It seems to be a good time for manifestos, in the old style. The last five years hasn’t been the only time in history where little magazines (or just ‘zines) have existed with great abundance. One of the greatest periods for little magazines was at the turn of the (previous) century — the little review, BLAST, The Owl, The Tyro etc all represent small modernist magazines which almost all came with a manifesto of some kind. My favourite is of course the one which was put together by Ezra Pound and Wyndam Lewis — BLAST:
Naturally, the first thing you need to ask is what the Post Office did wrong. Some of it was tongue in cheek, but really it’s an expression that they’re done with the previous lump of culture, as it stands, and want to move to their new classicism. The modernists of London (principally an American and a man born on a Canadian barge) had fun with their typefaces, and aligned themselves with the somewhat fascistic futurists. You know, that love of the power of machines and destruction (God, can you imagine a world where people mistook their fetishization of automation as a philosophy?).
Anyway, this fertile ground of exciting modernism only arrived in the UK in 1908 (when Ezra stepped off the boat) and sadly, much later than our continental cousins. So, while we had our moments of joyous modernism, it was cut short by a world war. And fetishizing progress through the power of machines and the glory of metal destruction doesn’t seem so appealing to the masses, once those machines are tanks rolling over your family members.
The reason I am talking about this is because I bumped into a witch manifesto, and I think that the lads should stand with the witches. They sound like the revolutionaries we need, in these strange times. Remember, your mother was a witch.
Your sister, too. Not that I should need to remind you of these things. Naturally, a witch is a woman who exerts power without it being given to her. Remember your literary witches.
What I love about a manifesto is that it presents a kind of magic future to you, one full of the energy and anger promised in the document before you.
It promises that you will be back in the driving seat of your own life. It presents a simulated world that doesn’t really exist, but if you propel yourself forward hard enough with it, it might exist.
And for some reason, the wild typography of these is important. You need to say it very loudly, take over the page — create an artefact that is indisputable as an artefact. It’s real, and only needs to reference itself to exist.
I did say that I would talk about Baudrillard a bit this week, but I don’t think I have time to break away from the simulated power of the world to do so.
But it is worth saying that we’re currently living in world where what is real is not what is understood as real or authentic — and we are a long way from from it now. The simulation only requires itself as a reference point. The more people push back against the inauthentic world with another inauthentic one, the better.
While speaking a little of myth-making (what better way is there to enjoy a Friday evening?), this David Leham Poem Mythologies is a pretty good time. Built out of an appraisal of oppositional approaches to life, love, the bus and what to do in summertime — but who with? It’s a long one, so settle in and read it all here.
J Dilla — Don’t Cry (I know it’s old but it’s still good. To be honest I’ve been listening to a lot of Mouth Moods — which is not news, but good. If you’ve not seen the @tinysubversions interactive essay on how J Dilla builds his chops up, do yourself a favour.)
Etch To Their Own #4 was written by @CJEggett and proofread by no one. If you spot a typo, let me know. If you know someone who might like this sort of thing, then please get them sign up or get them to have a read of old issues over here. If you have a suggestion as to where to go next, please drop me an email by replying to this one. I promise I will leave Ezra out of the next newsletter, but will now tell you that I’ve recently learnt of his own translation of his first work A Lume Spento which he transposed in his usual fashion as: Tapers Quenched