Prudence in Hell 054
Put it on BLAST
Vorticism (1914-15) may be the most undervalued and anti-mimetic of vanguards; an unsustainable experiment, albeit comparable in daring and in power to any better lauded member of its cohort.1
It “presents an art of Individuals” (opposed beyond all possibility to any prospect of retvrn). It stands against “content,” on both sides of the [s]word. It is willing to convert kings.
(A VORTICIST KING! WHY NOT ?)
It mentions a man with no organs while excoriating both the expert and the amateur. It curses and blesses both countries with Matters, and illustrates why each one matters differently from the other. It is responsive, rather than reactive. It celebrates the mercenary arts. It sets Humour (”the sudden pouring of culture into Barbary”) against itself: as agon, to which Tragedy and its sunken costs must rise. It identifies a “[permanently primitive] Art-instinct”. It is the Sea Peoples of the avant-garde, attacking every manner of Impressionism, up unto Futurism. It is beholden not to Nature, nor to ‘Life’, but to ANOTHER Life.2 It understands Shakespeare, and Kandinsky, and Feng Shui. It polemizes with Picasso’s celibate-machines, embracing more profuse, promiscuous ones. It is against Realism, except when it is for it, as befits a new “Order and Will of Man”.3 It repudiates Romance, but leaves a kind page in for the “almost” romantic (dead) friend. It resituates the Artist in uncertainty, and puts the Policeman in his place, depending on his province. It makes room in the back for a near-Spenglerian art-historical survey of vortices by the martyr Gaudier-Brzeska.
Life is the Past and the Future.
The present is Art.
There is no Present—there is Past and Future, and there is Art.
The creative-destructive impetus it shares with others. The explicit denunciation of mimesis is its own. It is not a one-off, either: BLAST 1 brings it, twice, at Pound’s hands:
“The vorticist relies not upon similarity or analogy, not upon likeness or mimicry.”
“The vorticist will not allow the primary expression of any concept or emotion to drag itself out into mimicry.”
Indeed, the vorticist cannot, because he will use “only the primary media of his art.” And what is the primary pigment of poetry?
It is almost a footnote in Guillermo de Torres’s exhaustive Historia de las literaturas de vanguardia (1965, pp. 474-75).
“The Vorticist does not suck up to Life.
He lets Life know its place in a Vorticist Universe!”
“Will and consciousness are our VORTEX,” writes Gaudier Brzeska, near ending. Wyndham Lewis practically opens with “WE NEED THE UNCONSCIOUSNESS OF HUMANITY—their stupidity, animalism and dreams.”
Pound does not include drama among the arts (music, literature, poetry, design, painting, sculpture and dance), but drama includes all the arts. The proof is in the pudding: BLAST 1 comes with a whole play by Lewis, Enemy of the Stars, “VERY WELL ACTED BY YOU AND ME.”