Monday, April 10, 2017
The Futurism is Nowism
Walking into a used bookstore small enough to sense the passing of a professor and the recent delivery of his or her boxes by his or her spouse, children, estate handlers.
Kelowna's High Browse is one such store. I was there a couple weeks back and picked up the kinds of books only dead professors leave behind -- in this instance, Anne Hyde Greet's translation of Guillaume Apollinaire's Alcools (Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of C Press, 1964) and Let's Murder the Moonshine: Selected Writings of F. T. Marinetti (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon, 1991), with its excellent "Introduction" by editor R. W. Flint.
(Click here for Marinetti's account of the founding and manifesto of Futurism.)
It was while reading Flint's intro that I came upon a passage from the end of Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". We all know what this essay is about, and we refer to it often (the first episode of Berger and Dibb's BBC TV2 Ways of Seeing is indebted to Benjamin), but do we remember Benjamin's assessment of Fascism and its parade car, Futurism?
Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into public life.
A relevant quote when considering how the Canadian government has given First Nations symbolic power (increased arts support) but not political economic power (sovereignty). Same too for arts organizations who capitalize on exorbitant rents by offering slight market rate discounts to artists leasing studios in the properties these organizations manage.
* Ironman poster by http://rodolforever.deviantart.com