Vital Matters: Sovereignty, Milieu, And the Animal in Futurism's Founding Manifesto (Manifesto of Futurism) (Critical Essay) - Annali d'Italianistica

Vital Matters: Sovereignty, Milieu, And the Animal in Futurism's Founding Manifesto (Manifesto of Futurism) (Critical Essay)

By Annali d'Italianistica

  • Release Date - Published: 2009-01-01
  • Book Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Author: Annali d'Italianistica
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Vital Matters: Sovereignty, Milieu, And the Animal in Futurism's Founding Manifesto (Manifesto of Futurism) (Critical Essay) Annali d'Italianistica read online review & book description:

This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the publication of F. T. Marinetti's "Founding Manifesto of Futurism" in Le Figaro, but the "celebrations" of Futurism and indeed the modern avant-garde generally started some years earlier in a number of reflections by contemporary European philosophers. Gone, though not forgotten, are Peter Burger's and Paul Mann's tolling of the bells for the death of the avant-garde in the late 1980s. Today, instead, we have Alain Badiou, who in The Century turns his attention to the European avant-garde in order to make an argument about the nature of art and humanity as does Peter Sloterdijk in Zorn und Zeit, though for radically different ends. Sloterdijk reads the modern avant-garde as shock troops meant to intimidate the masses in an early form of shock and awe. Clearly, it is once again fashionable to speak of the modern avant-garde. In the following essay, I too want to return to Marinetti and Futurism by taking up the question of the meaning, or better the meanings, of life as they emerge in the founding manifesto. Drawing upon recent philosophical reflections from Europe and in particular what has come to be called, after Foucault, biopolitics, I will be making a series of arguments about aliveness and death in the manifestos. Before properly beginning, however, a word is in order on this return to Marinetti in 2009. Rather differently from my earlier readings of the manifesto, I am less interested in Marinetti's impatience with the past or his encounter with early twentieth-century communication prototypes. (1) Instead I prefer to raise the question of vitalism and forms of life in the manifesto by focusing on Marinetti's attempt in the founding manifesto to revive a primordial, mythic past via an animalization of the Futurist through which the modern and the mythic are conjoined. Said differently, I am interested in seeing Marinetti's aesthetics as posed principally between progress and regression in terms of life itself, or seeing human progress through humanity's "regression" towards the animal. In my view the perspective on modernism that emerges in the "Founding Manifesto of Futurism" cannot be separated from a biologization and animalization of life that qualifies it as primitive and as originating in an earlier period. I read the manifesto, therefore, as a kind of seismograph of life and death in the first fifteen years of the twentieth century.

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