The Citta Nuova and the Architecture of War

“Let us overturn monuments, pavements, arcades and flights of steps; let us sink the streets and squares; let us raise the level of the city.”

-Antonio Sant’Elia,  Futurist Manifesto of Architecture.


“I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms.”

-Lebbeus Woods, War and Architecture.


Whilst the name of Antonio Sant’Elia is not widely known, anyone who has ever seen Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), or Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner (1982) has beheld the striking power of his legacy as his imposing and gargantuan, yet highly plausible, architectural drawings inspired the architecturally dense worlds of both films. Elia’s most well known works all come from his Citta Nuova (New City) series which the American experimental architect Lebbeus Woods described as, “perhaps, the most famous and influential [drawings] of the early 20th century.”

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Antonio Sant’Elia, Air and train station with funicular cableways on three road levels from La Città Nuova, 1914.

Lebbeus Woods is well positioned to critique and build upon the works of Sant’Elia, as he, more than nearly any other contemporary artist, embraced and carried forth the brilliant flame of Futurism which Marinetti first kindled in Italy in 1909 with his incendiary manifesto and which Sant’Elia further crystallized with his astounding architectural drawings and conceptual writings which brim to overflowing with the steel of mind and the light of purpose. Whilst, like most modern men, Woods certainly was not nearly so sanguine about the prospects of war as the Futurists (who glorified it as the hygiene of the world), he certainly understood its nature well, having dedicated many works to the torturous Siege of Sarajevo – the single longest concentrated attack on a capital city in modern history – which Woods witnessed first-hand. In 2011, Woods wrote of the conflict:

For anyone who saw the burning twin towers in Sarajevo, in the summer of 1992, which were attacked by terrorists bent on undermining the morale of the people of that cosmopolitan city, the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, nine years later, with the same goals in mind, came as no great surprise. The fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War had produced a new type of global struggle based not on vast armies clashing in the field, but on small-scale insurgencies attacking the centers of their enemies’ power, disrupting them, and thereby undermining their self-confidence and ability to dominate others. This new type of warfare was called terrorism. Its main weapon is creating fear in the enemy, both government and ordinary citizens, leading not to armistices, treaties, and other official instruments of reconciliation between legally recognized states, but to de facto victories, in which the insurgents hope to win economic or political concessions that strengthen them in their own domain or globally, in the sense that they are ever more feared and hence ever more powerful and influential.

One significant new feature of this new type of conflict is that opposing sides are not drawn along socio-political lines—one communist and one capitalist—as in the Cold War rivalry between two superpowers, but rather along religious ones. This is a throwback to the Middle Ages, and not Modern at all, except in terms of weaponry and techniques of command and control. The conflict now is primarily between Christians and Muslims. The attack on Sarajevo was carried out by a Christian insurgency against a Muslim majority. The attack on the World Trade Center in New York was carried out by a Muslim insurgency against a Christian majority. Both had the goal of degrading a way of life. Both attacks were attacks on the idea of the city itself.”

Woods’ sensitivity to the times, the city and to the cultural zeitgeists which shape it, is a attribution which he closely shared with Sant’Elia who in his Futurist Manifesto of Architecture, wrote:

“No architecture has existed since 1700. A moronic mixture of the most various stylistic elements used to mask the skeletons of modern houses is called modern architecture. The new beauty of cement and iron are profaned by the superimposition of motley decorative incrustations that cannot be justified either by constructive necessity or by our (modern) taste, and whose origins are in Egyptian, Indian or Byzantine antiquity and in that idiotic flowering of stupidity and impotence that took the name of neoclassicism.

These architectonic prostitutions are welcomed in Italy, and rapacious alien ineptitude is passed off as talented invention and as extremely up-to-date architecture. Young Italian architects (those who borrow originality from clandestine and compulsive devouring of art journals) flaunt their talents in the new quarters of our towns, where a hilarious salad of little ogival columns, seventeenth-century foliation, Gothic pointed arches, Egyptian pilasters, rococo scrolls, fifteenth-century cherubs, swollen caryatids, take the place of style in all seriousness, and presumptuously put on monumental airs. The kaleidoscopic appearance and reappearance of forms, the multiplying of machinery, the daily increasing needs imposed by the speed of communications, by the concentration of population, by hygiene, and by a hundred other phenomena of modern life, never cause these self-styled renovators of architecture a moment’s perplexity or hesitation. They persevere obstinately with the rules of Vitruvius, Vignola and Sansovino plus gleanings from any published scrap of information on German architecture that happens to be at hand. Using these, they continue to stamp the image of imbecility on our cities, our cities which should be the immediate and faithful projection of ourselves.”

How sharp and true do his words ring today! And, likely, well shall they ring unto the future. Both Sant’Elia and Woods share in their ruminations on architecture a delicate sensitivity to time and place, to the nature of the city and its shaping by the forces of a hundred thousand different traditions all vying for dominion (and nearly all ignorant or uncaring about meeting the needs of the evolution of human civilization). Sant’Elia, like all of his Futurist brethern, rejected these traditions as a supreme giving-in to decrepitude and decay, and instead opts to turn The City into a majestic symbolic representation of a “projection of ourselves as we are.” Reification of the present without delay! Woods doesn’t entirely agree (nor entirely disagree) as he writes in his piece War and Architecture,

“In going over what I wrote about this work [on Sarajevo] at the time—in 1993—I find it inadequate in its explanation of what inspired the designs, drawings, and models and what I hoped to achieve by making them. No wonder, I say in hindsight, that they were accused of “aestheticizing violence,” and merely being exploitative of a tragic human condition. I failed to put the work in the broader human context that it needed to be understood as proposals for architecture serving rational and needed purposes. I hope to correct—to the extent I can here—this failure.”

Woods is here throwing up a, “I would never aestheticize violence!” as if that were somehow criminal. We should hastily remark that aestheticizing violence is just as laudable (and potentially deplorable) as aestheticizing any other domain of significant human activity. Nevertheless, Woods, in a slightly less politicized context, writes of war:

Architecture and war are not incompatible. Architecture is war. War is architecture. I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms. I am one of millions who do not fit in, who have no home, no family, no doctrine, no firm place to call my own, no known beginning or end, no “sacred and primordial site.” I declare war on all icons and finalities, on all histories that would chain me with my own falseness, my own pitiful fears. I know only moments, and lifetimes that are as moments, and forms that appear with infinite strength, then “melt into air.” I am an architect, a constructor of worlds, a sensualist who worships the flesh, the melody, a silhouette against the darkening sky. I cannot know your name. Nor you can know mine. Tomorrow, we begin together the construction of a city.”

Such vivacity, why Marinetti or Sant’Elia could well have written those words themselves and should surely laud them were they able! One sees here the convergence most starkley between Sant’Elia and Woods, the city is new because the city, to be a proper and well fitted city must always be new. Perfection is anathema for perfection is stagnation and stagnation is death. Thus they war with time and space itself, eternally, in, as Aaron Traywick once said, “The Endless Game.”

The Futurist Manifesto of Architecture

The speculative techno-poetic document provided below was written in 1914 by the Futurist architect and draftsman, Antonio Sant’Elia [anˈtɔnjo santeˈlia]. I have here reproduced Sant’Elia’s manifesto in it’s entirety for the prospective edification of my readership.

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‘Air and Train Station with Funiculars,’ by A. Sant’Elia (1914). One of 6 drawings included with the manifesto’s original manuscript.

No architecture has existed since 1700. A moronic mixture of the most various stylistic elements used to mask the skeletons of modern houses is called modern architecture. The new beauty of cement and iron are profaned by the superimposition of motley decorative incrustations that cannot be justified either by constructive necessity or by our (modern) taste, and whose origins are in Egyptian, Indian or Byzantine antiquity and in that idiotic flowering of stupidity and impotence that took the name of neoclassicism.

These architectonic prostitutions are welcomed in Italy, and rapacious alien ineptitude is passed off as talented invention and as extremely up-to-date architecture. Young Italian architects (those who borrow originality from clandestine and compulsive devouring of art journals) flaunt their talents in the new quarters of our towns, where a hilarious salad of little ogival columns, seventeenth-century foliation, Gothic pointed arches, Egyptian pilasters, rococo scrolls, fifteenth-century cherubs, swollen caryatids, take the place of style in all seriousness, and presumptuously put on monumental airs. The kaleidoscopic appearance and reappearance of forms, the multiplying of machinery, the daily increasing needs imposed by the speed of communications, by the concentration of population, by hygiene, and by a hundred other phenomena of modern life, never cause these self-styled renovators of architecture a moment’s perplexity or hesitation. They persevere obstinately with the rules of Vitruvius, Vignola and Sansovino plus gleanings from any published scrap of information on German architecture that happens to be at hand. Using these, they continue to stamp the image of imbecility on our cities, our cities which should be the immediate and faithful projection of ourselves.

And so this expressive and synthetic art has become in their hands a vacuous stylistic exercise, a jumble of ill-mixed formulae to disguise a run-of-the-mill traditionalist box of bricks and stone as a modern building. As if we who are accumulators and generators of movement, with all our added mechanical limbs, with all the noise and speed of our life, could live in streets built for the needs of men four, five or six centuries ago.

This is the supreme imbecility of modern architecture, perpetuated by the venal complicity of the academies, the internment camps of the intelligentsia, where the young are forced into the onanistic recopying of classical models instead of throwing their minds open in the search for new frontiers and in the solution of the new and pressing problem: the Futurist house and city. The house and the city that are ours both spiritually and materially, in which our tumult can rage without seeming a grotesque anachronism.

The problem posed in Futurist architecture is not one of linear rearrangement. It is not a question of finding new moldings and frames for windows and doors, of replacing columns, pilasters and corbels with caryatids, flies and frogs. Neither has it anything to do with leaving a façade in bare brick, or plastering it, or facing it with stone or in determining formal differences between the new building and the old one. It is a question of tending the healthy growth of the Futurist house, of constructing it with all the resources of technology and science, satisfying magisterially all the demands of our habits and our spirit, trampling down all that is grotesque and antithetical (tradition, style, aesthetics, proportion), determining new forms, new lines, a new harmony of profiles and volumes, an architecture whose reason for existence can be found solely in the unique conditions of modern life, and in its correspondence with the aesthetic values of our sensibilities. This architecture cannot be subjected to any law of historical continuity. It must be new, just as our state of mind is new.

The art of construction has been able to evolve with time, and to pass from one style to another, while maintaining unaltered the general characteristics of architecture, because in the course of history changes of fashion are frequent and are determined by the alternations of religious conviction and political disposition. But profound changes in the state of the environment are extremely rare, changes that unhinge and renew, such as the discovery of natural laws, the perfecting of mechanical means, the rational and scientific use of material. In modern life the process of stylistic development in architecture has been brought to a halt. Architecture now makes a break with tradition. It must perforce make a fresh start.

Calculations based on the resistance of materials, on the use of reinforced concrete and steel, exclude “architecture” in the classical and traditional sense. Modern constructional materials and scientific concepts are absolutely incompatible with the disciplines of historical styles, and are the principal cause of the grotesque appearance of “fashionable” buildings in which attempts are made to employ the lightness, the superb grace of the steel beam, the delicacy of reinforced concrete, in order to obtain the heavy curve of the arch and the bulkiness of marble.

The utter antithesis between the modern world and the old is determined by all those things that formerly did not exist. Our lives have been enriched by elements the possibility of whose existence the ancients did not even suspect. Men have identified material contingencies, and revealed spiritual attitudes, whose repercussions are felt in a thousand ways. Principal among these is the formation of a new ideal of beauty that is still obscure and embryonic, but whose fascination is already felt even by the masses. We have lost our predilection for the monumental, the heavy, the static, and we have enriched our sensibility with a taste for the light, the practical, the ephemeral and the swift. We no longer feel ourselves to be the men of the cathedrals, the palaces and the podiums. We are the men of the great hotels, the railway stations, the immense streets, colossal ports, covered markets, luminous arcades, straight roads and beneficial demolitions.

We must invent and rebuild the Futurist city like an immense and tumultuous shipyard, agile, mobile and dynamic in every detail; and the Futurist house must be like a gigantic machine. The lifts must no longer be hidden away like tapeworms in the niches of stairwells; the stairwells themselves, rendered useless, must be abolished, and the lifts must scale the lengths of the façades like serpents of steel and glass. The house of concrete, glass and steel, stripped of paintings and sculpture, rich only in the innate beauty of its lines and relief, extraordinarily “ugly” in its mechanical simplicity, higher and wider according to need rather than the specifications of municipal laws. It must soar up on the brink of a tumultuous abyss: the street will no longer lie like a doormat at ground level, but will plunge many stories down into the earth, embracing the metropolitan traffic, and will be linked up for necessary interconnections by metal gangways and swift-moving pavements.

The decorative must be abolished. The problem of Futurist architecture must be resolved, not by continuing to pilfer from Chinese, Persian or Japanese photographs or fooling around with the rules of Vitruvius, but through flashes of genius and through scientific and technical expertise. Everything must be revolutionized. Roofs and underground spaces must be used; the importance of the façade must be diminished; issues of taste must be transplanted from the field of fussy moldings, finicky capitals and flimsy doorways to the broader concerns of bold groupings and masses, and large-scale disposition of planes. Let us make an end of monumental, funereal and commemorative architecture. Let us overturn monuments, pavements, arcades and flights of steps; let us sink the streets and squares; let us raise the level of the city.

I COMBAT AND DESPISE:

All the pseudo-architecture of the avant-garde, Austrian, Hungarian, German and American;

All classical architecture, solemn, hieratic, scenographic, decorative, monumental, pretty and pleasing;

The embalming, reconstruction and reproduction of ancient monuments and palaces;

Perpendicular and horizontal lines, cubical and pyramidal forms that are static, solemn, aggressive and absolutely excluded from our utterly new sensibility;

The use of massive, voluminous, durable, antiquated and costly materials.

AND PROCLAIM:

That Futurist architecture is the architecture of calculation, of audacious temerity and of simplicity; the architecture of reinforced concrete, of steel, glass, cardboard, textile fiber, and of all those substitutes for wood, stone and brick that enable us to obtain maximum elasticity and lightness;

That Futurist architecture is not because of this an arid combination of practicality and usefulness, but remains art, i.e. synthesis and expression;

That oblique and elliptic lines are dynamic, and by their very nature possess an emotive power a thousand times stronger than perpendiculars and horizontals, and that no integral, dynamic architecture can exist that does not include these;

That decoration as an element superimposed on architecture is absurd, and that the decorative value of Futurist architecture depends solely on the use and original arrangement of raw or bare or violently colored materials;

That, just as the ancients drew inspiration for their art from the elements of nature, we—who are materially and spiritually artificial—must find that inspiration in the elements of the utterly new mechanical world we have created, and of which architecture must be the most beautiful expression, the most complete synthesis, the most efficacious integration;

That architecture as the art of arranging forms according to pre-established criteria is finished;

That by the term architecture is meant the endeavor to harmonize the environment with Man with freedom and great audacity, that is to transform the world of things into a direct projection of the world of the spirit;

From an architecture conceived in this way no formal or linear habit can grow, since the fundamental characteristics of Futurist architecture will be its impermanence and transience. Things will endure less than us. Every generation must build its own city. This constant renewal of the architectonic environment will contribute to the victory of Futurism which has already been affirmed by words-in-freedom, plastic dynamism, music without quadrature and the art of noises, and for which we fight without respite against traditionalist cowardice.


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Another of the sketches included with the original manuscript.

Cradle The Fire

All subjective ontological regressions terminate in the abyss of unknowing, into the great void beyond all ken, into the “and then what?” The et ferro here asserts himself, realizing this, he works towards making of himself a glorious pyre which will burn up the amniotic null. Out of darkness, light and out of light, darkness. Darkness fostered by his own hand for the safeguarding of his prizes. The et ferro is preeminently a creature of shade, a acolyte of Apophis – the world-encircler, o’er thrown by the father of Shu and Tefnut. He lies beneath unknowing, seeking to excavate from it the treasures waiting beyond the facility of all limits of perception. -Introduction, First Precepts of the Et Ferro.

A man dies many deaths. The death of the body and then the death of his line and finally, the death of his legacy, the death of his memory, this, the final annihilation. It is dreams which act as the steely bulwark against all such dissolution, whereby the forward-looking man, the man of the morrow, the et ferro, boldly proclaims his defiance of disintegration. He wills to be and from that willing, all other vectors open up before him, gates to which, in goodly time, he might, as yet, fashion a key. What is important is that he affirms those dreams of engagement with the world and ensure they supplant all dreams of escape, for he knows that there is, as yet, nowhere to flee. Our fleeing space must be constructed when the seeding time comes; til then we echo for those still waiting. From dream to deeds he echoes through time, the reverberations of his reshaping of the world far out-pacing his mortal expiration. He moves against entropy, even as it sustains him. “Mad,” you might say, but not nearly mad enough for those of us who behold the end of things in their fullest conceptualization, for those of us who are able to cleave aside the insane shackles of optimism and pessimism alike; blinders all! It is not enough to merely wish that such-and-such were of a certain way without a proper knowing. Those who stumble along such a road have chosen a trepidacious path, for it is, after all, the same as every other, they – those mangy sentimentalists and utopians – have merely folded the wool of their selfsame and mushy brains over their eyes all the better to blot out the pitted spines of the jagged abyss yawning before them like a great and terrible maw. They believe that if they are to fall it were better that they did not see into where! Comfort here is a pathetic balm when the spines, the teeth of that all-consuming mouth, will pierce and tear the flesh and bone all the same and finally swallow one up to the last.

It is from such a recognition that we ought to recognize that existential acrobatics of dancing-about-the-void are both futile and head-thrashingly annoying. No one has the feet for it, for we’ve yet to cultivate the agility. Machines for future times! The inability to acknowledge this fact, a most tiresome routine. All this babbling about “purpose” and “meaning” codified into the stones and trees and movements of celestial bodies or apparent in the general trajectory of history itself. How anthropomorphization drags the mind through the shabby rubble; those battered souls who’ve undergone its ravishment seem to have naught left in their skulls but jellied slime! What is more deplorable is that such is not the case; how many intelligent bodies malformed, how many sterling minds perverted, by this unfalsifiable and seemingly irresistible inclination towards agency-imposition, of Fate!

Those who are yet to come must sheer themselves of all of it. Away with your fickle cries of “predestination.” Away with your shuttering moans of “nihilism.” Away with all pathetic whining of “ultimate purpose” or its lack thereof! Near we draw to nothing of the sort, lest the poison should sully our pristine memory palace, shattering the lovely urns and portraits from the walls with a mindless reptilian fury. They shall not pass our defenses, our palace is too high, our moat, too deep; girded by caltrops and trenches and arrows, valiantly slung from bold and stalwart towers! We call forth a cannonade! Shoot them down, shoot them down! Back, you invaders! Back into the mud and the muck, back into the jellied slime from whence you slither! This shall be our cry. Melodramatic you say? Good. All the better! For it will not be by staid argumentation that we should, as of one body, rise above the murky undercurrents of the populace at large but by dramatic excitation. Nor is it by argumentation that we should convince them; and why should we? Before we convince anyone of anything, we should ask, “Are they worthy of the gesture?” and “are we worthy of asking?!” A baying mob is ever unimpressed by formal logic, preferring instead, the escapism of spectacle, as the Romans well realized. Failing it, the demand for libation will invariably deteriorate into catalytic howls, thirsting antecedents of a wild and grotesque bloodletting; the emergence of the lower brain. No, don’t call us “snobs” we are no such things, “elitists,” yes, but “snob,” why we should resent that deeply! A elitist is not one who, at the first, places himself or herself, as a member of the elite, but one who merely recognizes that those who are of superior attribution should be harried to the front of all that there concerns them. The gaudy flame of our creativity cannot but falter under the auspices of the indolent and insane. Thus, why should we then pass to the great and seething mass the torch or set them about crafting another? That would be foolishness supreme. They’ve not the wits for it. But neither do our “intellectuals” who scribble in their ivory towers endless tracts of faux indignation and righteous proscriptions! Truly, the new theocrats; only theirs – unlike the musty and ascetic religions of old – is a faith of imminent promise and all the more alluring for it. Here and now the paradise! they proclaim, with wild gestures and charts of sorry correlation. But we shall not be seduced, we’ve heard the tale of Odysseus and know well enough all their proclamations of idle splendor amounts to nothing more than slavery. Indeed, the academic is far sorrier than the rabble, for at least the rabble, from which we draw many of our number, has loyalty and that gentler sense of empathic dignity borne neath the dusty sun of shared tribulations and muscle-rending labor; at least they have a pride of their kith and kin and all their precedents. Drawn up in their cloister, the hermetic pendant cares only for his status, his paycheck and the security it brings.

Away with all of that! We will not be monks, absenting the world, nor the baying crowd which mindlessly engages it; we will instead move as eagles, dashing through the thermals, effulgent in the golden gale, ducking in and out of the mundane broil with a flaring of feathers to pluck the snails from the briny swallows. When we split, with our gilded talons, those spiraled shells open, a blazing fire there we shall kindle. Once spied we shall raise up our voices as one and send forth a message to all the world:

Let no hissing downpour abate the flame of your ceaseless fervor, bright men of the morrow! Like Prometheus, we bring that good and radiant stuff which cleaves the tenebrous smog from Fate’s great loom. In goodly time we shall burn even that to the ground, scatter its remnants to the four winds and construct our own in its stead!

First Precepts of the Et Ferro

The et ferro as quaesitor de tenebris ignis.

[-ς-∧-]

The willful ‘I’ of the mind first, then the body, then the world, then the universe and all beyond. Palindromic continuation. The ‘I’ in the ‘self’ is a manifestation of the totality of the mind which is the filter through which the central organism wherefrom the generative conceptions emerge which individuates itself from the totality of the holo which is the generative locus for those principals by which all other individuations there follow.

All subjective ontological regressions terminate in the abyss of unknowing, into the great void beyond all ken, into the “and then what?” The et ferro here asserts himself, realizing this, he works towards making of himself a glorious pyre which will burn up the amniotic null. Out of darkness, light and out of light, darkness. Darkness fostered by his own hand for the safeguarding of his prizes.

The et ferro is preeminently a creature of shade, a acolyte of Apophis – the world-encircler, o’er thrown by the father of Shu and Tefnut. He lies beneath unknowing, seeking to excavate from it the treasures waiting beyond the facility of all limits of perception.

The et ferro is not a esoteric self-construction, but a de-esoteric self-deconstruction who lays before him, in the starkest fashion, all the fundamental questions of life and its end without fear or hesitation.

  1. The Who-am? 
  2. The What-am? 
  3. The Why-am? 
  4. The Where? 
  5. The What-then-now-then?

All subsequent questions arising therefrom he tackles with likewise vigor. As much as can be given. By asking the question alone has he answered the first question and the fruits thereof yield answers to the second and the second to the third and the third to the fourth and the fourth to the fifth upon which new vistas present themselves. All points on the map inexorably interconnected, weaving themselves unto a holo within THE holo. Once the water has been drawn from the well of unknowning and oneself is known as a coherent self, the subject turns to all that it perceives as different therefrom and seeks to extinguish his quest for continued individuation as he realizes that there is no move beyond the holo there are only moves beyond sub-holos there contained. He finds himself trapped like a fly in some spider’s web; affixed to the whole of reality, unable to flee from it, to move beyond or above it and yet when despair strikes this is all that he wishes to do and thus, his despair is intensified a thousand-fold. Pleasure is fleeting but pain is omnipresent. He then makes a pact with pain. Plotting in the shadows to stab his tormentor through the heart. Why, after all, should one honor accords with tyrants? Contemplating the stockpiles he magnifies his desire for revenge. Within the halls of his memory palace he plots the murder of the stars and the violent overthrow of the sun, horrid sovereign of the sky. When he sleeps he dreams only of devouring the world entire.

To out-burn entropy itself is his highest aspiration. In the total consumption of heat-death he finds his solace.

[-∨-∅-∧-]


Ludwig Wittgenstein was once asked the question: “What is your aim in Philosophy?” He responded: “To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle.”

The project of the et ferro is starkly different: He wishes to bend ‘the bottle’ to his will and set it afire and melt it whole if it does not.


To the question: Why et ferro? Because, one must be as iron to weather the fire.


[∃-∧]


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Sex, Violence, Death, Toil: A Brief Primer on Fiction Writing, Prt.5 [Coda]

Those that wish to shift any power structure will need to pervade not just in the military, the media and the legislation-complex but also in the arts.

– A Brief Primer on Fiction Writing, Part. 4

In the previous installment of this series I briskly documented the strange case of the self-styled “Leftist Fight Club,” created by the organization, Knights of Socialism (no, really, that’s what they call themselves) of the University of Central Florida. The group was inspired by the film Fight Club which was, in turn, inspired by the fictional novel of the same name by freelance journalist and transgressive novelist, Chuck Palahniuk. I illustrated this organization due to how starkly it showed the way in which art can work as a model for human action (outside of a momentary shaping of consciousness – that is to say, that which moves well beyond merely evoking a, “Ah, that’s cool.”). But it is far from a isolated incident.

Art as a model for human action.  (continued)

Casting our attention back in time to the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte we can see the power of dynamic art to sway the minds and hearts of men by the numerous cartoons which were printed by the British to defame him after that once venerable sovereignty had set its sights upon the newly founded French Empire.

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The Plumb-Pudding In Danger, by James Gillray. The pictured-above is the most famous of the Napoleonic Cartoons & features the Emperor himself [right] seated across from British Prime Minister, William Pitt [left].
Such ridiculous caricatures upset the Emperor nearly as much as it amused its target demographics. In fact, the artwork so perturbed Napoleon (who as a master statesman knew well enough the import of “optics”) that he attempted, unsuccessfully, to convince the British newspapers to suppress them which only further inflamed the pre-war tensions between the two countries and invariably contributed to Britain’s ultimate decision to topple the new, and seemingly ever-expanding, French regime. The British, however, were not the only one’s utilizing art to their political ends, for Napoleon himself commissioned numerous paintings of himself, typically highly romanticized, after each of his successful battles to the effect that every battle was garnished in a aura of sacrality. The most popular of these numerous portraits, Napoleon Crossing The Alps, is still endlessly reproduced today.

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Napoleon Crossing The Alps by Jacques-Louis David

But let us return to our central concern, writing, and flash forth to 1909, Paris.

Le Figuro has just published a most shocking text upon the front page of their magazine.

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“Housing with external lifts and connection systems to different street levels”, from La Città Nuova, by Futurist Architect, Antonio Sant’Elia

The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism.

The text, penned by the avante-garde Alexandrian-Italian poet, F.T. Marinetti,  venerate the arrival of the machinic age and establish, “-war as the world’s only hygiene-,” and “-scorn for woman-,” as well as a whole host of revolutionary political aspirations which were as negatory and violet as they were prescient and constructive. The document would go on to spawn the socio-political art movement known as Futurism (not to be confused with Futurology – someone who is interested in prospective technology, a term which, today, is often used interchangeably with what we shall call lowercase ‘futurism’). The Futurists in their near 40 year reign, lead by Marinetti, aided in the creation of Fascism, guided the rise of Mussolini, championed both World Wars (and fought in them), pioneered the arts with the creation of noise music and free word poetry and inspired three of the most well known modern art movements, Dada, Vorticism and Surrealism – all three of which, in turn, continue in their own subtle ways, to influence art to this very day.

The reason futurism was so successful is that, despite it’s chaotic veneer, it, rather uniquely, was expressly designed and consciously, methodically implemented into every sphere of life. There were futurist theories on war, aesthetics,  dance, music, politics (they advocated for women’s suffrage and sexual liberation for the express purpose of destabilizing society). They even had futurist cook books. But more than all of the ephermera, Futurism was a philosophy of life, wherein one strove ever to extend and glorify, not just one’s self, but the whole of the world even at the cost of its selfsame destruction. It was the endless, ceaseless, remorseless, ripping away of all that which was stultified and corrosive and hurling oneself at the world with, as Marinetti put it, “-ardor, splendor, and generosity, to swell the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.”

 

All this from a five page short-story/manifesto written by a relatively unknown, non-native-born poet.

Remember that when next you doubt the efficacy of your penmanship.

Lift up your heads!

Erect on the summit of the world, once again we hurl defiance to the stars!

-ending verse of the Futurist Manifesto

The Aesthetics of Leadership: A Manifesto

No successful leader of a people in human history has ever been a man possessed by a fear of power. To talk of a politics of power-renunciation is to talk of suicide or slavery, yet this is the current model (i.e. Merkel, Trudeau). Americans hold it as a sacral moral principal that our leaders be those who are pushed up onto a precarious platform of peers who can at any moment change their mind and throw him over. They throw him over not by violent revolution or ideological out-maneuvering (in the hypothetical utopia), but by simple, unthinking revilement for desired placations, unfulfilled – followed swiftly by the ballot boot.

It is this latter point which bears some consideration; the idea that a leader should serve a system or an ideology rather than a people. In America, the president does not (generally) serve the American People nor even its supreme code of laws, The Constitution, but rather the bureaucracy that interpenetrates it and the manifold moneyed interests which ensure their goodly placing (for sufficient favors of compensation, of course).

The picture of national American leadership, generally speaking, is one where the populace delights in their lords renouncing their power even as said lords continue to amass it. It is one where politicians do not jump forth to uplift, defend and lead their kith and kin, but one wherein they lust after the coinage of superPAC darkmoney groups (, i.e. AIPAC) and the societal adoration of coastal elites and international sov-corps and shell organizations (i.e. Amnesty International, Open Society Foundation, The Fahr Group LLC, ect). Whilst such groups can not always outright buy the loyalties of any given politician, they are usually more than well funded enough to rent them out from time to time.

It is for these very reasons that the prevailing model of the leading man is insufficient (hence the perpetual lib-prog outcry Trump, Pence, Bannon – authoritarians all! as they, in part, buck this model) for efficacious governance. When coupled with crippling bureaucracy and corruption the stultification becomes only more starkly apparent. This simply will not do, not in a age where nuclear arms, globalization, demographic shift, foreign meddling, internal rot and threats from desert death cults threaten the denizens of the United States at every turn. To combat these ills a new man of action, perhaps prefigured by Donald Trump himself, will need to arise. However, unlike our current leader, he should be a man of manners, a man of further reserve, not given over to fits of emotional turbulence.

He should be a “man of the people,” connected to them by a indelible bond of blood, virtues, hopes and shared spaces, but yet well above their class, showing it in his bearing (yet never beating them over the head with his status!)

He should be a man of steel and industry of energy and verve; ever ready to cast himself into the construction of a grand program of national works!

He, this future leader of men and builder of great works, must drive wholly against the grain of the prevailing system whilst working within it – like the ichneumon – to cleave aside the infernal tangle and decimate all those who had dared erect it. As war is politics by other means, our future commander, our prospective leading man, must be sanguine in engaging it. He must subvert, he must destroy. He must conquer.

His means.

Total subversion.

Total war.

His ends.

Restoration and its improvement.


To actualize such a process one needs some directionality – one needs a program for a building towards of such a man. For even those that fail to meet the whole of the measure will be invaluable for those other weighty positions beneath, without which a government cannot sustain itself, no matter how grand its leadership.

When Napoleon Bonaparte returned from his exile, he desired a bloodless coup and so marched with his thousand and so soldiers upon Grenoble which was then under the control of Louis XVIII’s new and extremely unpopular government. Government officials were given word that the dethroned emperor was to be shot on sight. A Royalist general under Louis’ command intercepted Bonaparte and his men at a pass near Laffray before he could reach Grenoble. To the great confusion of the general’s soldiers, Napoleon’s men advanced with muskets reversed. The royalist general gave the order to fire but they were so shaken by this curious display that they refused as Napoleon himself walked stoically within range of their guns, his voice ranging off the narrow pass.

‘Soldiers, I am your emperor.  Know me!  If there is one of you who would kill his Emperor, here I am’.

He threw open his travel coat as if inviting a bullet. Laying himself completely bare to the deadly soldiers before him. Not one among Louis’ men dared take up the challenge. Momentarily they tore the white royalist cockades from their garb, dashed them to the ground, abandoned their weapons and ran to embrace their kinsman, shouting, ‘Vive l’Empereur!’

If that is not the height, the very summit, of rightful leadership, such a thing does not exist in all this world.

Update: Logos Anthology Part 2 In Works

Regular readers may have seen that we have complied a free ebook of some of our best past writing. Shortly, a second volume will be added focusing solely on political/aesthetic manifestos, many of which will be unique to the book and will not have been previously published on the site.

In the coming months the Logos Club will be ramping up its efforts at hard-copy (paper & pulp) publication and *may* begin offering hard-copy books in limited quantity.

As always, thank you for your patronage and happy reading.

Sex, Violence, Death, Toil: A Brief Primer On Fiction Writing, Prt. 1

I like what I do. Some writers have said in print that they hated writing and it was just a chore and a burden. I certainly don’t feel that way about it. Sometimes it’s difficult. You know, you always have this image of the perfect thing which you can never achieve, but which you never stop trying to achieve. But I think … that’s your signpost and your guide. You’ll never get there, but without it you won’t get anywhere.

– Cormac McCarthy, Jun. 1, 2008

Fiction writing is often perceived, and subsequently spoken of, as if it were some magical art, some eldritch and impenetrable ability of numinous convocation which arrives and departs from the conscious mind like a furious blast of ball-lightening (which, interestingly enough, are theorized to be responsible for the numerous cases of real spontaneous combustion throughout history). Whilst reaching towards (and ultimately grasping) the numinous should be the end goal of all of the higher forms of fiction, it is a mistake to view the craft as solely the providence of arcane geniuses, as a venture which can only be undertook at the precise moment of inspiration.

Inspiration is all fine and dandy but it is wholly insufficient in and of itself to create a substantial work of art. A work of fiction which is nothing but inspirationally driven is one which is wholly impulsively driven; it is much the same as a grand and beautifully crafted ship without its rudder! It might well inspire a kind of awe but it won’t be able to move an inch and will invariably capsize in the coming storm, lost to all and every man beneath the thunderous swell of bio-hum. There is also the problem of time in relation to a work of fiction; whilst it is never wise to make haste when writing a novel or short story for the sake of speed itself there must also be reasonable timetables set forth for the writer if he or she is ever to finish the project upon which they are so arduously plying their talents. It is a highly romanticized conception of the writer as a powerfully minded yet tragically underappreciated soul which ultimately leads to nothing but stagnation. If you aren’t a genius or a consistent partaker in Ginsbergesque ritualism then it is highly unlikely that bold and evocative inspiration sufficient to carry the entirety of setting, plot, characters and theme will oft strike; this is, in no wise, a bad thing!

Contrary to the romanticized American conception of the fiction writer, he treats his work in much the same fashion as might a lumberjack or gas station clerk. He gets up early, takes notes, watches his time, writers consistently (preferably daily) and passionately and has a distinct objective in mind whilst he is doing so. That is, if he wishes to be a successful writer in the total sense of the term, meaning, successful both financially and, far more importantly, artistically. It is here I would offer some mild advice to those amongst you who aspire to write fiction in any wise (hopefully without being too boorish in so doing).

  • Purchase or borrow a note book or journal (I much prefer leather-bound journals for their superior aesthetic appeal and durability) and take notes whilst you are away from your computer (unless, that is, you still do the work on a typewriter!). This helps not only flesh out already established ideas, but also preserves new ideas that might otherwise perish in the bottomless marsh of forgetfulness
  • Don’t read whilst you write. Meaning: do not take up another work of fiction whilst you are engaging in your own work. The reason for this is simple; originality. Whilst one should most certainly shun originality for its own sake there is a tendency for the “voice” and style of more powerful and skilled writers to overtake the minds (and thus the page) of those, less versed in the craft. It is extremely important for the avid writer to read and read widely and deeply, but not at the same time he plies his trade as this threatens the authenticity of the piece.
  • Concentrate upon the theme of the story before everything else. A story, no matter how exciting the action, plot or characters will ultimately be nothing more than a mere confection of the intellect without philosophical grounding; without ideas which one wishes to build upon, expound, communicate and spread.
  • Don’t overly fret over grammar and instead focus on authenticity within the framework of the world which you are creating. That is to say, if you are writing a sentence and find it pleasing and perfectly suited to describing some situation crucial to the plot then do not there deviate to grammatical puritanism. After all, any true blunders you do make will be fixed by the editor upon the completion of the manuscript.
  • Most importantly, actually practice writing. Set a schedule and stick to it. The simplest, but hardest of “skills” for a writer to master (I include myself in this criticism!)

Now that we have that out of the way we shall turn our attention to the actual structure of a story and what it is that makes certain stories standout, that is, what makes them good. To speak not at all about any particular theme, a truly great work of art will always deal with three things: sex, violence and death. It is my opinion that any work of art which deals not at all with this omnipresent trio of human universals is not worthy of one’s time or, indeed, of really being called a work of art at all.

[to be continued in prt.2]

The New Magisterium: A Manifesto

FOUNDATION and CREED

I advocate for a new unification in the Western Arts. I do not think that this is a trivial enterprise to undertake. No mere bohemian commune or Expressionist enclave, nor some flowery garden where one can paint Monetesque water lilies to the hearts content in idyllic splendor. Rather it will be a bringing together of the vital forces — masculine virility, strength of will, ardor of character, moral conviction, creativity and ego — and the crucial spheres of discourse — politics, religion, philosophy, sex, race, science and culture. This new school of thought of the arts no mere factory of window-dressing and haughty pretension but rather one of cold reason, clear forethought and purposeful external energy — we of this new aesthetic magisterium act and re-act with our art. We use art as a stepping stone for our goals, our creation’s persistence a monument to our achievements, both past and present and of those still yet to come. Ironclad, militaristic and unyielding save in the face of yet greater magnificence.

We shall herald a return to form, to the classics, to allegory, to forthright symbolism, to meaning, to beauty. We shall return to the past but we shall not stymie there — we do not wish to be the Old Masters we wish to surpass them. We do not seek to write as Faulkner or Sophocles, we seek to do them one better, to build upon their exploits. Nor do we wish to molder away in the septic confines of some decaying museum — our art is active, aggressive and formative. Art, in essence, is creation, therefore we shall be builders — societal architects. We will sound a vivid horn of combat against the invading hordes of socialism, deconstructionism, postmodernism, liberalism, egalitarianism, feminism, Islam, and every other nihilistic vice of thought and invasive mental infection.

We shall be political satirists, lampooning the folly of the hypocritical “talking suits,” we will be graffiti artists, prowling the streets to shame and oust the deviant and the criminal with florid scrawl. We shall be painters and illustrators, etchers and sculptors, crafting grand displays of our societies virtues and dire reminders of follies long since past. We shall be writers cutting straight to the heart of the human soul and expounding upon all manner of philosophies, ills and virtues, witticisms and worthwhile knowledge. We shall be architects who craft mighty monuments to our communities, our nations and our highest aspirations — those angels of our better natures.

WARNING

Obviously this is far from likely to take place anytime soon – merely the future as we wish it to be but not a future completely beyond obtainment. The internet at large is a wonderful place but one which is far from ideal for consistently constructive dialogue — especially in regards to the “pretentious” nature of art (how detached the act of purposeful creation has become from reality!). Thus it is ever important to engage in real life, on a local level, to speak to one’s friends and acquaintances – to debate and convince but not to preach. To be more than some nameless, faceless, shapeless mass of words and images hanging in the whirling void of cyberspace, ever slipping through the shimmering cracks of bio-hum like so many grains of hourglass sand. Those wild flung and ghosting words are merely a catalyst to a greater collective emergence of individual power — they are not the ends but only the means.

The ends are built upon direct and consistent conversation, a face-to-face engagement. The eyes are the windows to the soul – this is not said for nothing. And so it is important to be ever vigilant against building one’s artistic ideals upon the echos of others whose muted mouthings one can barely make out. We always guard against the pitfalls of unconscious role-play, how terribly easy a thing in a warbling space where there are no longer any consequences for one’s actions! And how ridiculous it appears to the reflective to see a artist shouting down the world or building up his own when he knows nothing more of it than what he’s read in college!

CODA

We now know our trajectory. We know our art, our ideals, our enemies and our friends. We know of our failings, those inherent and inheritable. We need now only find our courage — courage enough to speak of our ruthless art in the classrooms, cafes and galleries of our lands. To be able to hoist our thoughts from the darkened inkwells of our minds unto glossy pages and rough-worked canvas, unhindered by fear of rejection or reconciliation.

The bridges have already been burned and so we learn to swim.

[Originally published via WCR]

Towards an Art of Purpose

[Originally published via WCR]

I have often heard it said, when in a position of judgmental argumentation, “Who are you to judge, who are you to say what is good or bad!” The answer, so starkly white-hot in the mind as to burn through its cranial cage, is always the same, “The only one present.” This truism can be applied to nearly everything but I find it is, in my experience, most often brought to bear on art.

AA78 by Zdzislaw Beksinski 1978
Beksinski’s “AA78”

“Art,” a new word really needs to be invented to encapsulate what that mighty triumvirate of letters used to signify. Those letters which gave the world the Sistine Chapel,  Bernini’s soul-searing statuary, Beksinski’s hellish paintings, explorations of the evils of Man, the mad-dash glory of Italian Futurism and the harrowing, primal writings of McCarthy. But they have also given birth to the likes of the alcoholic smatterings of Pollock, the idiocy of Andy “Art is anything you can get away with” Warhol as well as Marcel Duchamp and his foppishly signed toilet seat — the new paradigm of the avantgarde. Warhol is also often quoted as saying, “I think everybody should like everybody,” as well as the patently untrue  “Making money is art, working is art, good business is art.” One might therefore assume that brushing one’s teeth and defecating were art as well. By such definitions; why not? What is not? What is?

Worse than these statements shallowness and patent falsehood is their grotesque distortion of the classical usage of the word. Art as a definition has been totally and utterly erased by postmodernism, rendered into amorphous mush. It now means, “Something I can do that is useless — or nearly so.” It’s a literal manifestation of Oscar Wilde’s “All art is quite useless.” Meaning of course that the externalization of an artists ideas or concept is enough — form, function, derivation of spiritual sustenance all goes out the window. What it is matters less here than that it is. The root of the Conceptual Art School. Something like, “I art, therefore it’s good… well, good enough.” It should really be a crime for a mind so large to think so very, very small.

This aforementioned postmodernist tendency in art would not bear so much discussion if it did not also entail the outright destruction of those schools of thought which sought a purpose in their creations — those schools that wished to utilize art as a temple, a internal refuge and source of meditation, a teaching tool, a pathway to political critique and a weapon to combat the moral evils of the day. Art which now speaks to the essence of man’s soul is all too often seen as “stuffy,” or, “snobbish.” Those artists who demand some collective standard, objective or subjective, by which to judge a work of art are told they need to think “outside the box.” But how can this be done when there is no longer a box at all?  The new standard is “For it’s own sake” — no longer do works of art even serve their creators. Those who have gone to art college know what I mean — ask the question, what’s your work about, all too often the reply from the student will be, “I don’t know.” As with the Dadaists, irrationality, chaos and irreverence are championed. Unlike with Dada, the Postmodernists do not utilize these characteristics in the purpose of some higher goal but simply because they are antithetical to what has come before. The classical past is anathema and the new reigns — not because it is good but because it is new. This is just as foolish as romanticizing the events of the past because they happened long ago. The time is now and to the postmodernists, it must never be then.

When faced with such overwhelming, neigh omnipresent, vacuousness one should not fall into the all too easy trap of defeatism. One should not throw up one’s hand and say, “Art is dead.” What to do then? Bring back the manifesto! So seemingly quaint; the word itself rings like a antiquated bell — but why? Atomization (the deplorable case of the death of the author, the birth of the reader). Bring back the tradition of artistic “School of Thought” of “The Movement.” Ruthlessly (and subtly) deride relentless-Escapism and the deconstruction of aesthetic standards at every conceivable turn. Bring back elitism! When you wish to have your car fixed one would be mad to think of the mechanic “who is he to fix my car!” No — one calls around and chooses the best mechanic for the job, the one whose skills (and price tag) outshine the others. So too does this hold in every conceivable area of one’s life where skill and intelligence plays a part so why a different standard for art? Most importantly, bring back a bloody definition! Cleave to it and defend it, whatever it may happen to be.

That definition shall no longer include the tawdry rebel-without-a-cause nor the bystander nor the attention-seeker. That definition will lend legitimacy to those individuals who cast their souls out into the wide ambit of the world like blinding spears. A manifestation of principal. Those individuals whose work sings songs of violence and death, of fertility and re-birth. Of internal empire and external community. Of Reason as Emotion’s master. Of the transcendental, the numinous — the supra-rational.  This new school of thought must be cogent, organized and consistently, doggedly external, its body of works pouring out into the world with all the force and speed of some thundering pack of draft-horses. In short, I advocate for the death of the reader and the re-birth of the author.

Aesthetics of the Terrestrische Lehramt

We, the ceaseless et ferro, reject all art for its own sake. First and foremost due to the logical incoherence of the proposition; art can in no wise have a sake for it has not a self! The creation of art for its own sake – pah! – such is the narcissistic impulse of ego massaging, a pastime of the directionless or the self-deficient. Man’s ego needs not furnishing or some kind of “dressing up” but rather a grand bolstering in both strength and magnitude.

We affirm, in all quarters, the artist whose craft is brought into delicate synthesis with the whole of his goals. That daring soul who realizes that all avenues of terrestrial action lead back to the will and forth to the realization of it’s directionality. No more will we craft or applaud the works of the escapists and the neutralists – those ossified and fascicle purveyors of utopia – remember well the genesis of the word, “Nowhere!” and such is just where it shall lead us! Rather than escaping from the banal, the tedious, the painful, the arduous and the terrifying, the artist should be actively working to confront and stamp out all those aspect which he had hitherto flown from. Such purpose should be central to our art.

The Critics we shall applaud and dismiss in the most high-handed of fashions those who frump and pout, screaming, “Everyone’s a critic these days.” They invariably say it with a theatrical shake of the head, a note of venom on the tongue, the faux-exasperation of the socialite with too much time on his hands – as if it were a bad thing. Every man should be a critic and a most scathing, blunt and incisive one at that. Our works shall be critical tools, first for the smashing of art with a capital A, the calcified remnants of dogma and “institutionalism,” then plied to the creation of dynamic new artistic collectives.

We affirm the bohemians and the hermeticists, both whom exalt art for a purpose higher then mere, blase stimulation, that gateway to hedonism, and champion their methods; first, art as communal binding, second, art as sacral crystallization – we shall add the third – art as driving mechanical force, a leaping off the high, jagged promontory of the age and free-flying above it’s accumulated filth, inhaling the salted breeze as we turn our faces, not skyward, but to the roiling earth below.

In our flight we envision soaring mega-structures of concrete and iron, glass and steel whose roots seek down the very heart of the earth, encompassing the globe like a great chitin shell, a godly suit of mail, reflecting our unshakable, metallic resolve. We see criss-crossing railways that snake across, above and beneath the tilting ambit of those ominous structures like the luminous, colossal tendrils of our very souls, heralding sleek, titanium vessels that roll out and down from the hundreds of thousands of tracks, into and out of buildings and under and out of the ground, dispatching “the road” with their stupendous omnidirectionality. We spy factories who billow clouds of smoke as grey as that which whisks from the cigarettes we smoke in symbolic delight, out of whose clanking innards pour a ecstatic conglomerate of sweating, straining eisenhausers, who, by fiery and stolid drive to terrestrial mastery, drain the fetid bogs and muck-filled swamps, cut the trees and bushes, divert the rivers and streams and glass the snowy wastes! We envision, in those conquered lands, the erection of industrial academies who hurl out upon the world a magnificent cavalcade of warrior-poets who dispense with the adage: The pen is mightier than the sword. Adopting instead the battle-cry: The pen IS the sword!

With this vision in mind we reject with utmost fervor the doctrine of separation, that codification of unwritten laws which reads: Art for the stars, man for the earth. Instead we shout: Art for the reshaping of the world – the stars can wait!

On The Writing of Tomorrow: A Manifesto

In struggling to concoct a new style I threw myself into a ardent contemplation of all those values which I venerate and all those that I eschew. After all, what is writing but a crystallization of thought and what is worth writing but those ideas which one most venerates. It then stands to reason that one’s writing should be as tempered as one’s mind, containing all of it’s moral mannerism and doing away with all that one holds up shield and spear against. Therefore, I lay my tenets bare for the benefit of the less astute and linguistically minded as well as for the more judicious and discerning to pick apart like vultures upon the carcass of some sun-rent beast, for happily do I welcome it.

Minimalism.

Our writing should be like a ardently tended bonfire, brilliant, luminous, burning and yet never lasting longer than it needs to. This precept is based upon a fundamental understanding of the brevity of human life – why should one write 500 pages for a novel when all that needs be said can be written in 200? In writing with purpose one must also have respect for time, your own as well as your readers.

Unbound By Forms – Bound by Standards.

Literary forms are but guidelines – commas, periods, all these are signifies of a particular manner of speech and if such manners can be accurately portrayed without their use then all the better. What is immeasurably more crucial is that a new and unified standard is raised like a battle flag to better illuminate the placing of all writers within it. For without a objective standard by which all are measured, none can be measured.

Passionate Circumnavigation of Demure.

Never should one’s work be shy or timid, modest or humble – after all, what is humility but the act of consciously belittling one’s own prowess? We reject with rabid fervor those who rank modesty among the virtues, for to the writer, everything should be seen as it is and in no way other. To underplay one’s own ability’s is as much a departure from the truth as the egoism of sophistry!