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Blast! (Or, Loose Notes on Infernokrusher Fiction)

from BLAST 1

In regards to Infernokrusher fiction, I’ve been finding all of these strange parallels between it (as nascent as it may be) and Vorticism, a brief arts and writing movement created by Wyndham Lewis (coined by Ezra Pound) around 1913-1915. Which I knew very little about until I started googling. But there are some uncanny connections.

Here are a few notes on the first issue (of only two!) of the prime Vorticist publication:

BLAST is now considered one of this century’s examples of modernist expression and typography, both historically indispensable and a milestone in modern thought. To the artistic audience of its time, the first issue of BLAST came as a brutal shock (Lewis’s plan was to create a ”battering ram”)… Described by Lewis as ”violent pink,”but by some others as the ”puce monster,” [emphases mine] the large format magazine displaying radical typography and design, featuring a ”Vorticist Manifesto” and eye-popping lists of items to be ”Blessed” and ”Blasted.” ”Blasted” are, e.g., France, English Humor, Victorianism, aesthetes, the Anglican Church, popular writers and composers, do-gooders, sportsmen; ”Blessed” are British Industry, trade unionists, aviators, music hall entertainers, hairdressers, ports, and members of the avant-garde….

Hot pink and puce monsters, friends.

And this is my favorite quote from the Vorticist manifesto:

Elephants are VERY BIG. Motor cars go quickly.

So what does this mean? First of all is the caveat not to take this too seriously, or literally. After all, the molten horrors of WWI did strange things to the brains of Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound. We’re looking back 90 years through a series of looking glasses that we’ll probably never understand. (Ben et al. might have more to say about this; certainly, in regards to Pound, his complicated legacy certainly doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t engage with it.

At the same time…the 21st century is nothing if not an age of syncreticism and poaching, and we can take from the Vorticists (if we want) what we will, much like the Romantics stole what they found valuable from Milton. And in the 21st century, a lot of shit is being blown up all around us. Affordable housing blown up for megamansion tracts, M.O.A.B.s (“designed for psychological operations”), the social safety net, villages on other continents, etc. etc. A multitude of other disjunctive spectacles:

Can fiction be fun and elegaic at the same time?

And still be a great substitute for the crappy branding that is “slipstream”?

Let’s hope so.

Also, we’ll do our best to be kind to each other. Because Wyndham Lewis was kind of an asshole.

Thu, June 2 2005 » Fiction

15 Responses

  1. Dave Schwartz June 2 2005 @ 2:19 pm

    After all, the molten horrors of WWI did strange things to the brains of Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound.

    So are we as much reacting to the horror and absurdity of the post-9/11 world as we are being ironic and silly?

  2. David Moles June 2 2005 @ 2:32 pm


  3. Alan June 2 2005 @ 2:32 pm

    I think, perhaps, that it might involve reacting to the cultural disconnect in regards to post-9/11 horror and absurdity. (E.g., the crypto-wars in many places of the world, our media’s blitheness, etc.)

    With the fine line between absurdity and silliness always being present.

    Or maybe that’s what I’ve been thinking a lot lately and I’ve been squeezing it into an infernokrusher box.

  4. David Moles June 2 2005 @ 6:19 pm

    You mean to say, with the fine line between absurdity and silliness always being smeared into illegibility by MONSTER TRUCKS.

    (Flippant is the new ironic.)

  5. Alan June 2 2005 @ 6:42 pm

    That will work.

    It’s almost an alchemical process between absurdity and silliness.

    silliness monster truck mayhem absurdity

    Something like that.

  6. Theodora Goss June 2 2005 @ 7:26 pm

    “(Flippant is the new ironic.)”

    Lovely! I’m only going to wear flippant from now on.

  7. krushkuer June 2 2005 @ 10:53 pm

    naptha-charred treaties
    in guantanamo toilets
    krush-bunny jihad

  8. Meghan McCarron June 3 2005 @ 12:17 am

    oh my god. post- WWI literary movements are my favorite EVER. We should totally steal, and steal liberally.

    Flippant is perhaps the new ironic, or is the new ironic treating supposively important things (such as “literature,” said with a british accent) flippantly?

    And damn, man, congrats on the story collection coming out from small beer. just saw that now. awesome.

  9. Dave June 3 2005 @ 10:49 am

    The wikipedia entries on Vorticism and BLAST are enlightening, in an eerie way. The cover of BLAST #1 has a hot pink background (!), with the word “BLAST” sprawled diagonally across it in block letters. There’s also a chunk of a manifesto (it differs from the one Alan linked to above) reprinted in the entry:

    1. Beyond Action and Reaction we would establish ourselves.
    2. We start from opposite statements of a chosen world. Set up violent structure of adolescent clearness between two extremes.
    3. We discharge ourselves on both sides.
    4. We fight first on one side, then on the other, but always for the SAME cause, which is neither side or both sides and ours.
    5. Mercenaries were always the best troops.
    6. We are primitive Mercenaries in the Modern World.
    7. Our Cause is NO-MAN’S.
    8. We set Humour at Humour’s throat. Stir up Civil War among peaceful apes.
    9. We only want Humour if it has fought like Tragedy.
    10. We only want Tragedy if it can clench its side-muscles like hands on its belly, and bring to the surface a laugh like a bomb.

  10. Benjamin Rosenbaum June 3 2005 @ 11:32 am

    And the best part is, Vorticism started in 1913, so they were reacting *precognitively* to the horrors of WWI.

    > Lovely! I’m only going to wear flippant from now on.

    Will there be pictures of this in Locus? (blinks innocently)

    Meta-analysis of the subconscious roots of your own jokes is the new self-obsessed! :-)

  11. Alan June 3 2005 @ 12:56 pm

    Thanks for posting that, Dave. #9 and 10 were what I was trying to say in my post, I guess.

    And I wonder…in 1913, some people had to have some idea what was going on? Or what would go on?

    And Ben, I think we’ll need jerseys before any picture taking in Locus goes on, flippants or not.

  12. David Moles June 3 2005 @ 1:15 pm

    I’m reading that manifesto, with its mercenary fetish — if that’s not a reverse echo of contemporary SF, I don’t know what is —, and all I can think is My God, these guys weretotal geeks! I love it!

  13. Richard Butner June 4 2005 @ 10:13 am

    Speaking of manifestos, until Wiscon I’d completely forgotten about the Good Art Movement, Rowe’s (and my) take on the gravity of the, uh, *nt*rst*t**l *rts crowd, a quick goof we did a couple years back that never got picked up by Google:


  14. Karen June 5 2005 @ 11:51 am

    That is a movement I can respect. I found Mr Rowe’s essay particularly eloquent and persuasive.

  15. David Moles June 5 2005 @ 1:33 pm

    Ditto Karen. And I’m down for the chimichangas.

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  1. Walking Stick Fires in Asimov’s: Infernokrusher Lives | Goblin Mercantile Exchange April 23 2011 @ 10:35 am

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