Week 2: (1 of 8) Regarding Modernism and Latham’s Analysis

I apologize, I forgot to post this in the second week.

Mr. Latham’s questions only bring more questions to mind about the definition of modernism. When I was growing up, there were magazines that would tout ads or articles about “the modern man” or the “the modern woman.” The word is bandied about even today in the news and on tv. It seems modern must go through a growing process with every generation, because they want to use the ‘now’ that that comes with word association. One of the writers asserted that modernism was dead, like some artists now claim, ‘art is dead.’ Is it just me, or does anyone think it’s kind of funny to think of a word as something alive? Why do humans associate words or thoughts with life or death, like a breathing creature? 

Also shaping the word modernism is the history that came before, which some modernists wish to reject. Is it right to cut off the past and all that we have learned just to create something new? Are we losing something by only taking in the product of the present? Humanity wants to move forward, always forward. But I think modernism is in many different directions, not just one. 

On The Waste Land

This poem made a lot of references to Greek mythology as well as some Hindu mythology, which I found somewhat confusing because I do not know much about the latter. I liked the poem but I can't say I understand it yet. I do think there is a part of this poem that speaks to the experience of women in the Western world and elsewhere, and how they have been treated in their relationships and encounters with men. Eliot references the story of Philomela. According to some versions of the story, she was assaulted by the king, who was her sister's husband, and had her voice taken away via the removal of her tongue. There is more to the story but that portion about Philomela being attacked by someone in her immediate circle seemed to parallel with the interaction found in section III of the poem. Even though it is not particularly violent, the woman still does not want to have relations with her husband or whoever this man is to her. He is indifferent to how she feels and "makes a welcome of indifference." This interaction is followed "(and I Tiresias have foresuffered all enacted on this same divan or bed...)" So, the woman, like Philomela, has been assaulted by someone that would be considered close to her. Tiresias seems to be empathizing with this more mdoern woman, saying he's suffered similar things in the same place. I feel that this could be Eliot's illumination of the experience many women have with men when it comes to relations like these. Tiresias, according to the Greek myth, turned into a woman for some years. It would make sense that he would understand the plight of the woman. Perhaps Eliot was trying to make a statement about the male treatment of women over the course of history, and how the treatment of some women in ancient Greek myths is not terribly different from the treatment of women in his lifetime. I think this speaks to the temporality of modernism, and how some things do not really change over such lengths of time. Instead, they are just spoken about and lived through in a more acceptable way for the time period, like a woman who knows what is expected of her by this man and merely submits to that reality. People don't seem to mind that as much as an ancient tale about an assault. I'd like to think Eliot could have been pointing to an idea like that.  

Spatiality, Market Modernism, Collaboration and The Waste Land

I’m going to be thinking along several strands in relation to The Waste Land, which intersect aesthetic, social, and material aspects of the poem’s production and emergence. I’m somewhat summarizing these strands under three umbrellas of spatiality, modernism and the market, and collaboration which all tend to intersect into each other anyways.

In terms of spatiality, I found myself drawn to thinking about the waste land in its spatial dimensions. In particular, I was drawn to the lines “Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind / Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed” from “The Fire Sermon” (11). I felt this strongly resonated with the war poems we read last week in terms of depicting a dying landscape and the imagery of clutching, sinking, mud, and absence seemed like it resonated with the imagery we’ve read so far on WWI. I also found myself drawn to thinking about the Atlantic itself as another form of waste land with Eliot’s heavy emphasis on water and sailing throughout the poem. While the crossing of the Atlantic presented new opportunities, the vast distance itself could be seen as an interesting parallel to the land-based waste land that we’ve already touched upon in class so far.

Some questions I’ve started thinking about in regards to spatiality in TWL and the Transatlantic include: 1. What spaces facilitate movement across the Atlantic?

2. What spaces frequently appear in the transatlantic spatial imagination?

3. What continuities and deviations exist in spaces formed from the same structure but existing on different sides of the Atlantic (i.e., what does a port city look like in England versus the U.S.? How does Paris differentiate from New York? Etc.)

The essays on the emergence of TWL also touched another broad theme I think we could track in this course, which is thinking about the intersection of the growing global market and modernism which both find facilitation through transatlantic exchange. I thought it was interesting in Rainey’s “The Price of Modernism: Publishing The Waste Land” that they observed that “By 1922 literary modernism desperately required a financial-critical success that would seem comparable to the stunning achievement of modernist painting,” yet this desire for market success contrasted with Eliot’s own fears for what the market might due to his modernist magnum opus (99). In particular, Eliot’s decision to not pursue Vanity Fair as a publisher for The Waste Land is posited as a decision driven by the fact that VF “represented a degree of commercial success and popular acceptance that would have undermined the very status of the work that he was trying to establish” (110). This creates an interesting tension between modernism and its need to be marketable in order to maintain its heart beat, yet the fear that this very marketability will stifle what gives the heart its beat in the first place. Thinking about the market also makes sense in the context of the transatlantic, as the exchange of goods and ideas across the Atlantic has had an exponential impact on the emergence and expansion of a global market. The Waste Land’s publication on both sides of the Atlantic is one testament to this new transatlantic market.

Some questions on the market and modernism in the transatlantic:

1. What technologies facilitated the exchange of goods and information across the transatlantic, and in what ways did these technologies impact the growing global market?

2. What are the tensions between modernism and the market as illuminated by TWL’s publication history and motivations for certain publishing venues?

3. How did the markets of literature and art change in relation to the proliferation of modernism?

Finally, in those same essays that touched upon the emergence of TWL I was struck by the immense collaboration (transatlantic collaboration, but also transhistorical collaboration) that was essential to TWL’s creation (and publication as touched on earlier). According to Helen Gardner’s article "The Waste Land: Pairs 1922," Eliot’s poem was the product of collaboration through editorial processes with both Ezra Pound and Eliot’s wife Vivienne. Both Eliot and Pound lived on both sides of the Atlantic, providing them each with sensibilities curated by life both in the United States and their travels in Europe. This, mixed with Vivienne’s input (being English and not American like Pound and Eliot), means that TWL was the product of transatlantic collaboration in the actual development of the poem, let alone its eventual transatlantic emergence and dissemination which involved several publishers and editors from both sides of the Atlantic. Focusing on the location of transatlantic authors during the periods in which they were writing, and some of the biographical context as to what was encouraging that transatlantic travel, could be another interesting lens for our class.

Some questions I’m thinking about regarding transatlantic collaboration:

1. Can we trace national elements from modernist texts that are a result of transatlantic collaboration, or does the text obliterator those national markers in an effort to move towards the transnational?

2. Who were the major collaborators who seemed to have a stake in the directions modernism was moving in on both sides of the Atlantic?

T.S. Eliot - The Waste Land 1/8

The rhythm of The Waste Land is hypnotic. I am still trying to grasp the meaning of each section, but I found the II. A Game of Chess is interesting as I reminisce about my own youth and playing chess, but that reminiscing is left in the 3rd line. It seems that there is a struggle here between high and low society and the different parts of seduction. Then the last part of the poem reminds me of women that get lost in conversation and not realizing that the store/bar is closing. The phrase "HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME" (11. 168-169) could also reference the closing time and maybe it calls to you to remember something that you have forgotten. Also, the pills that the lady takes to induce abortion because of her fear of death from her last birthing experience makes me wonder why the husband isn't concerned with her death. The husband is not resisting his sexual urges toward her. Is she still considered property and once she expires, the husband will find someone else? Also, if she doesn't look good or gives in to her husband, it is mentioned that he will find another. I wonder if this is an acceptable practice. 

I still have a lot to learn about The Waste Land, but in relationship to the transatlantic connection, I would suggest that woman feels that her body is punishing her with the loss of her teeth and maybe that same feeling of loss, rejection, or isolation could be felt by those that made the transatlantic journey from Europe to America? 

Eliot and Pound (3/8)

I have no idea what The Waste Land means at this very moment and probably never will for the rest of my life. It is a dizzyingly fascinating poem, but I am limited in my abilities to understand. In terms of the piece being transatlantic, though, there is a degree of sense to me. Eliot writes that, "No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone" (115). I found it in the Essays and London letters section of Norton Edition of The Waste Land. T.S. Eliot is no exception to his statement; his letters and communication with people he knew and their feedback create an amalgamation of ideas. While the background on Eliot, and the quotes from Ezra Pound, state that Eliot created this poem entirely on his own and that the suggestions only provided a ground from which Eliot could begin to build his monster (although, he clearly outdid Victor Frankenstein because it is quite fascinating).

"The Burial of the Dead" was the most interesting section for me with its bizarre connection of death with natural images. It kind of brought me back to the poem "Grass" without the apocalyptic and sentient earth. The section begins with this immage of these "Lilacs out of the dead land" growing (l. 2). Lilacs are such a vibrant, happy plant that tend to symbolize innocence, purity, youthfulness, etc. Such a brilliant plant being bred from such a dark ground is ironic, but not really hopeful as would be expected from most works. My favorite lines, though, "That corpse you planted last year in your garden, / Has it begun to sprout?" are really confusing (ll. 71-72). It harkens back to those first lines of the section, and the idea that we often bury "dead" remains of plants hoping they will transform into something new. If I am honest, I am still not sure what they mean, but I like the way the are both alarming yet hopeful.

Global References in the Fire Sermon

I considered the transatlantic questions Drouin posed to us over “The Wasteland.” I couldn’t come up with much. I am reading from the The Poems of T.S. Eliot Volume 1 which has included a wealth of annotations that include commentary. I scoured the pages—I found little to nothing about a transatlantic exchange of ideas. The sources Eliot is pulling from seem to be European (transnational, yes, but in Europe not across the Atlantic). There is the fact that Eliot himself is an American writing in England/Europe, and that Pound, a major editor, is an American in Europe who is editing Eliot’s work. It’s tough to read that in the poem. I guess what I was trying to do initially was find some sort of Americanness in the text. I didn’t succeed.

I did find, however, a more globalist text in that there were references and source material pulled from different non-European places. (This embodies the intercultural exchange inherent to transatlantic modernism, yeah?) Beyond the European locales and Euro-derived source materials, there are a few references that emerge from a global context. The war, though destructive, created a space of intercultural exchange; and Eliot quotes a song which was “reported to me from Sydney, Australia” (Eliot qtd., Ricks et al 655): “O the moon shone bright on Mrs. Porter/ And on her daughter/ They wash their feet in soda water” (WL 199-201). Eliot positions this quote between the Thames riverbank description and the appearance of Tiresias (who details a sex scene in “The Fire Sermon”). This section is incredibly auditory, beginning with sounds of the city that is at the narrator’s “back,” the sound of birds, Mr. Eugenides “demotic French” (WL 212). Mr. Eugenides embodies another “global” reference as a Syrian (?) merchant bringing exotic objects (i.e. currants) into the London, into the poem. The interconnecting sounds bring together foreign shores to create a global context. Like the references to water that lace the poem, sound serves a similar function—the liminal space/connection between different locales.

What do these few lines (199-214) do for the rest of the section? These two global socio-cultural markers bring to an especially localized scene a sense of the world around, in a similar way that Tiresias brings to the poem a widened perspective/vision of time. They interrupt the narrator’s musings over Shakespeare’s The Tempest on the banks of the Thames and preface a decidedly (?) modernist rendering of intimacy, “indifferent” and detached with hints of violence and passive responses to that violence. Eliot shifts perspectives here, yes, but also asks us to reconcile their messiness and incongruency. As Eliot writes in The Metaphysical Poets, “When a poet's mind is perfectly equipped for its work, it is constantly amalgamating disparate experience; the ordinary man's experience is chaotic, irregular, fragmentary. The latter falls in love, or reads Spinoza, and these two experiences have nothing to do with each other, or with the noise of the typewriter or the smell of cooking; in the mind of the poet these experiences are always forming new wholes.” (125) By the end of the section it seems as if the gramophone recording put on by the woman leaves the apartment and finds its way to the streets of London, and thus to Eliot himself by the end of the section. Through these chains of association, Eliot sews together a complex series of stimuli and cultural flotsam that begins and end with concrete, local experience.

II. The Chess Game (3/8)

        Philomela as the nightingale, and her form of speech, was one theme throughout the Waste Land that I found compelling. She resorted to visual and nonverbal expression, or art, to communicate with her sister. At the myth's end, her voice and her autonomy both return but not in ways they had manifested previously. She becomes a nightingale -"still the world pursues"- crying to their "dirty ears." What she says has significance; however, this message depends wholly on the context of her experiences. Stretching a thread between Eliot with the Waste Land and Philomela and her tapestry ("jug, jug, jug," even) doesn't seem like too much of a reach.

        Eliot himself stated: this was a personal work, without any generational generalization in mind. He wasn't relaying a verdict on behalf of the jury. He also posited in his commentary that "the business of the poet is... to use the ordinary [emotions] and, in working them up into poetry, to express feelings that are not in actual emotions at all." A vehicle of this imperfect transition is objective equivalence, which he describes as implying emotions through external means. Philomela's story, told for centuries and echoed too often, represents just one of the motifs used in the Waste Land to acquaint the reader with personality and emotion that the poet himself wishes to escape. His message is as indirect and articulated as birdsong. The feeling present in the poem may be manufactured, or even complicit in an attempt to tell a story without a tongue, but it is felt by the reader.

TS Eliot and Impressions of the Mind Week 4 (Blog 2 of 8)

“Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither 
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing, 
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.” 

There are so many layers to this poem, so I’m just going to focus on what I can see from just the beginning passage that speaks to me. There are instances such as above where the speaker wants to communicate but cannot convey his feelings through words or sounds. His visage is ‘neither...Living nor dead’ and so he lives in a trance or shocked state. Why can he not speak, why do his eyes not work? He had a closeness with the woman that is now a mental/emotional chasm he cannot cross. Is Eliot referring to PTSD or something else that haunts him? What I can glean from this passage is the speaker must be under severe psychological strain that is a metaphorical coffin he can’t escape. 

The line ‘looking into the heart of the light, the silence’ with failed eyes, he knows is there, but does he see this or not? I’m not sure. I can only speculate what he means by ‘heart of the light’ in the poem. Does he mean his relationship with the woman, the goodness in others or love? I believe based on the speaker’s words he has an inability to recognize this connection, and his fugue state is the cause of it. When there is ‘silence’ there is an emptiness in him, and he can’t respond. What should be fleeting moments of happiness being reunited with the woman he loves are lost because his mind his too mentally scarred with other impressions to absorb them. 

Figure 5 and Collage

Hage presents the use of journals by Tzara and the Dada movement as an umbrella for many art forms, which jells with my understanding of literature generically: it houses epic and myth, pastoral poetry, closet drama, and more recently, absurd graphic machines that explode standard syntax in preference of a mechanized repository of names.

In a less tired way, I mean to say that the machines in Hage’s “Fig. 5” constellate verbal names less through spoken or written language than through graphic depictions of the machines that connect them. Syntax is more graphic than verbal. Instead of claiming that Tzara invented emoji, I am surprised to learn from Hage that the longer the movement carried on, the less its key players created art. The more they wrote about the term and its semantics.

Over the summer I worked at a conference wherein scholar Rona Cran gave a keynote about collage and Bob Dylan. Cran drew more from the high modernist moment more than I expected. I was compelled to think differently about collage. It’s an apparent, but inessential, chaos. It’s the Sims of art.

In the spirit of Dada, I (tried to) read the manifesto in its original French. I recognized words from my semesters in French class, and it was a good refresher, but by and large, I couldn’t accurately translate one full sentence. Instead, the reading experience left me awash, lost in a collage of mystifying, unfamiliar words and English cognates.

The Great Split - Aesthetic Formatting in Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est” (2/8)

Horace’s Latin adage echoes through Owen’s poem–nearly inescapably–as the title orients the reader with romantic allusion in mind. But the title doesn’t complete the well-known lyric; it only evinces the positive half of the antithetical whole–”it is sweet and fitting,” the poem begins. Yet, Owen alludes to patriotic fervor only to satirize it, juxtaposing it against ineffable terror. In fact, Owen waits to reconcile the phrase until the poem’s last line, making it obvious: those that think it sweet to die have not existed in the same spaces as these soldiers, they simply haven’t “pace[d]/ Behind the wagon (Owen 17-18), too. Owen even recognizes the impossibility of such an empathy; it could only come in “smothering dreams” (Owen 17), but not reality–in other words, in a space not of their own.  

Though by introducing the popular verse and withholding its culmination until the last lines, Owen both visually splits his poem and cognitively breaks the reader’s expectations, thus instilling vulnerability within the reader, as an opportunity to explore the space between the lines. In this, Owen calls attention to the formatting of his piece, highlighting the spaces between the bookended proverb to ensure the reader feels a similar fissure. In doing so, Owen’s utilization of a physical space in his poem’s layout conjures images of geographical dissonance, too. As such, the poem brings to mind other liminal spaces, like between trenches, or “no man’s land”. Morbid atrocities between opposing factions reverberate between the Latin lines; a debilitating march through horror, “vile, incurable sores” (24), and gruesome death occupy the distance between seemingly patriotic lines, serving to mirror the reality of such a fraught space. Between the fabricated heroism of war–the organic heart of these imagined spaces–only suffering remains.  

In an international context, Owen’s use of space elicits thoughts on continental separation, as well. For many, the war was “over there,” but Owen’s piece attempts to reframe how those that can’t be a part of his now, can still embody his feelings of now. One cannot exist on the periphery of a war, Owen demonstrates; they must situate themselves in the middle, in the spaces between the popular rhetoric, the propaganda, and the comfortable home fronts, should they continue to spout “old Lie[s] (27).  



The editor of Camera Work uses the word “vagaries” to describe the post-impressionistic, expressionist artists of the day, of which Matisse and Picasso are a part. I decided to take this idea and run with it, seeing where the literary/written texts are vague and where they become, if at all, concrete and clear. It’s a question of how far the artist is trying to keep the audience, what distance exists between the audience and the work through “technical manipulation”—“absurd, unintelligible, radical or revolutionary.” Starting with Stein, whose writing is designed to recreate in language what/how the visual artists of the day are painting, the text is designed to be analogous. Stein is incredibly vague: pronouns without clear nouns, run-on sentences with syntactic knots, verbs without direct objects, contradictory and unclear phrases, and a lack of any external referent. In this sea of vague wording Stein conjures, I will say that certain words come to the fore (the words repeated over and again) from a background of syntactic static and nonsense. In the Matisse criticism, Stein brings to the fore “certain,” “express” (in relation to the what the artist is expressing), “something” (the direct object, the result of the artwork, what is being “expressed”), a few other verbs that create a dynamic, ever-moving piece—knowing, hearing, suffering, listening, etc. In the Picasso essay, the “one” that turns into “this one” is what is given the most emphasis, but the thing being referenced by “one” is never made clear.

Tzara creates static, as well, in which the ideas he is driving at become vague; his tactics are a bit different, though. While Stein uses language without clear referents, Tzara embraces an excess of references that obscure his meaning. Take this sentence from the first full para: “To impose your ABC is a natural thing— hence deplorable. Everybody does it in the form of crystalbluffmadonna, monetary system, pharmaceutical product, or a bare leg advertising the ardent sterile spring. The love of novelty is the cross of sympathy, demonstrates a naive je m'enfoutisme, it is a transitory, positive sign without a cause.” The sentence begins with his initial idea of imposing order through one’s rhetorical purpose: “ABC.” He assigns this to the category of a “natural thing,” a tendency humans typically do. As he makes this idea concrete, however, he overloads the audience with nonsense or complex references that don’t clearly connect to his main point. The last sentence in this excerpt shifts topic to make a blanket comment on novelty and its relationship to sympathy (I think?). The word “transitory” sticks out here—his references are also moving, never stable, and thus meaning never coheres (whereas Stein’s writing is stationary through repetition).

The other vagaries going on in Tzara are the paradoxical statements that forego a firm, solid conclusion: “I write a manifesto and I want nothing, yet I say certain things, and in principle I am against manifestoes, as I am also against principles.” This play on dialectic thinking refuses to sway to either side of the dialectic. “There is no ultimate Truth,” Tzara writes, which is a statement extending of the idea that human psychology obscures that which we see and how we thinking about it. Really, though, Tzara takes issue with logic itself: “What we need is works that are strong straight precise and forever beyond understanding. Logic is a complication. Logic is always wrong. It draws the threads of notions, words, in their formal exterior, toward illusory ends and centers. Its chains kill, it is an enormous centipede stifling independence.” In this way, Stein and him are similar—they follow logical patterns and use words that suggest logical conclusions; but they reach firm ground. Their writing is left adrift, “transitory,” uncertain.

Reflection on Reading “A War Film” by Teresa Hooley for Week of 9/5 – (MW Blog Post 1/8)

In “A War Film” by Teresa Hooley, the speaker begins with her reaction to seeing a war movie. It is a mixed reaction, where sorrow meets pride and anguish meets glory. There comes a shift, however, “when [her] day [i]s done.” This is a transition in the text, and it is where the war comes home for the speaker. It becomes personal.

I think the beginning shows that the mother does at first identify with some sort of patriotism or emotional draw to the concept of war; I read the first stanza as saying that she felt her heart rise and breath catch at the film. Here, she might believe such conflicts are necessary and see the importance and distinction of being a soldier. It becomes contextualized for her in a unique way, though, at the thought of her son going to war. She speaks of the “sudden terror that assaulted [her}” as she imagines the “body [she] had borne…A part of [her]” being “taken away” to war. She seems him “tortured,” “torn,” and “slain.” The language conveys the strength of attachment that she feels. He is torn apart and torn from her. She is not on the battlefield, but it’s as if she is present there. This is not an indirect experience of war. There is no more glory; her son’s body is instead desecrated, “rotting…out in the rain.”

She asks in the poem, “How could he know” the fear she felt at the thought of losing him as well as “How should he know” why she kissed him repeatedly. The use of “could” makes me think she’s also asking how an innocent being could understand violence like this and possibly how a child, a son, could understand a mother’s love. The later use of “should” makes me think that she’s also asking how a parent could explain war to a child and then answer the underlying question of why they brought them into such a world.

Hooley’s poem ends with the mother stating, “He thought that I was daft. / He thought it was a game, / And laughed and laughed.” These lines reminded me of a trope in war movies, where mothers stand on the doorstep and beg their sons not to go to war. They cry, and their sons stand solemnly or try to smile, encouraging her that this must happen or that they’ll be fine. In these scenarios, it’s implied that the mother is well-meaning but silly or selfish; she doesn’t understand that the war is bigger than her, than her son or family (the forced center of a woman’s life in earlier eras). Their sons think that they know better (because of youthful naivete, arrogance, the glamorization of violence, its association with traditional masculinity, etc.) or possess greater integrity; she could not understand that it’s about honor and a man’s duty. In this poem, her son laughs because he’s young and unable to understand, but to me, these lines could also foreshadow this type of interaction, where her son wants to go to war and thinks his mother is daft for discouraging him. It’s a point in their relationship when her love becomes tedious, naïve, stupid, feminine, etc.

To me, this poem flips the concept of sons knowing war better than mothers. In this scenario, she is the knowing party. She is not the innocent one being protected. It’s an interesting idea to know evil through love and understand war and loss through bringing life. She understood the draw and “glory” of war at the beginning, but her ”silly” love enlightens her fully in the end. Her sacrifice is not the beginning of a soldier’s story but a story and experience of war in itself. It’s a different perspective than I normally see, a different kind of grief and fear. It demonstrates that what has been visually depicted as a mother “not understanding duty” could be her understanding it too well. It could be a rejection of it, a rebellion, where she doesn’t believe that she should have to sacrifice her son. The poem juxtaposes a mother who views her child’s life as precious with a country and conflict that sees it as a resource, and I think that you see her disillusionment progress throughout the poem.

Dadaism and Definitions 2/8

            If Dadaism ever deigned to define anything, it was the ideology of anti-institutional expression: art was ultimately for and by the artist. Tzara liberated the term (Art with a capital “A”) from mass opinion and consumerism by first challenging the conventions that surrounded it. Duchamp’s fountain is the perfect example of this, because a urinal –mass-produced and utilitarian— had no value or meaning to members from what Tzara would call the “bourgeoisie” class. This installation challenged how art is defined while presenting something ready-made and without a market outside its original function. Dada did not cater to any audiences. Secondly, Tzara asserted that art should neither be explained nor understood, and this claim separated Dada from most other isms. Gertrude Stein’s articles in Camera Work serve as the literary equivalent, filled with contradictions, repetitions, and run-ons that defy organization. While reading these was difficult, I encountered more of a stream-of-consciousness or abstract thought pattern from them than nonsense. At the same time, the words slip out of focus and make it impossible to come to the end of a sentences with a conclusion.

             “Flip-Flap” reiterates both of the previous claims: art does not manufacture feelings for those “who dare not create.” The laugh in Rhoades’ poem is one complete, reactive, and enigmatic definition for Dada. Matisse and his paintings present another. The individualistic nature of each figure, the fact that none are so carefully arranged but seem to have their own motivations, and his linear treatment of these figures all communicate deconstruction, subjectivity, and existential joy.

            Before studying this aspect of the modernist era, I was having trouble creating a distinction between it and other literary periods; after anti-manifestos and subjective still-life’s, it’s become easier to understand that while Modernism might echo backward through earlier literary works, it is its own event.

Dadaism and Periodicals (2/8)

Dadaism was heavily reliant upon periodicals and magazines to circulate their "protestation" against schools of art and the limitations and corruptions of such systems. Interestingly enough, though the contributors argued against such an accusation, dadaism became a type of system of art (mostly considered a movement). I did not see much on Dada and race relations, but since it was paired with the propaganda posters, I would be interested to see what potential art came out of Dada related to race. 

Tristan Tzara wrote: "The love of novelty is the cross of sympathy, demonstrates a naive je m'enfoutisme [translator said "couldn't care less attitude"], it is a transitory, positive sign without a cause. But this need itself is obsolete" (Dada Manifesto 1918). Dada itself is kind of a novel thing to view, though. Much of Dada's work is presented through magazines, which deteriorate quickly and are, in a sense, replaced periodically. By nature, each piece is somewhat novel--new, exciting, and unusual. DADA, the magazine itself is very vibrant and filled with bold lettering, unique placement, and, simply put, entertaining to view. Maybe I am putting too much thought and meaning upon the idea, but the fact that each issue would become "obsolete" upon the publication and release of the next really hammers home the idea that "Dada is nothing." It fades away after a little while. 

Due to Dada being a protestation, independence and techniques being employed for visibility to audiences are necessary to its success. Having an audience while also being independent seems like a contradiction, but I think the contributors to DADA would agree with Ezra Pound's subtitle to The Little Review: "Making no compromise with the public taste." They must have subscribers, and the artists must be viewed by someone, but the audience must be willing to subscribe to the artists and editors' own ideas rather than being catered to. The intriguing design and odd appearance are great eyecatchers, but they are made according to the magazine's own taste and goals.

What is Modernism? (No really.) 1/8

            The introduction to A History of “Modernism” presents various contexts that not only apply to Modernism as definitions but also outline the permutation of each definition throughout the signification process; it could be ventured that Modernism is the diagnosis and not any one of its collected symptoms, just as Sherry argues for a “special present” of which the modernist has been made aware. This term, special present, is involved with recognizing “crisis time and time in crisis,” and Modernism also occupies this tension-point: decadence versus progress. Is the “ache of modernism” growing pain or arthritis? It might not be either and, instead, inhabit the question.

            Society deconstructs time. Time dismantles society. Time itself decays. The reason Modernism proves so difficult to outline lies in how Just Now (as an element of one definition) is transitory and how scholars apply their own ideologies to it over time. I am interested in exploring Modernism as a “no man’s land” and a connecting line across artistic eras. It is somehow both cyclic and new tradition as well as decadence’s potential.

            I approached Modernism: Evolution of an Idea with these questions. As Latham and Rogers focus on Modernism’s development and response, they present ideas put forward in earlier conversations. For example, Modernism is partially a reaction to “the violence of mass identity.” This concept, while politically charged, led into New (again) Modernist Studies, which was self-referential and applied modernist frameworks to Modernism in history.

            (While trying to understand Modernism sort of feels like that moment where you share your screen on Harvey, and it’s this endless cycle,) I have drawn a definition-adjacent conclusion from these two readings. Modernism might be the space in which a person inhabits the present, becoming aware of its unique era, rejecting the mass subscription to past ideologies, and driving toward the next "now" inside a disenfranchised time. Looking back on these first impressions, I barely even addressed the characteristics of Modernist work or how pioneers of the movement approached language.