Geometry & Mechanical Flight

 

GEOMETRY

The concept "true" does not tally with the assertions of pure geometry, because with the word "true" we are eventually in the habit of designating always the correspondence with a "real" object; geometry, however, is not concerned with the relation of the ideas involved in it to objects of experience, but only with the logical connections of these ideas among themselves.

From 1830 to 1930 the machine carried aspirations higher and higher throughout the world (the Whole earth) Higher and higher. Aspirations which are constantly being realized...

Calculation, machinery, hypotheses...

Forward, not BACK!

For all these things--axes, circles, right angles--are geometrical truths, and give results that our eye can measure and recognize; whereas otherwise there would be only chance, irregularity, and capriciousness. Geometry is the language of man.

...it is that that is the basis of cubism, the work of man is not in harmony with the landscape, it opposes it and it is just that that is the basis of cubism....

These three landscapes express exactly what I wish to make clear, that is the opposition between nature and man in Spain. The round is opposed to the cubed, a small number of houses gives the impression of a great quantity of houses in order to dominate the landscape, the landscape and houses do not agree, the round is opposed to the cube, the movement of the earth is against the movement of the houses, in fact the houses have no movement because the earth has its movement, of course the houses should have none....

Spaniards know that there is no agreement, neither the landscape with the houses, neither the round with the cube, neither the great number with the small number, it was natural that a Spaniard should express this in the painting of the twentieth century, the century where nothing is in agreement...

When I was in America I traveled pretty much all the time in an airplane and when I looked at the earth I saw all the lines of cubism made at a time when not any painter had gone up in an airplane. I saw there on the earth the mingling lines of Picasso, coming and going, developing and destroying themselves, I saw the simple solutions of Braque, I saw the wandering lines of Masson, yes I saw and once more I knew that a creator is contemporary, he understands what is contemporary when the contemporaries do not yet know it, but he is contemporary and as the twentieth century is a century which sees the earth as no one has ever seen it, the earth has a splendor that it never has had, and as everything destroys itself in the twentieth century and nothing continues, so then the twentieth century has a splendor which is its own.

THE STRAIGHT LINE

Tortuous paths, roads that follow the indolence of streams and wind along the spines and uneven bellies of mountains, these are the laws of the earth. Never straight lines; always arabesques and zigzags. Speed finally gives to human life one of the characteristics of divinity: the straight line.

The opaque Danube under its muddy tunic, its attention turned on its inner life full of fat libidinous fecund fish, runs murmuring between the high implacable banks of its mountains as if within the immense central corridor of the earth, a convent split open by the swift wheels of the constellations. How long will this shuffling stream allow an automobile, barking like a crazy fox terrier, to pass it at top speed? I hope to see the day when the Danube will run in a straight line at 300 kilometers an hour...

Man walks in a straight line because he has a goal and knows where he is going; he has made up his mind to get to a particular place and he goes straight to it.

The pack-donkey meanders along, meditates a little in his scatter-brained and distracted fashion, he zigzags in order to avoid the larger stones, or to ease the climb, or to gain a little shade; he takes the line of least resistance.

But man governs his feelings by his reason; he keeps his feelings and his instincts in check, subordinating them to the aim he has in view....

The straight line enters into all human activity, into all human aim, into every human act.

THE RIGHT ANGLE

The right angle is, it may be said, the essential and sufficient instrument of action because it enables us to determine space with an absolute exactness. The right angle is lawful, it is a part of our determinism, it is obligatory.

There, my friend, the critic, is something to upset you.

...if I climb up to the platforms of the Eiffel Tower, the very act of mounting gives me a feeling of gladness; the moment is a joyful one, and also a solemn one. And in proportion as the horizon widens more and more, one's thought seems to take on a larger and more comprehensive cast: similarly, if everything in the physical sphere widens out, if the lungs expand more fully and the eye takes in vast distances, so too the spirit is roused to a vital activity.

When the eye is five feet or so above the ground, flowers and trees have dimension: a measure relative to human activity, proportion.

In the air, from above? It is a wilderness, indifferent to our thousand year old ideas, a fatality of cosmic elements and events.

In this respect our language is consistently erratic: a Texan speaks of the "wide-open spaces" when he refers to the vast plains of his home state. But even Texas is largely two-dimensional, if we disregard the curvature of the earth.... It appears to man as though only a flat expanse were to his purpose. And that flat expanse has been conquered and thoroughly fenced in. Only the vertical frontier is left to his insatiable craving for exploring and expanding.

We want to study the stars again and the night

We want to rise to the zenith with the alpine eagles

In the titanic mountains that people the rising ether

Until we find a vertical ecstasy once more

TECHNOLOGY

Now man has conquered the vertical plane. The third dimension, height, has given his life a new direction. His science, his technical accomplishments have opened to him the trackless spaces of the sky...

It is free of all those hindrances with which we are confronted upon the earth, the forests, swamps, gorges, mountains, rivers, seas and deserts....

Enclosed in air-tight vessels, equipped with respiratory appliances, man rises beyond the natural frontiers, high into space beyond the limits of the atmosphere, where the stratosphere begins. Here all is calmer; no more clouds or mist, no storms, no earthly weather; the upward draughts that rise from the earth are transformed into horizontal air-currents which flow steadily round the globe from west to east.

Whither is man tending? Is it his will to leave the earth, aspiring towards the sun?

All this will have prepared you to understand one of our principal futurist efforts, namely the abolition in literature of the seemingly unchallengeable fusion of the two ideas Woman and Beauty, which has reduced all of romanticism to a kind of heroic assault leveled by a bellicose and lyric male against a tower which bristles with enemies who cluster around the divine Beauty-Woman.

Consequently we are developing and proclaiming a great new idea that runs through modern life: the idea of mechanical beauty. We therefore exalt love for the machine, that love we notice flaming on the cheeks of mechanics scorched and steaming with coal. Have you never seen a mechanic lovingly at work on the great powerful body of his locomotive? His is the minute, knowing tenderness of a lover caressing his adored woman.

You will certainly have watched the takeoff of a Blériot plane, panting and still held back by its mechanics, amid mighty buffets of air from the propeller’s first spins.

Well then: I confess that before so intoxicating a spectacle we strong Futurists have felt ourselves suddenly detached from women, who have suddenly become too earthly, or, to express it better, have become a symbol of the earth that we ought to abandon.

We have even dreamed of one day being able to create a mechanical son, the fruit of pure will, a synthesis of all the laws that science is on the brink of discovering.

Well-known scientists are envisaging a time, by no means unobtainable, when it will be possible to plan the alteration of inherited human traits by artificially induced mutations, and thus to breed a generation with a pre-determined character.

Normal man is an evolutionary dead end; mechanical man, apparently a break in organic evolution, is actually more in the true tradition of a further evolution.

NATURE

The most important example of holism today is provided by the science of ecology. Although ecology is a relatively new science, its philosophy of nature, holism, is not. Historically, holistic suppositions about nature have been assumed by communities of people who have succeeded in living in equilibrium with their environments. The idea of cyclical processes, of the interconnectedness of all things, and the assumption that nature is active and alive are fundamental to the history of human thought. No element of the interlocking cycle can be removed without the collapse of the cycle.... Each particular part is defined by and dependent on the total context.

They were all alone. Their voices had died like echoes of the words of God spoken and vibrating in the starred deep ...the shards of the kaleidoscope that had formed a thinking pattern for so long, hurled apart.

....What can I do? Is there anything I can do now to make up for a terrible and empty life? If only I could do one good thing to make up for the meanness I collected all these years and didn’t even know was in me? But there's no one here but myself and how could you do good all alone? You can't. Tomorrow night I'll hit earth's atmosphere.

I'll burn, he thought, and be scattered in ashes all over the continental lands. I'll be put to use. Just a little bit, but ashes are ashes and they'll add to the land....

When I hit the atmosphere I'll burn like a meteor. "I wonder," he said, "if anyone'll see me?"

....

"Look, Mom, Look! A falling star."

"Make a wish," said his mother. "Make a wish."


Bibliography

 

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Bradbury, Ray. "Kaleidoscope." The Illustrated Man. New York: Bantam, 1969

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Haber, Heinz. Man Into Space. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1953.

Jolas, Eugene. Vertical: A Yearbook for Romantic-Mystic Ascensions. New York: The Gotham Bookmart Press, 1941.

LeCorbusier. Frederick Etchells, translator. Aircraft. New York: Studio Publications, Inc., 1935.

LeCorbusier. Frederick Etchells, translator. Towards a New Architecture. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1931.

LeCorbusier. Frederick Etchells, translator. The City of Tomorrow. Cambridge: the MIT Press, 1971.

Marinetti, Filippo. Selected Writings. R.W.Flint, translator. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1972.

Marinetti, Filippo. "The Aeropainting of the Italian Future." New Review, I, Winter 1931-32.

Marinetti, Filippo. The Futurist Cookbook. Suzanne Brill, translator. San Francisco: Bedford Arts Publishers, 1989.

Marinetti, Filippo. Stung by Salt and War. Richard J. Poili, translator. New York: Peter Lang, 1987.

Merchant, Carolyn. The Death of Nature. New York: Harper & Row, 1980.

Müller, Wolfgang. Man Among the Stars. London: George G.

Harrap, 1957.

Stein, Gertrude. Picasso. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1984.

Supf, Peter. Airman's World. Cyrus Brooks, translator. New York: William Morrow & Company, 1933.

 

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Dominique Fitzpatrick-O'Dinn
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