A Brief Textual Analysis of Blast

After reading Bornstein’s article where he describes the importance of both linguistic codes (the words themselves of the text) and the bibliographic codes which are “the semantic features of its material instantiations,” I couldn’t help but think about how useful Blast is in a case study of the importance of both of these codes to understanding the experimental vorticist magazine (Bornstein 6). I’ve been fascinated by Blast (and Lewis in general) since completing an independent study on his magazines last year, and one of the ideas that sprung to mind that I briefly explored in that study was on just how important each individual piece of Blast is in order to understand the publication as a whole. Lewis’s Enemy of the Stars is one of his first works of fiction that he published, and it is notoriously complex. It was later reprinted and significantly altered to give it a more cohesive narrative plot rather than the fragmentary narrative space-time that the play has in Blast. I stand my belief that the only way to understand Enemy of the Stars in the original Blast is by reading it alongside the manifestos, where the same concepts, words, and images appear both in the manifestos and Enemy of the Stars (a topic I hope to more fully investigate at a later date). In an effort to better understand Enemy of the Stars from this hypothesis on the relationship between the play and the other pieces in Blast, I used the online Voyant tools to do some textual analysis on the periodical, which produced some fascinating results. The 10 most common terms in all of Blast are:

like (172); life (125); art (121); man (95); little (77); great (76); time (69); good (68); form (66); artist (63)

These 10 terms prove to be powerful analytic lenses for reading Blast. While there is plenty to say about these terms, space restricts what I can say at the moment; so, I’ll briefly focus on the first 6 terms. Since vorticism is all about placing opposing things in conflict (“We start from opposite statements of a chosen world. Set up violent structure of adolescent clearness between two extremes” from “Manifesto II” [30]), it makes sense that the repeated use of simile (the main instantiations of the use of “like”) would be the most common device across the periodical for drawing comparisons between terms and concepts. Reading any of the manifestos indicates the importance that Lewis ascribes to the relationship between art and life. Man, little, and great provide an interesting contrast for thinking about “littleness” and “greatness” of men, a contrast explored most explicitly in the characters of Arghol and Hanp from Enemy of the Stars.

This exercise began as a way to see if I could track patterns between the elusive Enemy of the Stars and the other content in Blast, and what I believe it shows is just how crucial the totality of Blast is to understanding how each individual piece relates to the others. These terms not only mark some of the major vorticist conflicts (life/art, little/great), it also emphasizes some of the important technical aspects in Blast’s various narrative and rhetorical strategies, including its manipulation of time, form, and comparison via simile.

For anyone interested in using Voyant (free software for doing textual analysis), here’s the link: https://voyant-tools.org/


Your analysis of Bornstein's article and its ties to Blast is genuinely captivating! It's apparent you've plunged deep into the complexities of this experimental Vorticist magazine. Your point regarding how Blast's linguistic and bibliographic codes play an integral role in comprehending its contents, especially Lewis's "Enemy of the Stars," gives much food for thought.

Investigating the 10 most prevalent terms in Blast and their significance within Vorticism makes for fascinating analysis. Linking these terms to Vorticist tensions like life vs art and little vs great demonstrates your perceptive grasp of the magazine's thematic and rhetorical techniques.

Clearly your utilization of Voyant as a textual study tool has uncovered valuable insights into Blast and its interconnections. Thank you for providing the link to the instrument; it will surely profit others interested in this analytical approach.