This chapter examines the relationship between the concepts of Ubermensch and superuomo to insist upon the unique character of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's concept. It explains how the principle of a superuomo contributed to the gender discourse within Futurist art. Evidently Marinetti's concept of superuomo is far more akin to the traditional superhero, augmented as he is by technology and born outside normal reproductive circumstances. The chapter also examines the nature of Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche's concept. The concept of Ubermensch was distorted in the rhetoric of German National Socialism. Rather, the strength and heroism of the Ubermensch is in his knowledge and acceptance of inexorable human immanence. Nietzsche and Marinetti shared the same dream for a transformation of society, but Nietzsche's mandate for mental transcendence is in direct contrast to Marinetti's longing for physical transcendence.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on Futurist manifestos and links Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's techniques of self and group promotion in his Manifestos with practices in the expanding realm of commercial advertising. It explores Futurism's complex relationship with Dada and some of the dialogues and conflicts within Futurism. The book examines the reasons why Wyndham Lewis and his colleagues, who had enthusiastically embraced Futurism in 1913, rejected it in early 1914, questioning its revolutionary credentials and its failure to integrate avant-garde abstraction. It considers a series of unique examples of innovative expressivity in Italian Futurists' free-word poems and dipinti paroliberi. The book also explores cinema's contribution as a metamedium to an understanding of the interconnections between old and new art forms, in order to create a common language suitable to the new times.
This chapter introduces the various scientific and popular lines of discourse that influenced and informed Leonid Andreev’s sense of self and his relationship with neurasthenia. Of equal importance is the impact that Andreev had as a major contributor to the popular discourse of pathology in the Russian fin de siècle. His illness experience as an acute neurasthenic was informed by numerous medical and popular factors that were ultimately distilled into his literary works, leading to his unprecedented success and popularity. By re-examining Andreev and a nation’s anxiety over its own perceived moral corruption and physical devolution, Andreev once again comes into focus as one of the leading literary voices of his age.
This chapter tracks the exposure of Futurism to its German constituency before considering in particular how early Dada experimentation in 1916 negotiated the relation to its Italian antecedent. The Futurist orchestrator's grandiose tumult had mustered its destructive potential as the explosive incendiary novel, la bomba-romanzo esplosivo, performed the book's auto-deconstruction, with the explosion 'at its centre literally shattering typographical convention into distended fragments'. The power and 'magic' of the spoken word became tangible in the sound poetry that ultimately resisted the visual renderings of the Futurist poems or, elsewhere in the context of Dada, the visual renderings of Raoul Hausmann's optophones. Dada's burning heart became the sound poetry that Hugo Ball elaborated upon in order to apply in the break-up of the structures and inhibitors of his own world.
The themes of nutrition and digestion fascinated Filippo Tommaso Marinetti for much of his career. The beginnings of this interest can be traced to his pre-Futurist play Le Roi Bombance, published in 1905, in which the eponymous obese king is concerned only with satisfying his enormous appetite. In La cucina futurista, the separation of food and nutrition has further value than simply allowing people to devote more time to artistic pursuits. La cucina futurista is a text that is deeply embedded in the rhetoric and ideology of the Fascist regime and, in some respects, can be interpreted as a critique of it. This chapter suggests that corporeality is just as fragile a concept in Marinetti's French play as it is in his Italian Cookbook. It also suggests that a continuum of ideas exists between them, specifically with regard to the relationship between eating and creativity and between eating and identity.
In June 1904, newspaper Courier ceased to exist after a prolonged period of financial difficulties. This meant that Andreev now had to earn his livelihood solely as a creative writer. The heady times of his initial success gave way to a period of significant political upheaval and personal loss. Andreev’s life was turned upside down by the deaths of both his youngest sister and his wife, while his works began to reflect his own political ruminations, if not vacillations. This chapter concentrates on the ways in which madness interacts with Andreev’s personal and fictional narratives of loss and rebellion. The central focus is the period 1904–08, although many of the sections in this chapter are organized thematically rather than in strict chronological order.
Occultism and the metamorphic self in Florentine Futurism
This chapter explores the specific texture of the Florentine cultural milieu in which the group of L'ltalia Futurista operated. It focuses on the work of one of its representatives, Irma Valeria. In 'Occultismo e arte nuova' Valeria elucidates her aesthetic position. The chapter determines what the different shades of blue, together with illuminated nights and skies, stand for in this writer's vision of the world, and in her conception of gender and the self. It intends to build upon previous scholarship on gender issues in Futurism, focusing especially on the paradoxical virile aspects of new female subjects that the women of the movement emphasised in order to gain more power and recognition. The chapter shows the cultural roots of a new type of metamorphic self (a type at times female, and at others gender neutral), and its political implications in the context of early twentieth-century Italian society.
F. T. Marinetti’s Il tattilismo and the Futurist critique of separation
At the Theatre de l'oeuvre in Paris, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the founding father of Futurism, presented what he claimed to be a new form of art: Tactilism, or the Art of Touch. He read aloud Il tattilismo. Manifesto futurista that he had allegedly conceived the summer before while bathing in Antignano, on the Tuscan coast near Livorno, and that he had penned for the occasion. The Manifesto of Tactilism belongs to a transitional period in Marinetti's activity, after the euphoric early years of Futurism and the demise of the movement during the First World War. As a genuine avant-gardist invention, tactilism was designed to become an instrument to implement a total revolution of perception, reconfiguring social and living experiences of the human being, to obliterate the modern separation between art and life praxis.
This chapter shows how the works of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Arnaldo Ginna and Bruno Corra, among others, led Futurism to achieve the total work of art. Their experiments reveal some interesting relationships with the concept of metamedium. The chapter argues that the conception of Futurist cinema links naturally with, and probably helped to spawn, the modern-day explosion in digital multimedia. The idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk survived in the Futurists' techniques of agglutination, which represents the main link with present-day multimedia arts. For Maurizio Scudiero and Enrico Crispolti, The Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe was a milestone between the first and second phases of Futurism. One of the reasons that led Futurists to defend interdisciplinary fusion was their willingness to assimilate the elements of modern life into their works. Before avant-garde movements, Futurism announced its enthusiasm for cinematography with the publication of The Futurist Cinema.
Gli indomabili (The Untameables) is one of the most intriguing allegorical narratives Filippo Tommaso Marinetti wrote. Gli indomabili was published in 1922, during a period in which Antonio Gramsci, the intellectual leader of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) whose politics too revolved around language, began to take a rather active interest in Futurism. The PCI's predominantly conservative aesthetic had unleashed a heated debate on the distinct roles of the artistic and the political avant-gardes, waged in left-wing newspapers and periodicals such as Gioventu Socialista and Avanguardia. As Marinetti subsequently decided to continue Futurism under the constricting conditions of Mussolini's Fascism, the brief dialogue between Gramsci and Marinetti's movement also ended. Throughout Gramsci's prison writings, reference is made to how to construe an alternative, counter-hegemonic language with which a wide variety of social groups could identify.