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Ezra Pound’s “Modern Eleusis” and Nietzsche’s Dionysianism

  • Modernism
  • 모더니즘
  • Occultism
  • 오컬티즘
  • Dionysianism
  • 디오니소스주의
  • Vitalism
  • 생기론
  • Eleusinian Mysteries
  • 엘레우시스 비의
  • Literature
  • Religious Science


Ezra Pound suggested the necessity of reviving the Greek mystery of Eleusis to seek a source of enlightened consciousness in the modern age. Dionysiac vitality and exhilaration are intrinsic to his interest in ancient mystery cults, Bacchic festivals, and other irrational rituals. Pound’s struggling progress from the sense of cultural crisis to the experience of mystical illumination underscores Nietzsche’s insight into the Dionysiac myth as a sacred primordial site of life. Pound and Nietzsche believed that the Dionysian cults, which led the initiated to generate ecstasy, euphoria, and intensity of will, could help moderns snap out of the impotence, inanition, and sterilization of the modern world. Pound’s poetry attempts to recapture the Dionysian numens as embodiments of eternal processes in nature and makes his poetic world numinous by foregrounding the presence of Dionysus in all animals (particularly cats), plants, and trees. Nietzsche proposed the “will to power” and the “eternal recurrence” as the Dionysian concepts of nature that he expected to transform the consciousness of modern humans and the structure of Western culture. The mysteries of Eleusis basically mime nature’s reproductive process that employs the occult idea of sexual illumination and ritualistic initiations. The discussion of Pound’s occultism in terms of Nietzsche’s Dionysian vitalism results in identifying the occult images from ancient mystical remains as expressing the religious intelligence and sensibility of discovering and creating divinity in nature.

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