Let us face it, everyone has their own ideals and viewpoints when taking on a certain goal. Now, I am going to discuss the utopian ideas of the Futurist Manifesto, explaining their aims and ideals. This sounds boring (yawn), but soon you will know everything about and beyond the Futurist Manifesto. Sooooooo interesting!!!! Whoop-whoop!!
Utopian ideas regarding the Futurist Movement
- Almost a century has passed since the publication, in the Paris Figaro on 20 February 1909, of a front-page article by F. T. Marinetti called “Le Futurisme” which came to be known as the First Futurist Manifesto. Famous though this manifesto quickly became, it was just as quickly reviled as a document that endorsed violence, unbridled technology, and war itself as the “hygiene of the people.” Nevertheless, the 1909 manifesto remains the touchstone of what its author called l’arte di far manifesti (“the art of making manifestos”), an art whose recipe—“violence and precision,” “the precise accusation and the well-defined insult”—became the impetus for all later manifesto-art.
Marinetti realized that this was hardly an opportune moment for startling the world with a literary manifesto, so he delayed publication until he could be sure he would get front-page coverage for his incendiary appeal to lay waste to cultural traditions and institutions. Several Italian newspapers published the manifesto in early February 1909 or reported its content. Toward the middle of February, Marinetti traveled to Paris, where in the Grand Hotel he composed the introductory paragraphs and submitted the full text to the editors of the prestigious newspaper Le Figaro.
The narrative frame thus prepares us for the violence, power, energy, and sense of urgency of the manifesto itself. By the time, the first proposition is made, Marinetti’s audience has suspended its disbelief, especially since the pronouncements to follow are all uttered by a “We” rather than a more overtly egotistical “I.” Marinetti takes over many formulations from Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, but no longer is the individual subject in command. Rather, the “we” are presented as representatives of the new masses, the factory workers and stokers, locomotive drivers and mechanics who constitute the new “workers of the world.” Never mind that the workers of the world don’t live among mosque lamps and oriental rugs and don’t drive expensive cars or recall their Sudanese nurses as does our poet. It seems, at least on the surface, that, in James Joyce’s words, Here Comes Everybody.
And so we absorb the formulae “1. We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness,” and “2. Courage, audacity and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry”. Who can quarrel with these prescriptions, designed to help Marinetti’s readers move beyond lyric subjectivity and everyday discourse so as to participate in a meaningful project? The third proposition calls for the “ feverish insomnia” we have just witnessed, together with the “racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.” Marinetti’s is a call to arms designed to awaken a listless, habit-bound populace from its long sleep. And so:
We say that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty; the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot—is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
Speed: half a century before the drug by that name came into use, the apotheosis of speed, never mind toward what goal, is celebrated by all the “fast” young men and women young enough to appreciate it.
The apocalyptic note of these lines—a mix of bombast and shrewdness has already been calculated to put the audience into a frenzy. It is now the moment to introduce the controversial war clause:
9. We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—miltarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers [le geste destructeur des anarchistes], beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.
The Marinetti who wrote these words in 1908 was an anarchist-socialist who wanted to rid Italy of the papacy and what was perceived to be the inertia and powerlessness of parliamentary democracy. The “destructive gesture” cited above refers, so Berghaus tells us, to the “spectacular assassinations of Tsar Alexander II (1981) and King Umberto I of Savoy (1900) and the anarchist bomb attacks that shook Paris in 1892-94” —incidents that fascinating Marinetti when he was a young man studying in Paris. But anarchist doctrine didn’t offset Marinetti’s equally strong nationalism: he was enraged, for example, that the Italian-speaking Southern Tyrol was still a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. As for the infamous “scorn for woman,” with which the passage ends, later Marinetti documents make clear that the reference is to “scorn” for traditional bourgeois marriage arrangements, the conventional relationships between the sexes so beautifully satirized in the manifesto “Down with Tango and Parsifal.” Indeed, in an interview made shortly after the Figaro publication of the manifesto, Marinetti paid homage to the “magnificent elite of intellectual women” in Paris vis-à-vis their less enlightened Italian counterparts.
The word “war” has similarly been misunderstood: for the Marinetti of 1909, war meant primarily revolution, a Utopian cleansing not unlike that prescribed by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto. What “war” would really mean when it was declared in 1914 was completely beyond his imagination. Rather, his focus in this and later manifestos is on the need “to destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind”, as if the destruction of museums and destruction of human lives in war were the same thing. The rationale behind these demands is weak, but the rhetoric is so powerful that the “we” who listen are carried along by the manifesto’s own energy and speed. And the crux of the issue comes in the final proposition, which paves the way for the actual artworks made by Marinetti’s fellow futurists, Boccioni and Balla, Carra and Severini, Sant’Elia and Russolo:
We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicolored, polyphonic titles of revolution in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervor of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke; bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with a glitter of knives; adventurous steamers that sniff the horizon; deep-chested locomotives whose wheels paw the tracks like the hooves of enormous steel horses bridled by tubing; and the sleek flight of planes whose propellers chatter in the wind like banners and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd.
The imagery of this visionary passage has been anticipated from the first page of Marinetti’s narrative: the radiance of electric hearts looks ahead to the “violent electric moons,” the “splendor of the sun’s red sword” to the bridges” flashing in the sun with a glitter of knives,” and so on. “Violence and precision,” in this context, also demand economy. Hyperbole works only when it is accompanied by speed. No wonder, then, that Marinetti’s prescriptions were soon realized in specific paintings.
After the crescendo of its final numbered proposition, the manifesto turns more personal, more comic and good-humored. Questioning the necessity of museums and comparing them to cemeteries, Marinetti now bombards his captive audience with questions. Clowning playfully, he calls up the “gay incendiaries” who will “set fire to the library shelves” and “turn aside the canals to flood the museums”. And Marinetti admits that his is a young person’s sport: “The oldest of us is thirty: so we have at least a decade for finishing our work. When we are forty, other younger and stronger men will probably throw us in the wastebasket like useless manuscripts—we want it to happen!”.
Within the decade, Boccioni and Sant’Elia would be dead, killed in the Great War, and the Futurist cénacle of the 1910s would have lost its raison d’être. The call for speed and violence, for overturning the world, was to be answered in sinister ways Marinetti could never have anticipated. But then, as he declares at the end of his 1909 manifesto, “We don’t want to understand.” Art, in his view, must move beyond understanding, beyond reason, to create its own mode of being.
What makes the First Futurist Manifesto such a poignant document is thus its place on the cusp of an era it has largely misapprehended. The “great crowds excited by work, by pleasure” turn out to be the masses of soldiers dying in the trenches, and the desired “revolution” paves the way for the Fascism of the 1920s. Yet we should remember that Utopianism, the projection of an idealized future that may well have nothing to do with reality– is at the very heart of the manifesto form—a form rooted, not in the future it conceives of so boldly, but in the immediate present of its author and audience.
The “love of danger,” the habit of energy,” the “beauty of speed”: these make up a complex that gives the present moment its pungency and charm. And the reader, who participates in the moment of declamation along with the poet, has no time to ask questions or draw inferences. The manifesto’s dramatic, breathless “speedy” prose, embodying the very qualities it celebrates, becomes an end in itself (Marjorie Perloff; http://marjorieperloff.com/stein-duchamp-picasso/marinetti-revisited/#ixzz24kawl39R).
Cool, hay? Now you know what the heck was going on in their minds… hahahaha we know all their secrets…. Mwah hahahaha (just joking guys, sorry). But yes, it is necessary to know what you want in order to get it. The Futurists strived to reach their ideals in order to let themselves be heard. I think it is not such a bad idea if we all decide on our utopian ideas before we take on a task.