Blast!; To Blast

It took until I read the Introduction to Blast that I registered the title as an expletive. Since “oh blast!” might be more often used ironically than emphatically by Americans, the term’s connotations of explosions, fractures, and ruptures dominated my view. As a verb, that is, “to blast,” couples with the expletive to exemplify the vortex on which Vorticists based their movement. This twinned, paradoxically opposite, inseparably infused yet distinct, ethos of the movement is also notable in Peppis’s analysis of “The Crowd Master.” “Taken as a whole,” Peppis writes, “‘The Crowd Master’  neither celebrates a Crowd Master nor masters the crowd,” (113-14). This reservation of, as Peppis sees it, a clear stance in support of either strong-man or sociological writing also attests to the very volatile position Vorticism holds in British prewar, mid-war culture. In the face of its rupturing thematics, Vorticism does not forego all of the values and customs of imperialism as it imports notable flagship traits of the political style—military/economic dominance. I find it interesting that Blast supports (somewhat?) other quasi-fascist, violent/militaristic aesthetics and outlooks, particularly Italian Futurism, while teasing it. Vorticist interest in classification by (and critique of other) nationalities overlaps with their attention to their region's affordances of material production, like fast cars. Morrisson’s piece covers this, and it reminds me of the classification of Pound’s “Studies in Contemporary Mentality” with “The Spectator” in last week’s reading. This compulsion to classify individual human characteristics based on local, regional (national) history and custom feels just as romantic as Lewis claims Germany (the Prussian Establishment) is, and it is an obsessive concern with the Vorticists and their associates. But, especially in The War Number, nationalist sentiment, patriotism, is a sort of trial for an individual to be heroic, on the homefront industrially (even aesthetically?), or in the trenches. The war posters, emphasize this, too. The Vorticists apparently want to rupture and fracture everything, but acknowledge how the fractures are contained within a greater whole (I’m still riffing off of the vortex symbology here). That is, Peppis points my attention to the yes, and aspects of what I would afore-now only consider a nationalist artistic movement worthy of study, yes, but also one I would readily dismiss as a dramatic and bratty failure of aesthetics.