America. American history is torn between its epic vocation and an excess of discourse which adds layers of meanings to the most trivial thoughts. Heroes incarnate the sublime of national history. This trend is manifest in American history's difficulty of moving away from the narrative mode and biography. The American historian is tempted by hyperbole and the facile use of symbolism which is constitutive of the national character. An event is an advent, a beginning, a (re) birth. The American nation's primal scene is a continuous narcissistic birthing. Thus the historical break which the event would bring forth is illusory. America abhors the void; the memorable is absorbed into memory. Yet, according to Lagayette, the architectural conception of history has not continued into the nuclear age. The paradigmatic event of Hiroshima draws the limits of an instrumentalist historical consciousness and marks the end of a hermeneutic era. History no longer stutters; it is dumb. The uncertainties of history as a science are precisely the historian's raison d'être. Historical events and their traditional assembling of memory and initiative must be rethought, long-term determinisms must give way so that the contingency of historicity--this great engine of change-be acknowledged.

19Claude Julien tracks down the Americanness of the ideology of progress underlying the causal dynamics which links the process of wearing out to various breaking points. "To free oneself from history" is an impossible proposition. The American exception to the European rule of revolutionary breaks took place at the same time as a discourse of permanent renewal; new beginnings, turning points, constructed an image of unquestionable stability. Taking the example of the Thirties, Julien's conclusion is that America is all talk about change and no revolutionary action. The American mind continually breaks up the Old World, does away with worn out habits, turns its back on the immediate past, and repeatedly heralds and upholds the advent of the New. Brooks Adams'The Theory of Social Revolutions (1913) puts forward the following hypothesis: scientific progress speeds up social change, which in turn leads to a strengthening of federal power, which then leads to a revolution when the power elites fail to govern, which is then followed by a redistribution of property and power. Julien reads Adams'thesis against the grain as a plea for progress. In the same vein, his analysis of the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs Topeka (1954) goes to demonstrate that, if social progress is undeniable, the end of segregation is assuredly no breaking point. Relying on a Foucauldian definition of history, Julien recalls Earl Warren's anti-Japanese sentiment, and evokes the end to the Great Migration, which the acknowledgement of equal rights necessarily effected, to the immense relief of the Northern dominant class. The historian's task consists in "historicizing" political practices. History as narrative leads to the production of an effect of causality (effet de causalité), yet it neither proceeds rationally nor as a succession of causes and effects. American history text-books are all constructed along that progressive axis of hope and renewal. Henry Adams'vision of the ultimate chaos in which history will dissolve is likewise a comment on memory, and commenting can and must be seen as a praxis produced by a specific historical and cultural moment. Heterogenity should be upheld in a constant questioning of the effort to order things.

20Di Mascio's exploration of the transatlantic venture made by the avatars of Freudian psychoanalysis effects a shift from American history to the history of ideas, which nonetheless denounces the ideology of consent brought to the foreground by Lagayette and Julien. Karen Horney's project of breaking away from Freud—along with those commonly labelled "cultural psychoanalysts"--can literally be qualified as a breaking point in intellectual history. Relying on Malinowski's anthropological work, Horney believes that Freud's Oedipus complex is a cultural artifact. What is her evidence to repudiate Freud? Under the expression of "sexual stimulation," she in fact goes back to the seduction theory which Freud had abandoned. For Horney, seduction is the model of the influence that culture exercises on the individual; the child is attracted by the parent of the opposite sex because of the security principle. This brand of psychoanalysis is pervaded by an English liberalism which, from Hobbes to Hume, sees the individual's relationship to society as consensual and not conflictual. As distinct from French sociology and British social anthropology, opposed to egopsychology, culturalism is a trend of thought centered on the concepts of culture and selfhood which concerned American anthropologists and psychonanalysts. Horney lists culture's neurogeneous characteristics: competition, inequality, risks linked to instability, lack of solidarity, loneliness. This cultural malaise is due to the failure of the Gospel message of brotherly love linked to the weakening of religious spirit. Horney s refutation of Freud's notion of penis envy stems from a rejection of his analysis of female sexuality which she sees as a male invention (Incidentally, these are the theoretical and historical foundations of the feminist "revolution" of the 60s). She condemns Freud's mechanistic evolutionism and borrows William James'notion of identity as a modality of the perception of sameness. Looking for a distinction between the real self and the false self', her search for "authenticity" is the hallmark of American psychoanalysis. Horney and her fellow culturalists reject metapsychology, Freud's emphasis on cultural alienation and the notion of the death drive, in favour of a reappropriation of experience (which might be imaginary); all herald a progressive image of mankind. If the starting point of Horney's revision of Freud means that breaking away from him is a return to the Origins, then parting (breaking away, breaking up), Di Mascio ventures, is a fiction one invents, a story told to speak of a (painful) tearing apart.

21We conclude, aptly, with Laurent Milesi's article "Plus d'usure: Dante, Shakespeare, Pound, Derrida" which draws together many of the themes examined in Usure et Rupture, those breaking points which constantly shift their ground. Milesi briefly surveys the literature for and against usury from Aristole to Pound (Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Bacon, Bentham inter alia), and properly begins his discussion by considering an extract from Inferno XI. In the lower depths, punished for abusing God's gifts, sodomites and usurers are coupled together, both guilty of offending against God's natural laws of transmission and propagation. Dante draws on Aristotle s authority to establish the creative artist as a trustworthy follower of God's Logos; one who figures forth expressions received from nature. In so doing the poet loses loss itself since loss, in economic terms, is now gain in terms of love or wisdom. Thus usury, in its negative connotation of counterfeit which effaces the difference between exemplary original and false copy, is seen as loss both by excess and by default. However, by analogy, loss becomes gain: Hell gains Heaven's hatred. Dante's text is seen to undergo the economy of language in which the solving of knots trades with the proclamation of the lawful bonds, whilst the negative interest rains down fit punishment for unnatural crime.

22Milesi next looks at the background of usury in The Merchant of Venice pointing out the complex punning of use/Iewes/ewes which fuses the metaphorologies of Hebrew and Greek conceptions about money lending as handed down from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. In this punning text words become interchangeable tokens, which, if used sparingly, will exceed their principal meanings. The essence of the play lies in the economy of the comic denouement of its intricate plots of court and courtship.

23The link from The Merchant of Venice to Pound's Cantos goes beyond that of a verbally usurous pun of Pound/£/lb., for perhaps no other writer has fought against usury so much in order to restore and achieve convertability, "translation", between poetry and economics as well as philosophy, history and politics; Pound's aim being to restore a general flow of exchange based on natural production. Milesi highlights particular moments where Pound strategically fails to negocíate a balance between accumulation and the spending of language. Pound's interest in the entanglement of poetry/poetics in economics stems from his early reading of troubadour literature and various economic theories; these ideas were then taken further by the Imagists'prescriptions of the maximization of sense using minimum resources; which in turn naturally leads to a use of ideograms. Milesi briefly surveys Pound's borrowing of Dante's term usura, his capitalization of capital letters in the capital sin and crime USURA, while decapitating the Semitic to semitically. He then shows Pound's play with his own name: Pounding out his message; using the £ symbol to X out, using £ as a signature; known as Signore Sterlina to Joyce's children, etc.. Now, using Benjamin and Derrida in particular, Milesi shows that the debt of the translator can never be paid by Pound for the intertextual loan he makes, since the acknowledgement of the source reinscribes the source as the seal of sanctifying authority. Usury, like rhetoric, blurs clear definition since it always refers away and into something else. However, Pound is in a double-bind since his general theory of circulation and exchange entails a general process of figuration, which, because anything is potentially translatable can become a process of disfiguration.

24Finally, Milesi turns to Derrida's "La Mythologie blanche" which brillantly points out that usury and rhetoric have an identical structure of excess and are therefore equally damned by Pound. Derrida's essay points out the dual significance of usure: excess as the acquisition of too much interest; and also the using up, or deterioration through usage. Involvement with metaphor always leads to loss (indeed to death) since it always promises more than it gives. Be this as it may, we believe that the papers which follow all happily fulfil their promise.

© Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 1995

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