Wyndham Lewis
Quotations


The art of advertisement, after the American manner, has introduced into all our life such a lavish use of superlatives, that no standard of value whatever is intact.

We are the first men of a Future that has not materialized. We belong to a “great age” that has not “come off.” We moved too quickly for the world. We set too sharp a pace.

In the democratic western countries so-called capitalism leads a saturnalia of “freedom,” like a bastard brother of reform.

The intelligence suffers today automatically in consequence of the attack on all authority, advantage, or privilege. These things are not done away with, it is needless to say, but numerous scapegoats are made of the less politically powerful, to satisfy the egalitarian rage awakened.

With a new familiarity and a flesh-creeping “homeliness” entirely of this unreal, materialistic world, where all “sentiment” is coarsely manufactured and advertised in colossal sickly captions, disguised for the sweet tooth of a monstrous baby called “the Public,” the family as it is, broken up on all hands by the agency of feminist and economic propaganda, reconstitutes itself in the image of the state.

As a result of the feminist revolution, “feminine” becomes an abusive epithet.

Feminism was recognized by the average man as a conflict in which it was impossible for a man, as a chivalrous gentleman, as a respecter of the rights of little nations (like little Belgium), as a highly evolved citizen of a highly civilized community, to refuse the claim of this better half to self-determination.

The ideas of a time are like the clothes of a season: they are as arbitrary, as much imposed by some superior will which is seldom explicit. They are utilitarian and political, the instruments of smooth-running government.

Prostration is our natural position. A wormlike movement from a spot of sunlight to a spot of shade, and back, is the type of movement that is natural to men.

A sort of war of revenge on the intellect is what, for some reason, thrives in the contemporary social atmosphere.

Then we are assured by Sartre that owing to the final disappearance of God our liberty is absolute! At this the entire audience waves its hat or claps its hands. But this natural enthusiasm is turned abruptly into something much less buoyant when it is learnt that this liberty weighs us down immediately with tremendous responsibilities. We now have to take all God’s worries on our shoulders -- now that we are become “men like gods.” It is at this point that the Anxiety and Despondency begin, ending in utter despair.

If the world would only build temples to Machinery in the abstract then everything would be perfect. The painter and sculptor would have plenty to do, and could, in complete peace and suitably honoured, pursue their trade without further trouble.

It is more comfortable for me, in the long run, to be rude than polite.

The male has been persuaded to assume a certain onerous and disagreeable rôle with the promise of rewards -- material and psychological. Women may in the first place even have put it into his head. BE A MAN! may have been, metaphorically, what Eve uttered at the critical moment in the garden of Eden.

Men were only made into “men” with great difficulty even in primitive society: the male is not naturally “a man” any more than the woman. He has to be propped up into that position with some ingenuity, and is always likely to collapse.

What every artist should try to prevent is the car, in which is our civilized life, plunging over the side of the precipice -- the exhibitionist extremist promoter driving the whole bag of tricks into a nihilistic nothingness or zero.

All orthodox opinion -- that is, today, “revolutionary” opinion either of the pure or the impure variety -- is anti-man.

If you do not regard feminism with an uplifting sense of the gloriousness of woman’s industrial destiny, or in the way, in short, that it is prescribed, by the rules of the political publicist, that you should, that will be interpreted by your opponents as an attack on woman.

Almost anything that can be praised or advocated has been put to some disgusting use. There is no principle, however immaculate, that has not had its compromising manipulator.

So-called “austerity,” the stoic injunction, is the path towards universal destruction. It is the old, the fatal, competitive path. “Pull in your belt” is a slogan closely related to “gird up your loins,” or the guns-butter metaphor.

“Revolution” today is taken for granted, and in consequence becomes rather dull.

Revolutionary politics, revolutionary art, and oh, the revolutionary mind, is the dullest thing on earth. When we open a “revolutionary” review, or read a “revolutionary” speech, we yawn our heads off. It is true, there is nothing else. Everything is correctly, monotonously, dishearteningly “revolutionary.” What a stupid word! What a stale fuss!

When we say “science” we can either mean any manipulation of the inventive and organizing power of the human intellect: or we can mean such an extremely different thing as the religion of science, the vulgarized derivative from this pure activity manipulated by a sort of priestcraft into a great religious and political weapon.

The puritanical potentialities of science have never been forecast. If it evolves a body of organized rites, and is established as a religion, hierarchically organized, things more than anything else will be done in the name of “decency.” The coarse fumes of tobacco and liquors, the consequent tainting of the breath and staining of white fingers and teeth, which is so offensive to many women, will be the first things attended to.

Spain is an overflow of sombreness . . . a strong and threatening tide of history meets you at the frontier.

I feel most at home in the United States, not because it is intrinsically a more interesting country, but because no one really belongs there any more than I do. We are all there together in its wholly excellent vacuum.

No American worth his salt should go around looking for a root. I advance this in all modesty, as a not unreasonable opinion.

A hundred things are done today in the divine name of Youth, that if they showed their true colours would be seen by rights to belong rather to old age.



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