February 20, 2014
People think I am a great reader, but I am actually one of those people who pick up a book and then leave it by the bathtub (I do a lot of reading while taking a bath), especially if its a collection of essays or short stories. Those books take me the longest to finish, due that each piece in the book is sort of complete narrative or thought. Right now I am reading Maurice Blanchot’s “Desperate Clarity” which is a collection of literary reviews he did during the Nazi occupation of France. The most fascinating aspect of the book (so far) is what is not being said, and that silence is so powerful and depressing at the same time. It got me thinking what is not being said, because we are so used to writing that deals directly with an issue, but now and even then, writing is sometimes about everything except that issue.
Another reason why I just have to stop reading this book is because I dropped it in the bathtub. When I go get a bath, I use Japanese bath power which gives the water a nice green visual as well as a smell that conveys the forest of one’s imagination. So as I let that book dry, and myself as well, I go back to bed in the morning to read “The Futurist Manifesto” by F. T. Marinetti, written in 1909 and published in French in the newspaper Le Figaro. My first thought was ‘how crazy that a newspaper would publish something so uncommon as this manifesto. ' Personally, I’m a huge fan of art related manifestos. One of my favorite all-time books (and yes, I haven’t finished that one as well) is “Manifesto: A Century of Isms,” edited by Mary Ann Caws, where one can find “The Futurist Manifesto” in its complete romantic glory.
Marinetti strikes me as a man who is in love with the ideal of man-made world where machinery becomes sort of a God, or maybe not an actual ‘figure’ but the imagination of man (and I am using that gender specifically, because the Italian Futurists were not that hot on Feminism) is alone on a spiritual plane. Some of their basic political ideals are dodgy at best, but one can admire their paintings, poetry, photographs, and I think especially music or sound making. The whole ‘Art of Noise’ aesthetic is something that is still with us, and whenever there is sound, I think that concept is the foundation of our desire to make some music AKA noise. John Cage, was too influenced by The Futurists’ approach to sounds, but he is more of a natural process or liking silence as a form of sound as well. The beautiful photography by Ansel Adams is totally the opposite of Marinetti’s stance against nature, yet it takes a machine, the camera, to photograph what is the ‘ideal’ of nature at its most stunning.
For me personally, the sound of Poison Ivy’s guitar (The Cramps) is the most beautiful sound on the planet. It has roots in “The Art of Noise” but a much warmer sense of chaos and there is a beauty in her performance that is touching as well as sexual and obsessive. The obsession to capture either silence, pure noise, or even structured noise (music) is very appealing to me, in fact I also admire the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu for being on the tightrope between chaos and beautiful order. Marinetti, I think is essentially looking for order within the spirit of the machine age and politics. A zen liked peace in a horror landscape. With that in thought I go back to the bathtub, with a fresh supply of Japanese bath scent of the forest, and continue reading Blanchot’s “Desperate Clarity. ”