This section contains 1,267 words|
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)
Wyndham Lewis and others
SOURCE: "Manifesto," in Wyndham Lewis on Art: Collected Writings, 1913-1956, Funk & Wagnalls, 1969, pp. 27-31
The following piece was the second manifesto published in the first issue of Blast and appeared above the signature of Lewis, Pound, and other members of the Vorticist movement.
- Beyond Action and Reaction we would establish ourselves.
- We start from opposite statements of a chosen world. Set up violent structure of adolescent clearness between two extremes.
- We discharge ourselves on both sides.
- We fight first on one side, then on the other, but always for the SAME cause, which is neither side or both sides and ours.
- Mercenaries were always the best troops.
- We are Primitive Mercenaries in the Modern World.
- Our Cause is NO-MAN'S.
- We set Humour at Humour's throat. Stir up Civil War among peaceful apes.
- We only want Humour if it has fought like Tragedy.
- We only want Tragedy if it can clench its side-muscles like hands on its belly, and bring to the surface a laugh like a bomb.
- We hear from America and the Continent all sorts of disagreeable things about England: 'the unmusical, antiartistic, unphilosophic country'.
- We quite agree.
- Luxury, sport, the famous English 'Humour', the thrilling ascendancy and idée fixe of Class, producing the most intense snobbery in the World; heavy stagnant pools of Saxon blood, incapable of anything but the song of a frog, in home-counties: these phenomena give England a peculiar distinction, in the wrong sense, among the nations.
- This is why England produces such good artists from time to time.
- This is also the reason why a movement towards art and imagination could burst up here, from this lump of compressed life, with more force than anywhere else.
- To believe that it is necessary for or conducive to art, to 'improve' life, for instance—make architecture, dress, ornament, in 'better taste', is absurd.
- The Art-instinct is permanently primitive.
- In a chaos of imperfection, discord, etc., it finds the same stimulus as in Nature.
- The artist of the modern movement is a savage (in no sense an 'advanced', perfected, democratic, Futurist individual of Mr Marinetti's limited imagination): this enormous, jangling, journalistic, fairy desert of modern life serves him as Nature did more technically primitive man.
- As the steppes and the rigours of the Russian winter, when the peasant has to lie for weeks in his hut, produce that extraordinary acuity of feeling and intelligence we associate with the Slav; so England is just now the most favourable country for the appearance of a great art.
- We have made it quite clear that there is nothing Chauvinistic or picturesquely patriotic about our contentions.
- But there is violent boredom with that feeble Europeanism, abasement of the miserable 'intellectual' before anything coming from Paris, Cosmopolitan sentimentality, which prevails in so many quarters.
- Just as we believe that an Art must be organic with its Time, So we insist that what is actual and vital for the South, is ineffectual and unactual in the North.
- Fairies have disappeared from Ireland (despite foolish attempts to revive them) and the bull-ring languishes in Spain.
- But mysticism on the one hand, gladiatorial instincts, blood and asceticism on the other, will be always actual, and springs of Creation for these two peoples.
- The English Character is based on the Sea.
- The particular qualities and characteristics that the sea always engenders in men are those that are, among the many diagnostics of our race, the most fundamentally English.
- That unexpected universality as well, found in the completest English artists, is due to this.
- We assert that the art for these climates, then, must be a northern flower.
- And we have implied what we believe should be the specific nature of the art destined to grow up in this country, and models of whose flue decorate the pages of this magazine.
- It is not a question of the characterless material climate around us. Were that so the complication of the Jungle, dramatic Tropic growth, the vastness of American trees, would not be for us.
- But our industries, and the Will that determined, face to face with its needs, the direction of the modern world, has reared up steel trees where the green ones were lacking; has exploded in useful growths, and found wilder intricacies than those of Nature.
- We bring clearly forward the following points, before further defining the character of this necessary native art.
- At the freest and most vigorous period of ENGLAND'S history, her literature, then chief Art, was in many ways identical with that of France.
- Chaucer was very much cousin of Villon as an artist.
- Shakespeare and Montaigne formed one literature.
- But Shakespeare reflected in his imagination a mysticism, madness and delicacy peculiar to the North, and brought equal quantities of Comic and Tragic together.
- Humour is a phenomenon caused by sudden pouring of culture into Barbary.
- It is intelligence electrified by flood of Naivety.
- It is Chaos invading Concept and bursting it like nitrogen.
- It is the Individual masquerading as Humanity like a child in clothes too big for him.
- Tragic Humour is the birthright of the North.
- Any great Northern Art will partake of this insidious and volcanic chaos.
- No great ENGLISH Art need be ashamed to share some glory with France, tomorrow it may be with Germany, where the Elizabethans did before it.
- But it will never be French, any more than Shakespeare was, the most catholic and subtle Englishman.
- The Modern World is due almost entirely to Anglo-Saxon genius—its appearance and its spirit.
- Machinery, trains, steam-ships, all that distinguishes externally our time, came far more from here than anywhere else.
- In dress, manners, mechanical inventions, LIFE, that is, ENGLAND, has influenced Europe in the same way that France has in Art.
- But busy with this LIFE-EFFORT, she has been the last to become conscious of the Art that is an organism of this new Order and Will of Man.
- Machinery is the greatest Earth-medium: incidentally it sweeps away the doctrines of a narrow and pedantic Realism at one stroke.
- By mechanical inventiveness, too, just as Englishmen have spread themselves all over the Earth, they have brought all the hemispheres about them in their original island.
- It cannot be said that the complication of the Jungle, dramatic tropic growths, the vastness of American trees, is not for us.
- For, in the forms of machinery, Factories, new and vaster buildings, bridges and works, we have all that, naturally, around us.
- Once this consciousness towards the new possibilities of expression in present life has come, however, it will be more the legitimate property of Englishmen than of any other people in Europe.
- It should also, as it is by origin theirs, inspire them more forcibly and directly.
- They are the inventors of this bareness and hardness, and should be the great enemies of Romance.
- The Romance peoples will always be, at bottom, its defenders.
- The Latins are at present, for instance, in their 'discovery' of sport, their Futuristic gush over machines, aeroplanes, etc., the most romantic and sentimental 'moderns' to be found.
- It is only the second-rate people in France or Italy who are thorough revolutionaries.
- In England, on the other hand, there is no vulgarity in revolt.
- Or, rather, there is no revolt, it is the normal state.
- So often rebels of the North and the South are diametrically opposed species.
- The nearest thing in England to a great traditional French artist, is a great revolutionary English one.
Signatures for Manifesto
R. Aldington Arbuthnot L. Atkinson Gaudier Brzeska
J. Dismorr C. Hamilton E. Pound W. Roberts
H. Sanders E. Wadsworth Wyndham Lewis.(read more)
This section contains 1,267 words|
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)