Maintenant nous permettre de discuter la musique et la poésie...

At the turn of the twentieth century, the world of classical music, much like the rest of the literary and artistic world, was undergoing revolutionary change in regard to what was considered tasteful and acceptable. If one were to review a basic timeline of the eras in classical music, they would note the very separate structure in these various eras, as well as particular attributes pertaining to the music of those respective times. To the connoisseur of classical music, identifying a musical work's historical origin is as simple as listening to a piece. When considering classcial music as has been made known to the world, France was never particularly prominent in producing great works until towards the end of the classical era. Its height is certainly noted to be within the Romantic era, while music's earlier roots held stronger in the Italian and Germanic world. The Romantic era spread throughout Europe in the nineteenth century, giving France the breadth to exhibit its emotional musical granduer; therefore, it is no suprise that when music began to break from its classically structured roots into the contemporary, experimental realm, France was once of the first nations to take the leap. French composer Claude Debussy is renown today for his contributions to the world of music. A genuine iconoclast, he was one of the first composers to break from the necessity of establishing melody: heresy to the old pricks at the conservatoire! Debussy had, in his mind, a genuis that not only revolutionized the world of music, but the critical way musicians use their inner ear. By experimenting with cacophany and the structure behind music theory, what was generally and concensually considered pleasing to the ear, Debussy delved into the world of music. His concern and attention to overtone was inclusive in his delicate musical practice. (An overtone is a rung tone that is audible as a result of the virbrations produced from a chord that is played; however the overtone is not actually struck on the instrument.) In 1911, amidst the most unusual of Debussy's experimental phase, towards the end of his life, Rollo H. Meyers, published an essay, "The Art of Claude Debussy" in Rythym. It is quite obvious that Meyers' held Debussy in high regard as a misunderstood genius conveying his radical "hip new beat" to the old conservative musical ear. Debussy's work in the field today has claimed its place in it's genre, along with the works of his progressive thinking contemporaries such as Maurice Ravel and Cesar Franck. His career marks the turn of the century and rite to the Impressionist, Modern music throne. Composers such as Britten and Vaughn- Williams in Britain were next to follow, and a great deal of what is know of American music by composers like Barber, Menotti, and Copland fall under this field; however, none of these said composers truly made their statement until after World War I. In the Germanic world? Contemporary music did not hit Germany or Vienna until even later! France led this race for certain.

In skimming these documents, it is more than apparent that French appears quite often as a device. Often the title or an epigraph can be found in French, while the rest of the piece is in English. It seems as though France, or the French language held an enigmatic claim to the bohemian tendencies of the Modernist movement. Le Petit Journal des Refusees carries it in its title, as do many poems and works in the archives. "Abstrosophy" is a short poem that discusses present struggle in its progressive state towards becoming reward; what seems negative now, will be held positive forthcoming, (much like the rebuke of Debussy's compositions). The first half of the poem is somewhat illegible, if it is even part of the poem. It seems to be set to music, but the staff it is written on is artistically curvy, and askew, which seems relevant to the ideas expressed about Debussy's musical style, although one would never attempt to read music off such a staff, so it must be meant as an artistic statement about music. Written in 1896, years before the article on Debussy's later work, the poem seems to foreshadow the Modernist movement that is coming. The word abstrosophy is not in the dictionary, nor is it a French word. I am plagued with curiosity: what does abstrosophy mean?

Who are YOU?

Reading TO DON QUIXOTE the first time around, I was not sure what to take from it. I had never read the novel about Don Quixote and didn't really know the story line. After reading the Cliff Notes about the Novel, I re-read the poem and thought many different things. Could Massingham be comparing himself to the Don? Could Massingham be comparing the depressions that the Don experienced with those that people around him were experiencing? Maybe Massingham experienced those depressions himself? So I decided to Google his name, and didn't find very much. What I did find was that his main subject was of rural English life from pre history to the 20th Century. I did not see anything written about him having a wife or children. I also read that he was unable to finish school because he was ill.

Massingham wrote this poem six months after World War I ended. He starts off the poem with the word "YOU." Obviously, he's addressing the Don throughout the entire poem, but it's possible that there is another audience that he is addressing. I think that there are different "you's" that he is addressing throughout the poem. Firstly, I bellieve that he is talking to the soilders that just came back from fighting in the war. Secondly, there is a change in tone after the first semi-colon and I think that Massingham begins to address you - the reader. And lastly, after the second semi-colon Massingham addresses the Don. In the first line, Massingham speaks to the soilders and says that they have traveled the world and now they are back home. "What is dull, wonted, formal, stale/ Magnificent Has Been." Massingham is trying to say that now that they are back from the war they don't think that their travels and what they saw is magnificent anymore. Now it's not the rest of the world that's magnificent, it's their home town that they are happy to see. Then Massingham begins to speak about the war to the public. I believe that Massingham is taking a more nonchalant approach when addressing the general public. It's as if he's letting the reader know, "hey, by the way this is what's goes on during a war on the battle front." I believe that the last two lines Massingham addresses "the late Don." I believe that Massingham thinks that Don Quixote went to heaven after he passed. It's possible that Massingham thought the Don went through a lot in his life - physically and emotionally - and now he will be at rest in heaven.

Men and feelings

With in the poems Torment by ... and Le Maudit by .... the reader encounters men who are over come with emotion.

      In "Torment" the man claims his independence from a womans hold as he longs for her kiss. The narrator describes the character as being trap in an endless battle with himself and with the woman he is running from. He see her in the eyes of every woman he comes across but claims he is his only master and is no susceptible to her temptations. The character is tormented by the very thought of her grace. The narrator uses imagery to bring forth the mans passion towards the woman.
     The comparison of tears in the poem "Le Maudit" is of water of a woman and tears of blood of a man. Distinguish the differences between the sorrows of a man and woman. The man walks around showing all signs of grief and unhappiness. He is left with nothing and sits alone in the dark waiting for the end of his misery and the comfort of death. The analogy of tears and blood shows the drive he once held for life. After all the years of "blood sweat and tears" the man has nothing to show for it and is pity by his piers.
     In these poems the reader is face with men who deliver a different message than one is accustomed to. These men are over powered by their feelings and cannot mask the pain they feel. This distinguishes the difference in the concept of a modern day writer and that of periods such as the romantic and Middle Ages. Men were seen to be fearless and heroic while sweeping the fair lady off their feet. I'm the modern poems described above the narrator sheds light on a different man who feared failure and is overcome but the power of a woman’s beauty.





Fusion of Form and Content in The Owl

              In Movements, Magazines and Manifestos Malcom Bradbury and James McFarlane outline some of the tendancies of Modernisms, "As in all sects, religious or political--and it was on such analogues that the movements formed and acted--'ism' tended towards schism, denominationalism. So they appropriately rallied followers, mounted displays, and enacted themselves in public"(Bradbury 202). Much in line with this school of thought, The Owl, a modernist magazine publishing only three issues, ran two plays and a monologe performance piece titled "The Golden Whales of California A Poem to be Chanted: by Vachel Lindsay," in which Lindsay sings praises of Californians calling them, "Limber double jointed lords of fate" (Lindsay 31).

               Amid the margins of the poem, the author includes directions for the poems public performance, refering to the speaker as "the Rhapsodist," giving such cues as "the Rhapsodist reminiscent"(31) and "with good pomp and cheer"(31). There are even cues for the crowd which the author assumes the speaker to be addressing, he directs them, "You all join in" (31). By using these cues, Lindsay makes use of the predominate modernist method noted by Bradbury and McFarlane, "fusion of form and content"(Bradbury 202). The content of the poem acts much like a proprietors brochure to enlist midwesterners to work in the California fruit fields, but instead of impetus towards labor, the author rallies the crowd toward the freedom exemplified by Californians. Had the poem not been given the acting cues, it would have simply compelled through written word, but by demanding action, the form mirrors the content which similarly incites action. 

Eeveryday People

I choose to look through "The Saturday Evening Post" becasue it sounded more like a newspaper than an journal and I felt that it would cater more to the everyday person than to the literary critic. I was right. Looking through this newspaper I found advertisements selling typical household items such as food, clothing, razors, and furniture. In addition, just by scanning the story titles I feel that the stories themselves had to do with regular people; for instance, "Professional Farming," "Railroad Expenses and Earnings," "Who's Who--and Why?" The advertisment that jumped out the most for me was for Van Camp's Baked Beans. Firstly, because the advertisement had it's own page and secondly, because it had a lot of writing. I mentally compared this advertisement on the second page of the newspaper to those that I would find on the second page of the New York Times now-a-days, and I don't think that they are similar in any way.

When I first took a look at the advertisement I noticed the picture on the top right hand side of the page, where a man is pointing to something and a woman is sitting by a table preparing a meal. At first, I thought the man was ordering the woman to do something while the woman was preparing the mans supper - a fairly typical picture in my mind of the late 1800's and early 1900's. Then I read the sentence directly to the left of the picture - "Don't Bake Any Beans for Me" - and I inferred that the man was telling the woman this. The statement threw me off, since I was not expecting such a statement from a man during that time period. I decided to look into what was going on during the year before this magazine was published (this edition was published in early January 1911). My research showed me that there were some changes to the way women were doing their daily chores and how they were living their lives. For instance, in early August, Alva Fisher patented the electric washing machine, giving women more free time, giving women more free time during the day. Another interesting event that caught my eye, in early November, Washington State allowed to vote in their election. Also, the LAPD allowed a woman to join the police force, making her the first female police officer. Basically women started to hold a more important role in society.

Since there was a shift in the woman's world, it was easier for me to accept the advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post. Then the women were being looked as consumers, not inferiors. It's possible that other Journals have somewhat similar advertisements. Maybe not in the same layout or with the same content but definitely with a similar background, which considers women as consumers. Any thoughts?

Three Items from Two Decades


"Portrait de Nos Contemperains," a drawing published in 1896, in Le Petite Journal des Refusees, stands in stark contrast with two other items from the year 1911: an advertisement for Sapolio household cleaner from The Century Magazine, and a poem titled "The Year That's Awa.'" The first shows hints of nonsensical humor, and absurd artwork which was the precursor to Dadaism and Surrealism. The second two examples show much more conventional thoughts just as Modernism was coming into existence--the advertisement gives a sense of women's cultural roles at the time of publication, and the poem shows sentiments that are still alive and well today, but using language that is outdated.

The portrait from 1896, drawn by the editor of the magazine, James Marrion, is fractured by a crucifix shaped object which could also be seen as a window pane, with each square showing one fourth of a man's figure. The result is a pieced together portrait of apparently an anonymous person, and it is surrounded by skeletons which appear to embrace one another vaguely. One skeleton has a long tail, but appears human otherwise. The advertisement for soap is certainly dated when it says that one can not keep house without both a "bright woman" and Sapolio. The statement that the soap will be the "willing servant of bright women everywhere" could suggest the more modern idea of women's empowerment, but is still an old-fashioned idea. The poem published in the first month of the new year in 1911 is surrounded by a few ornamental drawing details, and uses language that might be that of the casual male of the time and place, London, in which it was published. The word soldier is spelled "sodger." The speaker pays honor to the women loved in the past year, and the overall tone is one of a drinking song, or poem in this case, with the line, "Here's to the year that's awa'/ We will drink it in song and in sma'..."

Sexual Drawings in Rhythm

    There are lots of drawings in Rhythm magazine's Volume 2, Number 5, from June of 1912. The cover is a naked woman picking fruit off of a tree surrounded by vaginal looking flowers. The first real page of contents features a nude figure bend over on the ground. Then there are some innocent looking drawings of a village, a big face, The Arc de Triomphe, basic fruit still lifes. But if the cover tells us anything, we should not be surprised to see some breasts. And certainly there is a nude woman, fruit, and tree motif going on in this issue. So should we be surprised by Breast Fruit? Probably not, but I still am. Why, amid plenty of other, tamer still life drawings of fruit are these two pairs of breasts shoved in our faces? It's hard to assume that the likeness is unintentional. I can't think of a single fruit that has such pronounced, uniform nipples. Some citrus fruits could debatably have nipples, but these grow on trees and are never this close together until they are picked. Strangely, for a magazine that seems almost obsessed with trees, this vine comes out of nowhere. These are clearly breasts, and perhaps it is an idealistic dream of the art editor for them to grow on trees.

    Maybe it is one of those presumptions we tend to have that we live in a more progressive, sexually explicit time, but I think it's pretty true. I know people had sex just as much around this time, I read The Sun Also Rises, and I know it was seen in art, as it has been for hundreds and hundreds of years, but apparently it was also in magazines. Obviously these modernist magazines weren't exactly mainstream, but I was still a little surprised to see this in the same issue of Rhythm. The woman is strong, tall, and prominent. Her hair is up, and she is looking down at the man. We do not even see the man's face. He may as well be a big skin blanket. He does not matter, except to add to the suggestiveness of the piece. Despite, or perhaps because of, the strength of the woman this is a tender moment. As far as I can tell this couple has just had sex. Or, is even debatably still engaging in some form of it. Was this drawing surprising to viewers? Was it considered obscene? Was it stared it, or mostly ignored? 

Two from Blast

"The Old Houses of Flanders" by Ford Madox Heuffer was published in the second incarnation of Blast.  The houses in question are personified as a kind of witness to the destruction of the town as a result of the war.  The windows of the houses have eyes, "mournful, tolerant and sardonic, for the ways of men" which watch first as the cathedrals of Flanders burn, and then sort of lean into each together "drunkenly" before collapsing themselves.  With the destruction of not only the town, but these houses specifically, which have existed through many generations, there is a sense not only of physical lost but of the loss of memory, of something less tangible, and less easily duplicated/reconstructed.

From the first issue of Blast, I chose "To Suffragettes." which does not appear to have an author.  (Perhaps it was Wyndham Lewis?)  Like some of the poems we read in class, this one, a kind of open letter to woman suffragists, seems to take a didactic tone without fully explaining its logic.  Although the author admirably backs female suffrage, he also discourages suffragettes from participating in the creation of art.  One can't really tell from reading this piece alone if the author includes all women when addressing the suffragettes, or if he means suffragettes particularly.  In any case, the author ostensibly views the fight for suffragism as a violent act, one of tearing down conventions in order to promote equality.  Based on this, "suffragism," to the author, seems to equal "destruction."  As such, he asks that women "stick to what [they] understand" and refrain from participating in the creation of art, lest they "destroy" a great work of art also.  This is all a very muddled interpretation of an equally muddled text.  It probably needs more context for an accurate reading.

"For Sex Equality" & "The Master and the Leaves" in The New Age

     While searching through the magazine achives for quite some time, I was able to come across two works that caught my attention. The very first one was an article written by Teresa Billington Grieg entitled "For Sex Equality". This article caught my attention because it focused on issues that I was familiar with. I have learned many times about the inferiority that women have in relation to men, and the struggles that they had to go through to get many of the same rights as men. While reading it I noticed that this article was in favor of women's suffrage, and the attempt to make their situation better. It stated in the article that women during this time, outnumbered men, and this scared the men because they did not want to be dictated by the voice of women, therefore they felt it necessary to silence women. They silenced them by not granting them certain rights, like the right to vote. I was upset when I read the first half of the article, but quickly became relieved when I realized that many men took the side of the women and made attempts to keep them on an equal playing feild. Many men wanted women to be equal and share the same rights as them. I was glad to see that both men and women were taking steps to advance the plight of women in society. 

     Another work that I came across was also in The New Age titled "The Master and the Leaves" by Thomas Hardy. This work was not an article but a poem. I often enjoy reflecting on poetry because poetry is subjective, and you can take from it whatever you feel is right. While I was reading this poem, it made me feel a little sad. Usually when one reads a poem about the changing of leaves or the changing of seasons, you tend to feel happy and enlightened. At first I felt this way, but quickly felt saddened when I realized that no one was noticing this change, or cared to acknowledge its existence. When a poet writes about the seasons changing, it indicates a life cycle or life, death and rebirth. This poem is told from the point of view of the leaves on a tree, the leaves are actaully the ones experiecing such changes, but those around them, seem not to notice this, the "master" in particular for that is who it is addressed to. I tried to dig deeper into the meaning of this poem in relation to the modernist era, and came to the conclusion that while a change in art was occurring, many people of higher power did not seem to care or take part in the beauty was that evolving. The modern era was an introduction of new things, just like the seasons are, but sadly, many of these changes went unseen.

Art in the Early 1900s

"Study" was published in "Rhythm" Vol.1, No.1 on page 4, during summer 1911. It was drawn by Orthon Friesz and it depicts a man with his back towrads us who does not seem to have much clothes on. His face is turned towards us and he is holding some kind of bag or sack in his hands. It is a very simple drawing with no color and very little shading. The Magazine cover says that it is about Art, Music and Literature. The pages are filled with tons of essays and varying kinds of art. This particular drawing goes along with the general motif of the magazine. It's simple and forces you to really look at it and decide for yourself what you think it portrays. It forces you to focus on the contour's of the body, as does the majority of the other artwork in the magazine. It seems very different and revolutionary.

"A Composition" was published in The Blue Review Vol. 1, No.2 on page 41 in June 1913. It was drawn by G.S. Lightfoot and it is a portrait of a woman sitting on a bed with her hands holding her face. Her face is pointed towards the ceiling and her eyes are closed. She seems very distressed. There is a lot more detail to this picture as well as the other drawings in this magazine. Although we can clearly see what she is doing we still do not know what is going on, which forces you to give your own interpretations. Since the "The Blue Review" is the successor to "Rhythm", it has the same kind of structure. It is filled with different kinds of art, poems and essays. They mostly focus on the Futurism movement, which I think both of these drawings exemplify.