Ezra Pound (1885-1972) and Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)
Images in poems, such as those in Ezra Pound’s In a Station of the Metro, present a feeling or insight as it happens in an instant of time. At least this is how images are understood in what has come to be called the Imagist movement. This was Pound's understanding. He was a primary founder of the movement.
Process philosophers and theologians, influenced by the philosopher Whitehead, see the whole of life, indeed the whole of the universe, as an unfolding of instants of time. Or, better, moments which create transitions that we call "time." They speak of these instances as occasions of experience or actual occasions. Process philosophers and theologians believe that they are the building blocks of reality. Human lives unfold in instances, and so do the lives of other animals and the energy-events within the depths of atoms and stars.
Such instances, drops of experience, can seem fragmentary and finite compared to the whole of the universe. But from a process perspective these moments are concrescences, or gatherings, of the universe itself in that moment. William Blake spoke of seeing heaven in a wildflower and the universe in a grain of sand. Process philosophers see the universe in a moment of time and, for that matter, in each specific moment of time, in its specificity.
From a process perspective, the togetherness of the universe in a given moment is a gathering of many things, in disjunctive diversity, as they are being gathered into conjunctive unity. The many are becoming one, while not losing their diversity. They are held together, in the moment at hand, through what Whitehead calls contrasts: juxtapositions where the connections may or may not be articulated through conjunctions, but which are together either way. Sometimes conjunctions can get in the way of understanding the togetherness in the moment, because they turn the togetherness into a linear process, when in fact the togetherness is a simultaneity and the items that are "together" may have no obvious linear connection. One item - petals - may come from a source in the past actual world that is quite different from another - faces in a crowd. Still they are together in the instant, as experienced by the narrator of the poem, and the purpose of the poem is to present the togetherness.
This togetherness need not have "meaning" to have meaning. It need not signify a message about the universe or the world or God. It is its own message. It is the suchness of what is, as a concrescence of the universe. This suchness is its value.
- Jay McDaniel
Influenced by the poetic theory of TE Hulme and by the style of Japanese Haiku, Imagism emerged as a movement spearheaded by Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle, Amy Lowell and others, revolting against the looseness of texture of the Georgian poetry, and endorsing a concept of condensed poetry that
1) abandons conventional materials and versification, 2) is free to choose any subject to create its own rhythm, 3) uses common speech, and 4) presents an image or the writer’s impression of a visual object or scene, using a metaphor or by juxtaposing two diverse objects without indication.
These ideas were forward by Amy Lowell in her preface to Some Imagist Poets. Pound defined an image as an intellectual and an emotional complex in an instant of time. The typical Imagist poem presents such an image using verse libre rendering precisely and tersely, with utmost concentration, as be exemplified in Pound’s In a Station of the Metro."