Brooke Boutwell and Miranda Dabney
Brooke and I chose the word Music to look at in The Egoist and The Crisis. We originally chose BLAST, but had some issues getting into Voyeur with BLAST, so we chose The Crisis to replace it.
In The Egoist, some of the most frequent words used were life, man, and new. From this, we can tell that the magaznie's focus was to talk about humanity and life, what happens in the lives of the readers or people like the readers. The word "music" peaks in volume 5, issue 6, an issue which also references Poetry and The Little Review. There are 25.75 uses of the word "music". Among those mentions of music, there is an article about Debussey. The issues tied for lowest number of "music" mentions, with zero mentions, are volume 1, issue 2; volume 5, issues 8 and 9; and volume 6, issue 4.
This lab helped us to explore more of what it means to close read using Voyeur tools. Using the graphs and other tools to track words across different magazines helped to link what different issues focused on as well as figure out where certain words were more prevalent to narrow down issues and articles with the specific interest word.
As Peppis says in his article, the Vorticists "fight for a future in which Britannia rules not only waves, markets, and industry, but culture as well" (131). Peppis's reading of BLAST II, specifically Lewis's "The Crowd Master," parallels a similar thematic presence regarding crowds in The Crisis. "Lewis's text defines participation in a crowd as a state in which more primitive instincts subdue the promptings of reason," Peppis argues, and "participation in a crowd is an 'anesthetizing' of self that can inspire persons willingly to die for country" (111). BLAST II blurs the strict boundaries between individual and community (crowd), which he established in BLAST I. This Blast negotiates with community while trying to maintain the Vorticist's intellectual ivory tower. In "Artists and the War," Lewis suggests, "The Public should not allow its men of art to die of starvation." Here, he almost reaches out to the public for patronage. He, then, distances himself from this implicit requests, somewhat passive-agressively, as he states, "But as the English Public lets its artists starve in peace time, there is really nothing to be said." Peppis's argument and Lewis's "Artist in the War" reveal Lewis's, perhaps only momentary, contemplation of cooperatingpublicly.
The June, 1918 issue of The Crisis similarly creates a tense negotiation between individual and public. Du Bois positions the "Foreign" and "Ghetto" sections of "The Horizon" beside each other. These news bulletins juxtapose foreign and domestic events for African Americans, creating a dialogue about race and war. One item in the report recognizes Corporal V. E. Johns Lee for "conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty... Under heavy shell fire, he remained on duty at his post in a particularly exposed position." Although the report mentions that Lee was with "the advanced troops" (or, the avant-garde), the article heightens the sense of his isolation by naming only him among the other members.
On the same page, in the "Ghetto" section, Dubois lists the lynchings that had taken place since the last recording. These reports do not go into detail, but, I think, all lynchings carry connotations of mob madness/the crowd and individual isolation. In Poplarville, Miss., "Claud Singleton, [was] hanged." He "was accused of murdering a white man. He had been sentenced to life imprisonment." Du Bois intentionally positions these two sections in order to connect their thematic similarities. In each report, an individual African American is surrounded by people. The thematic work of these two reports subvert lynch mobs by making them synonymous with military (Prussian) aggression. The presumably white lynch mob echoes the attack on Corporal Lee, thus making lynch mobs unpatriotic.
Both The Crisis and BLAST evince support for World War I as a general theme. However, both magazines also tie the war to their own existing causes. The Crisis ties fighting the Great War to fighting racism, and asserts that winning the war will mean a better place for African-Americans in society thereafter. BLAST II, meanwhile, claims that the war between England and Germany is a war between modernism and romanticism or passeism, and thus allies itself with the patriotic English cause.
Within The Crisis, World War I is treated as a comeuppance for Germany and the evils of imperialism, as well as an opportunity for African-Americans to show their patriotism and secure a more comfortable role in American society through their service. This is hinted at in the issue of October 1914, but develops to a greater extent in the June 1918 issue. The first issue of The Crisis features two pieces that deal expressly and extensively with the war.
The first, "Of the Children of Peace," is filled with antiwar sentiment. The author draws a comparison between the pretty rhetoric of wartime bravery with its images of "tall, handsome men, all gold and silver and broadcloth," and the realities of wartime brutality, in which men were "naked and dirty,with sodden, angry, distorted faces... they dragged, not pale and leaden guns, but pale and bounden women" (289). The piece claims that "The cause of War is Preparation for War," and that such preparation is caused by "the Hatred and Despising of Men" (290). Thus, though the piece is an anomaly among the others discussed here in that it finds no good in war at all, comdemning it as destructive and cruel, it ties war to considerations of racism, purporting that war is caused by hatred.
"WAR" also depicts war as brutal and heartbreaking, with its "smoking houses and ravished daughters" (297). However, unlike the previous piece, which seems to call for an immediate end to war, the author of "WAR" ultimately states that the present war must continue, for though the people mourn their suffering, they also rejoice at the destruction of their enemy. Therefore, the Lord will let the fighting continue, for "As they have sowed/ So shall they reap" (297). Thus, the war is depicted as a necessary evil, which must be endured for the punishment of the nation's enemies.
The June 1918 issue of The Crisis falls more strongly in favor of the war, with no pieces that are discernibly against the war. Moreover, the issue emphasizes the role of African-American soldiers in the war to a far greater extent.
Within the Editorial section, the magazine not only praises the valiant efforts of black soldiers but claims that as a result of such efforts, "never again will darker people of the world occupy just the place they have before. Out of this war will rise... an American Negro, with the right to vote and the right to work and the right to live without insult" (60). Thus, the writers of The Crisis tie the war against Germany to their own more personal war against racism, both by suggesting they come from common causes, as seen in 1914's "Of the Children of Peace," and by suggesting that winning the Great War will be a victory for racial equality, as seen here.
BLAST, similarly, ties its own efforts to create a Vorticist artistic movement to the war effort, arguing that modernism was allied with England and that the true enemy of both entities was German romanticism. Paul Peppin in his piece "'Surrounded by a multitude of other Blasts': Vorticism and the Great War" argues, "The war against Germany, now cast as the principal foreign enemy of the only true modernist empire, gives the Vorticists a new means of affirming their patriotism" (98). This bears out in an examination of BLAST II's contents.
The Editorial in BLAST II claims that Germany "has stood for the old Poetry...This paper wishes to stand rigidly opposed, from start to finish, to every form that the Poetry of a former condition of life, no longer existing, has foisted upon us... Under these circumstances, apart from national parizanship (sic), it appears to us humanly desirable that Germany should win no war against France or England" (5). The tone of the magazine, here allying modernism with England and France, differs greatly from its treatment of the same in BLAST I:
In BLAST I, two pages from which are displayed above, the authors both Blast and Bless England. They do not explicitly ally themselves with the nation. Rather, they see both modernist and antimodernist things about it. It is only with the coming of war that BLAST ties the cause of modernist art to England and to English victory in the war.
Thus, both The Crisis and BLAST take an overall pro-war stance. However, both do so not just by a show of patriotism, but by tying the pro-war cause to the causes that each magazine is already deeply concerned with: for The Crisis, anti-racist work; for BLAST, the spread of Vorticism.
In looking at the June 1918 issue of The Crisis and its treatment of World War I in relation to BLAST! II , I was struck by the overt nationalism present in each magazine. This nationalist tendency was especially striking given the dissenting tone of previous issues of each magazine. Wyndham Lewis’s “Constantinople Our Star” emphatically states that “[a]ny German claim to World-Dominion would be ludicrous. The modern Englishman is naturally better liked abroad than the modern German, apart from politics” (11). Unlike the Blasts that targeted England in the previous issue, Lewis’s attack here is aligned with the rampant Germanophobia that Paul Peppis identifies in “‘Surrounded by a Multitude of Other Blasts’: Vorticism and the Great War” as central to the propaganda of the British government (98). By comingling his critique of German aesthetics with the broader public discourse surrounding World War I, Wyndham Lewis imbues both the vorticist movement and his view of World War I with a nationalist tone. In similar fashion, John D. Swain’s “A Lost Dialogue of Plato” exemplifies a nationalist allegiance while maintaining the primary purpose of The Crisis – critiquing the social structures that actively oppress African Americans. The dialogue leads to the recognition that “those in authority, and whom you as a good citizen obey, have seen fit to choose this barbarian to be a captain in the fight; and it may be supposed that, being a Macedonian, he needs not blows but encouragement rather, that he may offer up his life for his friends rather than waste it for those who spit on him” (64). While the implicit message in the dialogue is the recognition of the merit of African American soldiers’ service during World War I, Swain creates an ironic distance in his critique. Unlike the pointed, journalistic critique of the racist views and actions underlying mistreatment of African Americans in “Segregation,” Swain’s piece veils this same critique, rendering it less direct. In doing so, he implicitly exemplifies a nationalist mentality that seeks to align the primary goal of The Crisis with an unwavering support of America.
Although similar in their embrace of nationalist sentiments, The Crisis diverges from BLAST! II in its treatment of art’s relation to war. In the editorial that opens BLAST! II, Lewis exclaims that “[w]e will not stop talking about Culture when the War ends!” (5, emphasis his). By juxtaposing culture and war in this manner, Lewis creates an implicit connection between the two. Furthermore, the exclamation makes clear that the discourse of aesthetics in BLAST! is expressly concerned with its relation to war through this alignment of culture and war. This perceived interrelation between World War I and art is further expressed in the Vortex of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, which Erin has astutely discussed elsewhere on this blog. In direct contrast with BLAST!’s conception of war and literature, The Crisis depicts the two as mutually exclusive, giving more attention to war than art. This relationship is most expressly stated in the difference in the obituaries of Major James Walker and Roscoe Jamison. In direct contrast to the immense detail given to Major Walker (pictured to the left), the Personal section of The Crisis tersely explains that “Roscoe C. Jamison, the promising young Negro poet, is dead” (86). The incongruous attention paid to the deaths of these two individuals – both to be held to some merited esteem – underscores both the perceived differentiation between art and World War I and the emphatic focus on war in this issue of The Crisis.
Sculptor and Vorticist Henri Gaudier-Brzeska contributed two Vorteces to Blast before his death, which occurred about one month before the release of the second issue. In Blast 1, Gaudier-Brzeska's Vortex is included among multiple other Vorteces, in a section demarcated for "Vorteces and Notes by Wyndham Lewis." Following an image of the iconic Vortex cone is an image of one of Gaudier-Brzeska's drawings, "Stags," which opens the section. Gaudier-Brzeska's Vortex contribution follows after some additional pages that are dedicated to visual art, multiple Vorteces by Lewis, and a Vortex by Pound.
Gaudier-Brzeska's Vortex contributions to Blast 1 and Blast 2 initially caught my attention because of differences in layout between the two issues, as well as inconsistencies in content in Blast 2. As I mentioned earlier, his contribution to Blast 1 is part of a section dedicated to Vorteces, whereas in Blast 2, his contribution is located on pages 33-34 near the middle of the issue, separate from the other designated "Vortex" by Lewis on page 91. Additionally, his Blast 2 Vortex is followed by an announcement of his death, "MORT POUR LA PATRIE." The next page contains an image entitled "Snow Scene," which could be understood to imply death. Despite the fact that Gaudier-Brzeska's death is acknowledged in Blast 2, the note attached to the top of his contribution uses tenses that treat him as still living. Furthermore, in Lewis's notes on "The London Group," he explicitly writes about Gaudier-Brzeska as being alive when he discusses the shells that Gaudier-Brzeska draws that "have not killed him or changed him yet." I am not sure about whether these inconsistencies are editorial mishaps of Lewis's, whether Lewis learned of Gaudier-Brzeska's death so close to the date of publication for the second issue that he did not have time to adjust the content of the issue, or whether they were left as they are intentionally (although I cannot guess why this would be the case).
Regardless, the inconsistencies prompted me to take a closer look at the bibliographic coding between Gaudier-Brzeska's Vortex contributions to the two issues. I noticed that the bibliographic code of Gaudier-Brzeska's Vortex from the second issue seems to support the more personal, affective tone of the contribution, as it is compared to the Vortex from the first issue, in terms of the heading and the usage of capitalization and underlining. Gaudier-Brzeska's Vortex in Blast 1 is headed:
In Blast 2, on the other hand, his Vortex bears the heading:
(Written from the Trenches)."
The usage of periods and line breaks in the heading of his Vortex in the first issue seem to function to title the contribution and attribute it to its author. Certainly, the heading in the second issue serves the same function, but the absence of periods and line breaks in the second issue seem to blur the distinction between title and author to suggest that the second Vortex is more personal to Gaudier-Brzeska, an argument which could further be supported by its linguistic code. In Blast 1, Gaudier-Brzeska only refers to himself at the end of his contribution, as a member of "WE the moderns," along with "Epstein, Brancusi, Archipenko, Dunikowski, [and] Modigliani." In Blast 2, however, Gaudier-Brzeska uses the first-person extensively to describe how his experiences fighting in World War I have impacted his views on art.
The bibliographic code of his contribution to Blast 2 further implies the Vortex to be personal through its usage of capitalization and underlining. The second Vortex begins with the statement, "I HAVE BEEN FIGHTING FOR TWO MONTHS and I can now gauge the intensity of Life." The usage of capitalization and underlining work to connote the intensity that he reports himself to be "gaug[ing]" in that the usage of capitalization is much more extensive than it is in his contribution to the first issue. Moreover, unlike his Vortex from Blast 1, which uses no underlining, much of the body of the text is underlined in order to emphasize the ways that participation in the war has impacted Gaudier-Brzeska's perspectives on art and Vorticism.
Despite the fact that he begins the Vortex with commentary on the destruction that the war has caused to both people and animals, the intensity seems to be more directed to art. He asserts that "IT WOULD BE FOLLY TO SEEK ARTISTIC EMOTIONS AMID THESE LITTLE WORKS OF OURS" to begin a long string of capitalized statements, which lead up to a final remark on art: "I SHALL DERIVE MY EMOTIONS SOLELY FROM THE ARRANGEMENT OF SURFACES, I shall present my emotions by the ARRANGEMENT OF MY SURFACES, THE PLANES AND LINES BY WHICH THEY ARE DEFINED." He continues to provide an anecdote about having stolen and carved an enemy rifle, and the anecdote is printed in normal casing, save for the phrase, "ACCORDING TO ITS SLOPES" and the word "IMAGE." After the gun anecdote, he provides a final statement to emphasize "[. . .] that [HIS] DESIGN got its effect (just as the gun had) FROM A VERY SIMPLE COMPOSITION OF LINES AND PLANES." The emphasis created by the capitalization and underlining is, again, focused on artistic design, rather than on the brutality of the war or the rifle. The emphasis on art using capitalization is consistent with his contribution to the first issue, but it seems to be far more intense in the second, particularly when it is paired with the underlining.
The differences between BLAST Issues 1 and 2 are most prominent in the editorial content of each magazine. The first issue of BLAST makes a big visual impact, demanding the engagement of the eye as well as the mind. Even the "Manifesto" on page 30, which is a somewhat ordinarily organized list, is emphasized with boldness, capitalization, and two numbering schemes. Additionally, its title is not only bolded but also underlined and ends with a period, giving it a tone of finality and authority.
The second issue, by contrast, looks a great deal more sedate, even conventional. The note on the war that begins the issue (after the title page and contents) sets a sobering tone for the rest of the issue, and it seems as though the typography has sobered right up with it. The font is uniform and only adds emphasis with a few simple underlined words. The monolith of text that makes up the editorial emphasizes solidity and unity, adding an air of stability to an Editorial fraught with uncertainty about the future of the country and the magazine as a result of war and its aftereffects. It underlines the determination of its author that, as he says, "We will not stop talking about Culture when the war ends!" (5).
Other differences between the foci of the two issues are most readily apparent in each issue's treatment of the "Blasts" and "Blesses." Issue 1's "Blasts" and "Blesses" seem integral to the magazine's existence. They are introduced, in fact, with an entire page devoted to the word "MANIFESTO" and a small ilustration.
Furthermore, they take up a full eighteen pages, emphasized by large numbers, variations in font and boldness, and a halting, near poetic style of sentence construction, as in page 13:
OH BLAST FRANCE
Issue 2's "Blasts" and "Blesses," by contrast, are relegated to the back of the magazine, and take up only a single page each. They have become marginal to the magazine's focus, almost unimportant in the face of all the other topics Lewis and his cohorts wish to address. Furthermore, rather elaborating on the "Blasts" and "Blesses" with descriptive poetical language, the material is presented as simple lists:
While the typography and design of the editorial content in issue 1 draws attention to the radicality of the issues and reads as confrontational and innovative, the design of issue 2 emphasizes the solemnity of war and creates a feeling of unity and cohesiveness among the material.
I think the most obvious differences in bibliographic coding between Blast 1 and 2 [War Number] is the amount of white space. In the first Blast, Lewis covers each page with large, black font, embedding an aggressive tone directly into the material. In the second Blast, however, he has standardized the font and spacing, perhaps disguising it as one of the bourgeois newspapers he would have criticized. Each bibliographic code, as Bornstein argues, flavors the linguistic code with certain meanings. I focused most on Eliot's "Rhapsody of a Windy Night" in Blast 2. Before I get into this, though, I'll post an item that Wyndham Lewis wrote:
"The inhuman and sentimental side of things, then, is so important that it is only a question of how much,
if at all, this cripples or perverts the inhuman plastic nature of painting" (p44 image46).
Lewis's insistence on the materiality of painting informed my reading of Eliot's poem. The streetlights that the speaker passes "Dissolve the floor of memory / And all its clear relations, / Its divisions ans precisions" (p50 i52). The concept of dissolving, and the musical rhythm of the rest of the poem, heightened Lewis's bibliographic coding, specifically the many white pages. In Blast 1, a "vortext" would appear at the bottom of many of the pages, demarcating the end of that work. It also symbolized, I think, Lewis idea of the vortex: all words and noises cascading into a single implosive point. Blast 2 seems to be dealing with an opposite, less volatile bibliographic code. Eliot's poem dramatically ends, "Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life. / The last twist of the knife." The next page is completely white. I'm not sure how this blank page functions exactly. I'm torn between feeling peaceful or feeling void. The whiteness of the page embeds the calmness of Eliot's use of "sleep." This "sleep," however, is the twist of the knife. The War Number is ironically more relaxed, even boring at times. Lewis and Eliot, read in this context, emphasize the soft, dissolving lull of words and materials during the war era.
Although Eliot isn't in the first issue, I used Pound's poems, specifically "Fratres Minores," as a counter example. These poems appear after the "Manifesto's" and continue their aggressive tone. "Fratres Minores" fascinates me because of the censored lines blurred across the texts. I'm not sure if those censored marks are the original printing of Blast or if they were added on by the owner. (The words seemed to be censored because Pound uses "testicle." Do the censors castrate the text somehow?) Here is the complete poem. Pound attacks French poets he considers are still fumbling for answers Ovid has already provided. Immediately after Pound's lyrical assault, Edward Wadsworth's "Cape of Good Hope" appears on the next page. It takes up the entire page and sustains the forceful tone of the "magazine." The right side of the page is cluttered and heavy with ink, directing the viewers attention form left to right and insisting on the movement of the text. The next page is blank, likely because of the practical problems of ink bleeding through. "The Cape of Good Hope" takes on an ironic meaning next to Pound's satire of some French poets. Lewis uses the materiality of ink and paper to heightened the linguistic codes of Pound's vitriolic words. For me, these two pairings (Eliot-Lewis and Pound-Lewis) help to explain the different messages each Blast tries to convey.
There's a possibility that the original Blast 1 has a page between Pound's poem and "The Cape of Good Hope." Instead of underminding my argument, though, I think this would just point out that the computer screen—MJP site is the actual bibliographic coding of both of my readings.
In examining the similarities and differences between the two issues of BLAST, I have chosen to focus on the bibliographic code of the first Ezra Pound poem in each issue. I chose this as my primary focus because Pound’s poetry occupies a similar space in each issue – coming after what seems to me to be the first section of each, the Manifestos in No. 1 and the “Notes on War” in No. 2. Rather than comparing different moments within each issue, my hope is to explore how the bibliographic code exemplifies itself to be both static and dynamic in a section shared in each issue.
The bibliographic code functions consistently in affording content-based similarities between the poems and what has preceded them to emerge from formal elements of the poem, primarily the titles and typeface. The title of Pound’s first poem to appear in the first issue of BLAST – “Salutation the Third” – out of context can be read as simply a move on the part of the speaker to directly address the reader, drawing the reader more fully into the text. However, this title becomes imbued with a richer meaning when “Long Live the Vortex!” and both "Manifesto I" and "Manifesto II" that precede it are taken into consideration. Given this context, Pound’s title would appear to introduce the poem as serving a similar function – namely, an introduction to and elucidation of the tenets of the Vorticism movement. By numbering the poem, Pound strengthens this notion of its interconnected function, as it can be read as the third successive introduction, following the editorial and manifesto introductions. Similarly, “Dogmatic Statement on the Game and Play of Chess” – the first Pound poem in the second issue of BLAST – can be interpreted as merely a statement on the focus and inspiration of the poem’s speaker. However, the emphatic statement of both purpose and subject aligns this poem with the “War Notes” that it follows. This relation between Pound’s poetry and the materials that precede them is further strengthened through the typographical elements employed by Pound in each poem. The poems can be read as extensions of the material that precede, as “Salutation the Third” employs a similar capitalized typography to the Manifestos, while “Dogmatic Statement on the Game and Play of Chess” mirrors the more traditional typography of the “War Notes.” The similarities in typeface draw a visual connection between the pieces in much the same way as the titles create a contextual link. From these connections created through the bibliographic code, similarities in content emerge between the Pound’s poetry and the material occurring before it in BLAST. Pound’s assertion, given the bibliographic coding of the poem, in “Salutation the Third” that “I will not go mad to please you. / I will not FLATTER you with an early death” (22-3) can be read as a statement not only of the speaker’s view towards critics, but also a coextensive view within the broader movement of Vorticism. A sentiment which is reflected in the Manifesto II’s assertion that “there is violent boredom with that feeble Europeanism, abasement of the miserable ‘intellectual’ before anything coming from Paris” (34). Likewise, the recognition that “their moves break and reform the pattern” (7) in “Dogmatic Statement on the Game and Play of Chess” speaks both to the poem’s focus on the aesthetics of chess and also the larger concern with World War I, as Lewis earlier explained that he feels “that War won’t go. … Everything will be arranged for the best convenience of War. Murder and destruction is man’s fundamental occupation” (16). In creating connections to the earlier pieces of their respective issues of BLAST through both the title and typography, the bibliographic code of Ezra Pound’s first poem functions similarly across both issues, which may be in part to their similar placement within each issue and the consistent editorship of the magazine.
Although the bibliographic code can be read as functioning similarly amongst the two issues, it can also be seen as distinguishing the issues from each other in regards to the Pound poems. The most apparent distinction between the poems is their typography. As previously mentioned, “Salutation the Third” contains emphasized words in all capital letters and a larger font than the poems that follow it. In doing so, the poem is endowed with a significance both in its visual prominence in comparison to the other Pound poems and its aforementioned visual similarity to the Manifestos. Conversely, the uniform typeface amongst all of the Pound poems and the “War Notes” that precede it in the second edition of BLAST endow a sense of democracy amidst the pieces, as they are all given equal visual attention on the page. Another significant difference is the piece of art – Etchells’s “Hyde Park” – that precedes Pound’s poem in the second issue. By inserting visual art between the prose and poetry, “Dogmatic Statement on the Game and Play of Chess” can be read both in its relation to the prose of “War Notes” and the visual elements of this piece, an opportunity that is absent in the first issue of BLAST. The placement of Etchells’s piece could also be read as having a distancing effect between Pound’s poetry and “War Notes,” as it literally interrupts the flow between the two. These differentiating functions of the bibliographic code could possibly be the result of the perceived primary purpose of each issue. With the need to garner attention to, explain, and justify the burgeoning movement of Vorticism, the first issue attempts to create direct, visual connections between the poetry of Pound and espoused tenets of the Manifestos, while the second issue seeks to more closely connect the poetry with the art in juxtaposing them directly.