in class work on the Futurist Manifesto

Look at the last part of Marinetti’s futurist manifesto that was not included in the pdf handout I gave you:

  1. What does Marinetti have against museums?
  2. What do you think about this statement: “Art, in fact, can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice.” What does it mean? What do you think is urging Marinetti to write this? Can you think of reasons to agree with this statement?
  3. What do you think of this statement: “You have objections?—Enough! Enough! We know them… We’ve understood!…Our fine deceitful intelligence tells us that we are the revival and extension of our ancestors—Perhaps!… If only it were so!—But who cares? We don’t want to understand!… Woe to anyone who says those infamous words to us again!” Why does he want to embrace the irrational? What’s to be gained from the irrational, from lack of understanding?
  4. In the “Manifesto of the Futurist Painters,” they conclude with the following:

With our enthusiastic adherence to Futurism, we will:

1. Destroy the cult of the past, the obsession with the ancients, pedantry and academic formalism.

2. Totally invalidate all kinds of imitation.

3. Elevate all attempts at originality, however daring, however violent.

4. Bear bravely and proudly the smear of “madness” with which they try to gag all innovators.

5. Regard art critics as useless and dangerous.

6. Rebel against the tyranny of words: “Harmony” and “good taste” and other loose expressions which can be used to destroy the works of Rembrandt, Goya, Rodin…

7. Sweep the whole field of art clean of all themes and subjects which have been used in the past.

8. Support and glory in our daytoday world, a world which is going to be continually and splendidly transformed by victorious Science. The dead shall be buried in the earth’s deepest bowels! The threshold of the future will be swept free of mummies! Make room for youth, for violence, for daring!

Do these statements hold true for us today? Do we still need to free ourselves from “the cult of the past”? Do we still need to free ourselves from “all kinds of imitation”? Why the embrace of madness? What’s problematic, do you suppose, about the use of the words “harmony” and “good taste”? Why the embrace of the everyday, the “day to day world”?


I am an Associate Professor of English and Intermedia Arts, Writing, and Performance at the University of Colorado Boulder. I'm the author of Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound and co-editor of the Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media.

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