Essay for Modern European History

Paper Topic: Identify key traits of Modernity (such as political, social, economic, artistic, scientific) substantiated through examples of how Modernity has been evinced in European history. On the basis of these traits, why has Modernity “failed”? Or why has Modernity partially failed? Or why is Modernity resilient as every? Does Post-Modernity offer a viable way out if indeed Modernity has failed- what potential benefits or problems does it present? instructions: 3 page essay response based on evidence from 4 course primary source readings (author, pg #). Make sure to introduce the article/ author. Times New Roman 12pt font, double spaced. Grade based on argument (clear thesis throughout essay), evidence, organization (solid intro, topic sentence, flow) and style (grammar/ citation). Don’t necessarily have to answer all the questions but make sure to have a clear thesis and clear argument.


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F. T. Marinetti,
The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism, 1909
We have been up all night, my friends and I, beneath mosque lamps whose brass cupolas are
bright as our souls, because like them they were illuminated by the internal glow of electric
hearts. And trampling underfoot our native sloth on opulent Persian carpets, we have been
discussing right up to the limits of logic and scrawling the paper with demented writing.
Our hearts were filled with an immense pride at feeling ourselves standing quite alone,
like lighthouses or like the sentinels in an outpost, facing the army of enemy stars encamped in
their celestial bivouacs. Alone with the engineers in the infernal stokeholes of great ships, alone
with the black spirits which rage in the belly of rogue locomotives, alone with the drunkards
beating their wings against the walls.
Then we were suddenly distracted by the rumbling of huge double-decker trams that went
leaping by, streaked with light like the villages celebrating their festivals, which the Po in flood
suddenly knocks down and uproots, and, in the rapids and eddies of a deluge, drags down to the
Then the silence increased. As we listened to the last faint prayer of the old canal and the
crumbling of the bones of the moribund palaces with their green growth of beard, suddenly the
hungry automobiles roared beneath our windows.
“Come, my friends!” I said. “Let us go! At last Mythology and the mystic cult of the
ideal have been left behind. We are going to be present at the birth of the centaur and we shall
soon see the first angels fly! We must break down the gates of life to test the bolts and the
padlocks! Let us go! Here is they very first sunrise on earth! Nothing equals the splendor of its
red sword which strikes for the first time in our millennial darkness.”
We went up to the three snorting machines to caress their breasts. I lay along mine like a
corpse on its bier, but I suddenly revived again beneath the steering wheel—a guillotine knife—
which threatened my stomach. A great sweep of madness brought us sharply back to ourselves
and drove us through the streets, steep and deep, like dried up torrents. Here and there unhappy
lamps in the windows taught us to despise our mathematical eyes. “Smell,” I exclaimed, “smell
is good enough for wild beasts!”
And we hunted, like young lions, death with its black fur dappled with pale crosses, who
ran before us in the vast violet sky, palpable and living.
And yet we had no ideal Mistress stretching her form up to the clouds, nor yet a cruel
Queen to whom to offer our corpses twisted into the shape of Byzantine rings! No reason to die
unless it is the desire to be rid of the too great weight of our courage!
We drove on, crushing beneath our burning wheels, like shirt-collars under the iron, the
watch dogs on the steps of the houses.
Death, tamed, went in front of me at each corner offering me his hand nicely, and
sometimes lay on the ground with a noise of creaking jaws giving me velvet glances from the
bottom of puddles.
“Let us leave good sense behind like a hideous husk and let us hurl ourselves, like fruit
spiced with pride, into the immense mouth and breast of the world! Let us feed the unknown, not
from despair, but simply to enrich the unfathomable reservoirs of the Absurd!”
As soon as I had said these words, I turned sharply back on my tracks with the mad
intoxication of puppies biting their tails, and suddenly there were two cyclists disapproving of
me and tottering in front of me like two persuasive but contradictory reasons. Their stupid
Marinetti, Founding and Manifesto of Futurism (1909)
swaying got in my way. What a bore! Pouah! I stopped short, and in disgust hurled myself—
vlan!—head over heels in a ditch.
Oh, maternal ditch, half full of muddy water! A factory gutter! I savored a mouthful of
strengthening muck which recalled the black teat of my Sudanese nurse!
As I raised my body, mud-spattered and smelly, I felt the red hot poker of joy deliciously
pierce my heart. A crowd of fishermen and gouty naturalists crowded terrified around this
marvel. With patient and tentative care they raised high enormous grappling irons to fish up my
car, like a vast shark that had run aground. It rose slowly leaving in the ditch, like scales, its
heavy coachwork of good sense and its upholstery of comfort.
We thought it was dead, my good shark, but I woke it with a single caress of its powerful
back, and it was revived running as fast as it could on its fins.
Then with my face covered in good factory mud, covered with metal scratches, useless
sweat and celestial grime, amidst the complaint of staid fishermen and angry naturalists, we
dictated our first will and testament to all the living men on earth.
1. We want to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and rashness.
2. The essential elements of our poetry will be courage, audacity and revolt.
3. Literature has up to now magnified pensive immobility, ecstasy and slumber. We want to
exalt movements of aggression, feverish sleeplessness, the double march, the perilous leap, the
slap and the blow with the fist.
4. We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of
speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive
breath … a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the
Victory of Samothrace.
5. We want to sing the man at the wheel, the ideal axis of which crosses the earth, itself hurled
along its orbit.
6. The poet must spend himself with warmth, glamour and prodigality to increase the
enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.
7. Beauty exists only in struggle. There is no masterpiece that has not an aggressive character.
Poetry must be a violent assault on the forces of the unknown, to force them to bow before man.
8. We are on the extreme promontory of the centuries! What is the use of looking behind at the
moment when we must open the mysterious shutters of the impossible? Time and Space died
yesterday. We are already living in the absolute, since we have already created eternal,
omnipresent speed.
9. We want to glorify war – the only cure for the world – militarism, patriotism, the destructive
gesture of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas which kill, and contempt for woman.
10. We want to demolish museums and libraries, fight morality, feminism and all opportunist
and utilitarian cowardice.
11. We will sing of the great crowds agitated by work, pleasure and revolt; the multi-colored
and polyphonic surf of revolutions in modern capitals: the nocturnal vibration of the arsenals and
the workshops beneath their violent electric moons: the gluttonous railway stations devouring
smoking serpents; factories suspended from the clouds by the thread of their smoke; bridges with
the leap of gymnasts flung across the diabolic cutlery of sunny rivers: adventurous steamers
sniffing the horizon; great-breasted locomotives, puffing on the rails like enormous steel horses
Marinetti, Founding and Manifesto of Futurism (1909)
with long tubes for bridle, and the gliding flight of aeroplanes whose propeller sounds like the
flapping of a flag and the applause of enthusiastic crowds.
It is in Italy that we are issuing this manifesto of ruinous and incendiary violence, by
which we today are founding Futurism, because we want to deliver Italy from its gangrene of
professors, archaeologists, tourist guides and antiquaries.
Italy has been too long the great second-hand market. We want to get rid of the
innumerable museums which cover it with innumerable cemeteries.
Museums, cemeteries! Truly identical in their sinister juxtaposition of bodies that do not
know each other. Public dormitories where you sleep side by side for ever with beings you hate
or do not know. Reciprocal ferocity of the painters and sculptors who murder each other in the
same museum with blows of line and color. To make a visit once a year, as one goes to see the
graves of our dead once a year, that we could allow! We can even imagine placing flowers once
a year at the feet of the Gioconda! But to take our sadness, our fragile courage and our anxiety to
the museum every day, that we cannot admit! Do you want to poison yourselves? Do you want to
What can you find in an old picture except the painful contortions of the artist trying to
break uncrossable barriers which obstruct the full expression of his dream?
To admire an old picture is to pour our sensibility into a funeral urn instead of casting it
forward with violent spurts of creation and action. Do you want to waste the best part of your
strength in a useless admiration of the past, from which you will emerge exhausted, diminished,
trampled on?
Indeed daily visits to museums, libraries and academies (those cemeteries of wasted
effort, calvaries of crucified dreams, registers of false starts!) is for artists what prolonged
supervision by the parents is for intelligent young men, drunk with their own talent and ambition.
For the dying, for invalids and for prisoners it may be all right. It is, perhaps, some sort of
balm for their wounds, the admirable past, at a moment when the future is denied them. But we
will have none of it, we, the young, strong and living Futurists!
Let the good incendiaries with charred fingers come! Here they are! Heap up the fire to
the shelves of the libraries! Divert the canals to flood the cellars of the museums! Let the
glorious canvases swim ashore! Take the picks and hammers! Undermine the foundation of
venerable towns!
The oldest among us are not yet thirty years old: we have therefore at least ten years to
accomplish our task. When we are forty let younger and stronger men than we throw us in the
waste paper basket like useless manuscripts! They will come against us from afar, leaping on the
light cadence of their first poems, clutching the air with their predatory fingers and sniffing at the
gates of the academies the good scent of our decaying spirits, already promised to the catacombs
of the libraries.
But we shall not be there. They will find us at last one winter’s night in the depths of the
country in a sad hangar echoing with the notes of the monotonous rain, crouched near our
trembling aeroplanes, warming our hands at the wretched fire which our books of today will
make when they flame gaily beneath the glittering flight of their pictures.
They will crowd around us, panting with anguish and disappointment, and exasperated by
our proud indefatigable courage, will hurl themselves forward to kill us, with all the more hatred
as their hearts will be drunk with love and admiration for us. And strong healthy Injustice will
shine radiantly from their eyes. For art can only be violence, cruelty, injustice.
Marinetti, Founding and Manifesto of Futurism (1909)
The oldest among us are not yet thirty, and yet we have already wasted treasures,
treasures of strength, love, courage and keen will, hastily, deliriously, without thinking, with all
our might, till we are out of breath.
Look at us! We are not out of breath, our hearts are not in the least tired. For they are
nourished by fire, hatred and speed! Does this surprise you? it is because you do not even
remember being alive! Standing on the world’s summit, we launch once more our challenge to
the stars!
Your objections? All right! I know them! Of course! We know just what our beautiful
false intelligence affirms: `We are only the sum and the prolongation of our ancestors,’ it says.
Perhaps! All right! What does it matter? But we will not listen! Take care not to repeat those
infamous words! Instead, lift up your head!
Standing on the world’s summit we launch once again our insolent challenge to the stars!
The “Fundamental Ideas” of Fascism
Benito Mussolini
Like all sound political conceptions, Fascism is action and it is thought; action in which
doctrine is imminent, and doctrine arising from a given system of historical forces in
which it is inserted, and working on them from within. It has therefore a form correlated
to contingencies of time and space; but it has also an ideal content which makes it an
expression of truth in the higher region of the history of thought. … To know men one
must know man; and to know man one must be acquainted with reality and its laws.
There can be no conception of the State which is not fundamentally a conception of life:
philosophy or intuition, system of ideas evolving within the framework of logic or
concentrated in a vision or a faith, but always, at least potentially, an organic conception
of the world.
Thus many of the practical expressions of Fascism–such as party organisation, system of
education, discipline–can only be understood when considered in relation to its general
attitude toward life. … A spiritual attitude. Fascism sees in the world not only those
superficial, material aspects in which man appears as an individual, standing by himself,
self-centered, subject to natural law which instinctively urges him toward a life of selfish
momentary pleasure; it sees not only the individual but the nation and the country;
individuals and generations bound together by a moral law, with common traditions and a
mission which suppressing the instinct for life closed in a brief circle of pleasure, builds
up a higher life, founded on duty, a life free from the limitations of time and space, in
which the individual, by self-sacrifice, the renunciation of self-interest, by death itself, can
achieve that purely spiritual existence in which his value as a man consists.
The conception is therefore a spiritual one, arising from the general reaction of the
century against the placid materialistic positivism of the XIXth century. …
In the Fascist conception of history, man is man only by virtue of the spiritual process to
which he contributes as a member of the family, the social group, the nation, and in
function of history to which all nations bring their contribution. … Outside history man is
a nonentity. Fascism is therefore opposed to all individualistic abstractions based on
eighteenth century materialism; and it is opposed to all Jacobinistic utopias and
innovations. …
Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and
accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State, which
stands for the conscience and the universal will of man as a historic entity. It is opposed
to classical liberalism which arose as a reaction to absolutism and exhausted its historical
function when the State became the expression of the conscience and will of the people.
Liberalism denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of
the State as expressing the real essence of the individual. And if liberty is to be the
attribute of living men and not of abstract dummies invented by individualistic liberalism,
then Fascism stands for liberty, and for the only liberty worth having, the liberty of the
State and of the individual within the State. The Fascist conception of the State is
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all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value.
Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State–a synthesis and a unit
inclusive of all values–interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people. …
Printed from Houghton Mifflin Company’s History Companion
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