Manifestos

Hobsbawm’s essay on the Manifesto speaks of its ‘dark, laconic eloquence’, and notes that as political rhetoric it has ‘an almost biblical force’. ‘The new reader,’ he writes, ‘can hardly fail to be swept away by the passionate conviction, the concentrated brevity, the intellectual and stylistic force of this astonishing pamphlet.’ The Manifesto initiated a whole genre of such declarations, most of them from avant-garde artists such as the Futurists and the Surrealists, whose outrageous wordplay and scandalous hyperbole turn these broadsides into avant-garde artworks in themselves. The manifesto genre represents a mixture of theory and rhetoric, fact and fiction, the programmatic and the performative, which has never been taken seriously enough as an object of study.

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2 Responses to Manifestos

  1. Hattie says:

    Right now I’m reading Walter Benjamin on Moscow after the Leninist takeover. Talk about surreal. Everyone was out in the bitter bitter cold with the filthy snow piled high and more snow falling on the snow that was already there, trying to sell what they could. People just set their wares down in the snow. Many had no indoor shelter at all but lived in the streets.
    This piece is one of those treasures that recently became available in German for free on my Kindle.
    Benjamin said that unlike the beggars in Southern countries, who hid their vitality behind their rags, beggars there were almost dead and the most pathetic human beings he had ever seen. Benjamin had such a vivid sense of urban life. No one has every equalled him on that.
    Surrealism was about what was actually happening then.

  2. Z says:

    I must read that !!!

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