i-ItalyNY - 2014-06 - page 6

century.You could be swayed by the rhyme of
sentimental poetry, swept up in the insistently
rich orchestrations of Brahms or return to
relive Beethoven’s peasants dancing in a ring
far from the city as a storm approaches. Or
you could return to the inevitably tragic view
of love embodied by Goethe’sWerther or the
plight of Byron’s prisoner of Chillon.
Or, you could accept the noise, the sound, the
friction and the dynamism of a new century,
of a post-industrial revolution world where
screeching noises, the palpable friction of steel
running on rails, the persistent smoke puffing
from a chimney 75 feet tall, or the thrill of
commanding a horseless carriage at 25 miles
per hour with a foot pedal.You could accept it
and embrace it, let it permeate your new 20th
century sensibility as you rode off with a bang,
not a whimper.
You could open your soul and make it one
with the newmechanistic order of things.You
could see a future for expression that matched
the future of life in the new interdependent,
fast, steely, two-lanes-ahead world.
Into this milieu came a movement that
declared itself a revaluation of values. In the
1880s no less a figure than Nietzsche, living
between Italy, Switzerland and Germany,
called for exactly that: a revaluation of all
values. Other philosophers, poets and artists
followed suit, as the antique drum faded
and a new sound emerged. And the Italians
were, as usual, among the first to champion
a new order in art, a “now”movement that
wholly embraced the shimmering body of
the industrial revolution. Marinetti and his
followers cried, Make war. Exult in bombs.Turn
the impersonality of this world into a structure
for art, architecture, music, food and every
part of life.They looked ahead to the inevitable
remaking of society and its worldview.
Futurismwas born as a
modus vivendi
, a way
of living and seeing and hearing.The art
hanging on the walls of the museums seemed
“lifeless” to them, vague and sentimental
relics. Futurists found master works self-
indulgent, decadent, unresponsive to the
evolving new order—the same way, I suppose,
a young person today might see newspapers
or printed books or sea voyaging in the age of
the Concorde.
by Steve Acunto
What was the future like in 1909?
The world had changed as never before, or so
it seemed.There were no precedents.
Imagine if you can the way the future looked
to the best minds in turn-of-the-century
Europe. Imagine if you can the sudden impact
of the Industrial Revolution of the 1880s.
Imagine the heart-stopping, world-changing
mechanical inventions at the time, just like
our world-changing inventions today.
What did the future look like to Filippo
Tommaso Marinetti in 1909 Paris?What
did it look like for the Italian artists, poets,
architects, cooks and expats in Paris, Milan
andTurin?Yes, the world had changed as
never before, or so it seemed.There were no
precedents, no paradigms to study.The past
was slow and teary-eyed; the present, an
electric jolt.
They were troubling and confusing times.You
could look backward and embrace the sweet
and melancholy 1800s, the 1879 of Vienna, or
the Romantic world of the early and mid 19th
To theFuture
June-July 2014
it containsnonoise, no
surpriseblasts, no
color, noviolence.
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