He came to think of this poetic form as an "ideogrammic
method," an expansion of imagism in which poetic thought takes on new complexity as a constellation of image-facts, "luminous details" presented in a direct voice.
But it is the very misreading that makes Pound find his "ideogrammic
method" in creating poems.
In Ezra Pound's well-known account of the ideogrammic
method, five words stand for the "abbreviated pictures" that register a thought signified in English by the abstraction "red":
Fenollosa and Pound's ideogrammic
eye, given legs, is unsure where to move, runs amok, producing new words as it scatters.
The earliest surviving Christian paintings are ideogrammic
pictures in the catacombs of Rome, dating to the 2nd century A.D.
The last two lines of the fourth stanza, "in seventeen hundred came Tsing to these hill lakes./A light moves on the south sky line, " function as a transition from the poetic description of Eight Views in the first part to the poet's imagination beyond the visual art through his unique ideogrammic
method, juxtaposing myths, history and folk songs into oneness in the second part.
On its concrete etymology, 121-SW stated it as 'A3 (ideogrammic
compound) of "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]]'; contemporary scholars have made different suggestions, such as 'A2 (ideogram) of rising sun', 'A1 (pictogram) of face', 'A1 of thumb', and 'A1 of candle with halo' (see a summary by 2002-GL: 7.217-225); I think it should be A3 of the action of milking: to milk from a breast, comparable to 121-SW but not any of the contemporary suggestions.
The various national flags are listed in an ideogrammic
manner, there is no superfluous language, the tone is contemporary, and the subtext is politically subversive.
Among these, what intrigues Pound most are the ideogrammic
images, since he believes ideograms present things in visual imagery.
(13) Pound discoursed upon his 'ideogrammic
method' in Chapter 1 of the ABC of Reading (London: Routledge, 1934); he had earlier reprinted an edited version of Ernest Fenollosa's 'The Chinese Written Character as the Medium for Poetry' in Instigations (1920) (cited below from the reprint in Poetry in Theory: An Anthology 1900-2000, ed.
This work not only influenced Pound to develop his ideogrammic
method but also led him to the firm conviction that the West could not ignore Chinese history and culture because there was much to learn from it.
The image is the basic form of ideogrammic
composition; it is not simply a visual impression but a union of particulars transposed onto the conceptual plane" (xii).