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Marinetti, Filippo Tommaso

Entry updated 24 October 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1876-1944) Egyptian-born polemicist, editor and author, in France from early manhood and subsequently in Italy. As the author of "Fondazione e Manifesto del Futurismo" (5 February 1909 Gazzetta dell'Emilia; trans anon in Exhibition of Works by the Italian Futurist Painters, graph 1912, as "The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism"), he is credited with founding the Futurism movement; "Futurist Manifesto" argues for an epiphanic immolation in the Technology of the new age, citing Iconic instances of new Machines like racing automobiles, or the machine-gun, consanguinous partners in the central task of breaking the world so the future can come through: a goal "futuristically" narratized through an explosive, "cleansing" kinetic of speed: progress made manifest. This kinetic was perhaps most tellingly manifested through extremist readings of the Transcendental dominance of the airplane in rhapsodic passages that augur (if they do not exactly predict) the Pax Aeronautica to come as a gift of war (see below). The Manifesto expectedly anticipates any Future War with glee. The Supermen capable of glorying in the endless paroxysm of energy thus given bodily form will necessarily harry women (see Feminism) and exalt those fellow supermen who grasp political power. Futurism flourished initially, and primarily, in Italy in the years before World War One, and was most vividly expressed through the visual arts; the English figure most conspicuously influenced by the movement was Wyndham Lewis, who nevertheless responded very negatively to Marinetti's Vital English Art (1914 chap) with C R W Nevinson, which continues the argument of the earlier manifesto. Marinetti himself became a convinced Fascist, and does not appear in Bruce Sterling's Pirate Utopia (2016), an Alternate History tale which spoofs the kind of world that Futurists might have envisioned.

Of sf interest is an sf novel written to illustrate his theses: Mafarka le futuriste: Roman Africain (1909; trans Steve Cox and Carol Diethe as Mafarka the Futurist: An African Novel 1998), which describes the feats of a North African dictator who creates, through his masculine rapport with advanced Technology, an Edifice [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] whose aeronautical principles forcefully adumbrate and in fact embody the future. The whole work comprises a grim prolepsis of the Pax Aeronautica if Marinetti's future idols had in fact managed to take over Europe for good, as a Futurist artist and Fascist like Ernesto Thayaht (1893-1959) adumbrated, in his once famous painting "The Great Helmsman" (1939), where the Pilot Mussolini, conceived in the shape of a Robot, lays claim to the next world. [JC]

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti

born Alexandria, Egypt: 22 December 1876

died Bellagio, Italy: 2 December 1944



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