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Futurist Manifesto

Italian original text below

Manifesto of Futurism

This document was issued to provide a concise collection of Futurists' thoughts, beliefs and intentions, in a declaratory form. It might be an interesting text to read because, in the synthesis of articles, it can allow a sharper comprehension of a cultural evolution in Italy at the beginning of the century, meant as an intellectual avant-garde to what will a few years later result in the birth of Fascism. Relationships between Futurism and Fascism honestly are not generally admitted (among the many distances, between them there is WWI), but the extreme violence of this manifesto could help explaining why Fascism had the opportunity of succefully using its typical nationalistic style and look.

 
What was the limit of Italian literature at the end of "Ottocento" (19th century), its lack of strong contents, its quiet and passive laisser faire, is immediately fought by Futurists (see art. 1, 2, 3) and their reaction will include the use of excess, which will proof the existence of a dynamic surviving Italian intellectual class.

In the period in which industry is growing of importance in all Europe, Futurists need to confirm that Italy is present, has an industry, has the power to take part into the new experience, will find the superior essence of progress by its major symbols: the car and its speed (see art. 4). Nationalism is never openly declared, but is evident.

Also, Futurists intend confirming that literature will not be overtook by the progress: it will absorb progress in its evolution and will demonstrate that progress had to be the way it is because Man will use progress to sincerely let explode his nature, which is made of instincts. Man is reacting against the potentially overwhelming strengh of progress, and shouts out his centrality. Man will use speed, not the opposit (see art. 5 and 6).

Poetry, the voice of spirit, will help Man to consent his soul be part of all that (see art. 6 and 7), indicating a new concept of beauty that will refer to human instinct of fight.

The sense of history cannot be left aside: this is a special moment, many things are going to change into new forms and new contents, but man will be able to pass through these variations, (see art. 8) bringing with himself what comes from the beginning of civilisation.

One of most particular articles in article 9, in which war is defined as a sort of need for the health of human spirit, a purification that allows and benefits idealism. Some have said that this definition by Futurists will have influenced mass movements that a few years later will consist of totalitarism, mainly in Italy, Germany and, in a different form, Russia. The heavy provocation included in article 10 is a logical consequence of the whole above.

It has to be noted that this manifesto appeared well before any of the facts of this century that commonly are immediately recalled as a potential concrete meaning of this text, had happened. And many of them could not even be imagined yet. Russian one is the first revolution "described" by article 11, but it happened several years later.

Translated text

  1. We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.
  2. Courage, audacity, and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry.
  3. Up to now literature has exalted a pensive immobility, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt aggresive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.
  4. We affirm 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.
  5. We want to hymn the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit across the Earth, along the circle of its orbit.
  6. The poet must spend himself with ardor, splendor, and generosity, to swell the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.
  7. Except in struggle, there is no more beauty. No work without an aggressive character can be a masterpiece. Poetry must be conceived as a violent attack on unknown forces, to reduce and prostrate them before man.
  8. We stand on the last promontory of the centuries!... Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.
  9. We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.
  10. We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.
  11. We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicolored, polyphonic tides 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.


For those who know Italian language, the violent breaking effect of manifesto can be even more evident, noting that no one of the words here used is casual; if not the precise form, at least the roots of these words recall those more frequently used in Middle Age, particularly in Rinascimento (Renaissance).

IL MANIFESTO DEL FUTURISMO

  1. Noi vogliamo cantare l’amor del pericolo, l’abitudine all’energia e alla temerità.
  2. Il coraggio, l’audacia, la ribellione, saranno elementi essenziali della nostra poesia.
  3. La letteratura esaltò, fino ad oggi, l’immobilità pensosa, l’estasi e il sonno. Noi vogliamo esaltare il movimento aggressivo, l’insonnia febbrile, il passo di corsa, il salto mortale, lo schiaffo e il pugno.
  4. Noi affermiamo che la magnificenza del mondo si è arricchita di una bellezza nuova; la bellezza della velocità. Un’automobile da corsa col suo cofano adorno di grossi tubi simili a serpenti dall’alito esplosivo...un’automobile ruggente, che sembra correre sulla mitraglia, è più bella della Vittoria di Samotracia.
  5. Noi vogliamo inneggiare all’uomo che tiene il volante, la cui asta ideale attraversa la Terra, lanciata a corsa, essa pure, sul circuito della sua orbita.
  6. Bisogna che il poeta si prodighi, con ardore, sfarzo e munificenza, per aumentare l’entusiastico fervore degli elementi primordiali.
  7. Non v’è più bellezza se non nella lotta. Nessuna opera che non abbia un carattere aggressivo può essere un capolavoro. La poesia deve essere concepita come un violento assalto contro le forze ignote, per ridurle a prostrarsi davanti all’uomo.
  8. Noi siamo sul promontorio estremo dei secoli!...Perché dovremmo guardarci alle spalle, se vogliamo sfondare le misteriose porte dell’impossibile? Il Tempo e lo Spazio morirono ieri. Noi viviamo già nell’assoluto, poiché abbiamo già creata l’eterna velocità onnipresente.
  9. Noi vogliamo glorificare la guerra - sola igiene del mondo - il militarismo, il patriottismo, il gesto distruttore del liberatori, le belle idee per cui si muore e il disprezzo della donna.
  10. Noi vogliamo distruggere i musei, le biblioteche, le accademie d’ogni specie, e combattere contro il moralismo, il femminismo e contro ogni viltà opportunistica e utilitaria.
  11. Noi canteremo le grandi folle agitate dal lavoro, dal piacere o dalla sommossa: canteremo le marce multicolori e polifoniche delle rivoluzioni nelle capitali moderne; canteremo il vibrante fervore notturno degli arsenali e dei cantieri, incendiati da violente lune elettriche; le stazioni ingorde, divoratrici di serpi che fumano; le officine appese alle nuvole per i contorti fili dei loro fumi; i ponti simili a ginnasti giganti che fiutano l’orizzonte, e le locomotive dall’ampio petto, che scalpitano sulle rotaie, come enormi cavalli d’acciaio imbrigliati di tubi, e il volo scivolante degli aeroplani, la cui elica garrisce al vento come una bandiera e sembra applaudire come una folla entusiasta.



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