Russian and Italian Futurist Manifestoes

Lawton, Anna 1976. Russian and Italian Futurist Manifestoes. The Slavic and East European Journal 20(4): 405-420.

The Russian Futurists proudly stressed their independent origin and rejected the possibility of any Italian influences. The Italians, on the other hand, claimed to be the only legitimate Futurists, primarily because of the chronological priority of Italian Futurism. Majakovskij, Kručenyx, and Xlebnikov made various attempts to disprove this claim, but without success. On the occasion of F. T. Marinetti's trip to Russia in 1914 the polemic reached its climax in an open confrontation, about which Benedikt Livšic gives a detailed and at times hilarious report. (Lawton 1976: 405)
These names are beginning to sound all too familiar.
Russian and Italian Futurism share many traits which reveal a common heritage. Futurist ideology is rooted in Nietszche and Bergson, its aesthetics in French (and Russian) Symbolism and Impressionism, and its technical devicel in Cubism. (Lawton 1976: 406)
Good to know, I guess.
In his lecture, "The Achievements of Futurism" ("Dostiženija futurizma," 1913), he stated: "The city enriched our experiences and impressions with new urban elements, which the poets of the past did not know. ... Telephones, airplanes, expresses, elevators, rotating machines, sidewalks, factory chimneys, stone colossi, soot and smoke - these are the elements of beauty in the new urban landscape." Marinetti maintained that the new urbanistic design had produced "a loathing of curved lines, spirals and the tourniquet" and "love for the straight line nad the tunnel." Majakovskij seems to make a specific allusion to this sentence, when he says, "In the city there are no smooth, measured, curved lines: the angles, the broken lines, the sig-zags are the characteristics of the urban picture" (454). He also stresses, in agreement with Marinetti's views: "... the main thing is that the rhythm of life has changed. Everything acquires the speed of the lightning. ... Frenzy is the symbol of the tempo of contemporary life. ... Poetry must correspond to the new elements of the contemporary city's psyche." (454.) (Lawton 1976: 408)
Powys on the other hand argued that the city does enrich our experience sand impressions but to such a degree that it's difficult to achieve solitude (productive aloneness).
Anti-feminism, intended as the lejection of sentimentality and effeminate poses, is introduced by Marinetti in "Pondazione e Manifesto" and reiterated on several later occasions. This theme is shared by the Russians and taken to an extreme degree by Vadim Šeršenevič. his translation of "Fondazione e Manifoste" reads: "We celebrate ... the contempt for the woman - for us there is no difference between a woman and a mattress" (Futurizm bez maski, 47). (Lawton 1976: 409)
There is a big difference between rejection of sentimentality and effeminate poses and outright contempt for women.
The last part of "A Slap in the Face" introduces an element which is lacking in "Fondazione e Manifesto," and which will become the most effective point for the Russians in their struggle for independence from the Italians. The Russians created the concept of the "autonomous word" (samocennoe slovo), which later was developed by Kručenyx into "the word as such" (slovo kak takovoe) and constituted the basis for his elaboration of "transrational language" (zaum'). (Lawton 1976: 409)
Herein lies the core tenet of Russian Formalists as well (e.g. how the words as such lead to the literature as such or the concept of literaryness).
The reduction of the language to its essential parts (substantives and verbs in the infinitive) will provide the poet with a medium suitable to fill the gap between perception and expression. The new literary medium will therefore consist of "liberated words" related to each other by analoy, according to the principle of "wireless imagination," that is, "without the aid of syntactical conducting wires" (98). Kručenyx opened his "Declarations of the Word as Such" ("Deklaracija slova kak takovogo") with this assertion: "Thought and speech do not keep up with the emotional experiences of the poet, therefore he is free to express himself not only in the common language (concepts) but also in his own (individual creator), and in a language which does not have a definite meaning (not crystallized), transrational. The common language binds, the free language allows one to express oneself more completely." (63.) (Lawton 1976: 410)
Hmm. This is where zaum (transrational language) meets autocommunication and specifically the "private message systems" (or personal signs).
The disorder advocated by Marinetti must not be understood as a haphazard combination of sounds and images, however, but as a carefully orchestrated expression of his perception of reality. (Lawton 1976: 411)
Cf. Ruesch's subjective understanding of social reality (in his communication model in operation).
Marinetti's idea of literature was that of a total art. In his opinion, only the poetic form which in its verbal, visual, auditory, tactile, and olfactory elements reproduces the dynamism of a molecule, can bring a new content to literature. He therefore declared: "... three elements hithero overlooked in luterature must be introduced: 1) Noise (manifestation of the dynamism of objects); 2) Weight (objects' faculty of flight); 3) Smell (objects' faculty of dispersing themselves)." ("Manifesto Tecnico," 88.) (Lawton 1976: 414)
Cf. academia.edu label ""New" senses in art: touch, smell, taste".
"The word as such" is not a mindless, purely phonetic utterance; rather, as part of a poetic system it is necessarily a signifier, even though what it signifies is purposely obscured. (Lawton 1976: 416)
A surprising connection between the poetic function and semantic noise.


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