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Publisher Description

What in Futurist discourse may strike one as comical is not merely the extravagance of those recurrent slogans whose purpose is to shock the reader, such as the call to abolish libraries and museums, the contempt for woman, or war as the world's only hygiene, to name a few. Nor is it limited to those moments in which Futurism intends to provoke laughter, through things such as political satire, parody, or outright ridicule of passeism--as found, for instance, in the 1916 manifesto of "La cinematografia futurista," in the image of that anguished hero who, losing his faith in the "defunto scetticismo neutrale," gives an inspired speech to a crowd, when Giovanni Giolitti suddenly appears and, "gli caccia in bocca a tradimento una ghiotta forchettata di maccheroni affogando la sua alata parola nella salsa di pomodoro"; or, in the literal transcription of poetic metaphors into amusing film images, such as Carducci's "il cor mi fuggi su 'l Tirreno" into an image of his heart that "gli sbotta fuori dalla giacca e vola come un enorme pallone rosso sul golfo di Rapallo." (1) Without excluding the above phenomena, Futurism's comical dimension runs deeper. It is ingrained in the movement's cult of the machine and finds expression in the aesthetic mechanization to which that cult often leads, in a kind of merging between the mechanical and the living, which is the phenomenon that Henri Bergson, in his seminal 1900 essay on Laughter, posits as one of the primary conditions of comedy. To discuss Futurism as a movement with a comical bent is by no means unproblematic, given its frantic celebration of aggressiveness and war. The theoretical, both philosophical and aesthetic, scope of these notions, in fact, did not preclude their translation into the movement's interventionist politics vis-a-vis World War I or its alliance with Fascism. The infrequency with which critics address humor in Futurism suggests the existence of a taboo around the subject, one whose moral dilemma Alice Kaplan, in her influential work on Fascism and literature, expresses most adequately: "[...] how can you connect something so funny with something so dreadful? This is where I begin my analysis: futurism is funny, but it is dangerous in its funniness because it has the power to make me stop thinking about its effect" (76). Yet Kaplan's analysis of Marinetti's Mafarka le futuriste, roman africain (1909) speaks only briefly of the disquieting humor that permeates the paroxysmal misogynistic fiesta that is this novel, focusing instead (and for a good reason) on the novel's "dreadful" qualities as a foretaste of the author's affiliation with Fascism (75-92). She addresses humor to the extent that she points out the accounts of Italian Futurism in the form of cartoons found in French periodicals as early as1910, especially in the fascist-leaning Je Suis Partout during the 1930s booming of the cartoon industry (88-90). Nothing could travel better in this age of cartoons, she claims, than Marinetti's fictive heroes: "With laughable indestructibility, they are smashed and stretched in fantastic machines, bullied by natural forces, and ambushed, only to reemerge for a new round of adventures: they beg to be cartooned" (90). (2)

GENRE
Professional & Technical
RELEASED
2009
January 1
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
36
Pages
PUBLISHER
Annali d'Italianistica, Inc.
SIZE
218.1
KB

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