JF Ptak Science Books
“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! They will come against us, our successors, will come from far away, from every quarter, dancing to the winged cadence of their first songs, flexing the hooked claws of predators, sniffing doglike at the academy doors the strong odor of our decaying minds, which will have already been promised to the literary catacombs.”--from the “Futurist Manifesto”, by F.T. Marinetti, 1909
They came for Mr. Marinetti (1876-1944) a little earlier than that, and continued to come, though whoever it was that came couldn’t quite reach the founder of Futurism, who seemed to be one invisible step ahead of oblivion. Or perhaps it was behind? I’m not sure.
But futurism as a movement was more in the past than in the future, barely lasting long enough to have anything but a past.
- This is the cover of a magazine edited by Marinetti and others, a hagiographic-porn hommage to the leader of the Italian fascist government, Benito Mussolini, featuring a very striking portrait of the leader on the cover. (I've seen a note elsewhere stating that the image on the cover is by (Mari Biazzi (1880-1965)) though I could not find any other references for that. Also I'm not sure about the journal, as it comprises the names of two Futurism journals, Mediterraneo Futurista and Fede in Mussolini ("Faith in Mussolini").Apologies for this incompleteness. Mostly I just wanted to share the image given its particularly brutal Brutalist aspects.)
Not that the movement wasn’t important–it was, obviously–its importance branched out into other areas and movements, morphing into necessary branches, leaving behind a shell of the original tended by the originator. (It can be argued that this movement helped create the environment for Dadaism and Cubism [or at least Cubist-futurism as in the Russian sense of that art].) Marinetti had some unsavory and some just downright weird political and social ideas, having a long and vested interest in fascism.1 And not only the earliest part of Italian fascism –founded in 1919 with an interest in expanding the democratic process–but the later, Mussolini-controlled Italian fascism as well. Marinetti sought the protection of Il Duce,2 and even so during the war, when he sought to protect his movement’s art from being designated as “degenerate ” and therefore unacceptable and existence-deniable by Adolf Hitler.
And so the unlikely prolonged existence of futurism--a movement transformed far beyond itself in a matter of years, held together by pieces of fluff and dust, supported in its old age on the hopes of a noxious political system which was itself doomed to rapid failure.
“At last they’ll find us—one winter’s night—in open country, beneath a sad roof drummed by a monotonous rain. They’ll see us crouched beside our trembling aeroplanes in the act of warming our hands at the poor little blaze that our books of today will give out when they take fire from the flight of our images.” –F.T. Marinetti, from his “Futurist Manifesto”, 1909
1. Marinetti's goal was to establish futurism as the official art movement of the government--something he specifically wrote against in earlier incarnations of himself. He would come to loggerheads with much of his earlier social opinions, abandoning his beliefs in his never-ending quest to promote his movement. I must say though that Marinetti did publicly speak against anti-Semitism.
2. Marinetti sought to have the Nazi traveling exhibition of degenerate art--which included works by futurists--banned from Italy. So even though the Nazi fascists established futurism as degenerate, Marinetti was able to enlist the aid of Mussolini to shield Italians from what the Nazis thought of the art. But the futurist manifesto seemed comfortable with the while idea right from the start, as we can see in proposition #9 of its self-proclamation: "We will glorify war – the world's only hygiene – militarism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for and scorn of woman..."