"no flower in the buttonhole, no gloves"

so far, Marinetti has outlined his stance towards reality, the phenomena that have caused this stance, and the technique that defines the futurist sensibility. In the essay, “Manifesto of Dynamic and Synoptic Declamation,” (1916) he proceeds to define how the futurist poet should perform futurist poetry. Although the tenets that follow seem rather funny to me, it does almost read as a poetics in and of itself, almost embodying the physicality of the authorial presence within the poem being performed. It somewhat foregrounds Surrealist theatre and perhaps even some of the Beat performances.

Here are the tenets:

1. Dress anonymously (a smoking jacket in the evening if possible) and avoid every form of dress that suggests some special ambience. No flower in the buttonhole, no gloves.

2. Completely dehumanise his voice, systematically doing away with every modulation or nuance.

3. Completely dehumanise his face, avoiding every facial expression and trick of the eyes.

4. Metallise, liquefy, vegetalise, petrify, and electrify his voice grounding it in the vibrations of matter itself as expressed by words-in-freedom.

5. Gesticulate geometrically, thereby giving his arms the sharp rigidity of semaphore signals and lighthouse rays, to indicate the direction of forces, or of pistons and wheels, to express the dynamism of words-in-freedom.

6. Gesticulate in a draughtsman-like, topographical manner, synthetically creating in midair cubes, cones, spirals, ellipses, etc.

7. Make use of a certain number of elementary instruments such as hammers, little wooden tables, automobile horns, drums, tambourines, saws, and electric bells, to produce precisely and effortlessly the different simple or abstract onomatopoeias and different onomatopoetic harmonies.

These different instruments, in certain orchestral groupings of words-in-freedom, could function orchestrally, each handled by its own executor.

8. Make use of other declaimers, equal or subordinate, mixing or alternating their voices with his.

9. Move to different parts of the room, running with greater or lesser speed or walking slowly, thus making his own body’s movement collaborate in the scattering of words-in-freedom. Each part of the poem will thus have a special light of its own, and the audience, though magnetised as it follows the figure of the declaimer, will nevertheless not statically submit itself to the lyric force but will, as it turns toward different parts of the room, compete with the dynamism of the Futurist poetry.

10. Complete his declamation with two, three, or four blackboards placed in different parts of the room, on which he should rapidly draw theorems, equations, and synoptic tables of lyric values.

11. Must in his declamation be a tireless creator and inventor:

a. Deciding instinctively, at every moment, the point at which the adjective-tone and the adjective-atmosphere should be accentuated and repeated. Since words-in-freedom contain no precise indications, he must follow his own nose in this respect, taking care to achieve the highest geometrical splendour and the greatest numerical sensibility. In this way he will collaborate with the author, precipitating new laws and creating unexpected new horizons in the words-in-freedom that he interprets.

b. Clarifying and explaining, as coldly as an engineer or mechanic, the synoptic tables and equations of lyric values, which form zones of luminous, almost geographic clarity (between the most obscure and most complex parts of the words-in-freedom) as momentary concessions to the reader’s understanding.

c. In all ways imitating motors and their rhythms (without worrying about understanding) while declaiming these more obscure and complex parts, and especially all the onomatopoetic harmonies.

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One thought on “"no flower in the buttonhole, no gloves"

  1. I bet you a million dollars Jackson Mac Low read these very tenets! Especially the 7th and 9th.

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