Technology. Advancement. Violence. Change. These words I associate closely to the Futurist movement of the 20th century. They were aggressive and relished destruction, doing so in a uninhibited and with no discernible purpose.Filippo Marinetti’s manifesto of the Futurists states that “We will glorify war —the world’s only hygiene”. Published in the 1909, it seemed to ask for the large scale bloodshed of the Great War. The events of the war, along with Filippo Marinetti’s personal involvement in the war had no change on this seemingly naive opinion. War purposed to celebrate the development of machines and technology as well as a method of cultural progression. The Great War set a previously unseen scale for the size of impact man and machines was able to have on each other and the environment, one that’s legacy is intertwined with the Anthropocene.
The words I started this post with seem analogous with the Anthropocene. We have dominated nature through technology, something that the futurists celebrated but something that we have now began to see the consequences of. Are we still living with the futurist mentality? We are becoming more and more detached from the natural, obsessed with the progression. I want to address if our relationship to the Anthropocene is still the anarchistic destruction that the futurists manifested.
When the futurists predicted and then saw the events of the Great War, they still supported their view of the “hygiene” it would bring. Would they view the Anthropocene in a similar manner? The want for “man” to dominate nature is clear in this quote from the Manifesto of Futurism:
“We want to hymn the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit across the Earth, along the circle of its orbit.”
I had a conversation with Professor Silvia Rizzo about the similarities between the futurist movement’s view of nature and our modern perspective. I wanted to argue that the futurist mentality had extended to the modern age, manifesting that we dominate nature more and more as we make our footprint on the Anthropocene. However, Prof. Rizzo insisted that there’s a subtlety between the two that separates the futurists from modern ecological damage. The reason the futurists were destroying and dominating nature was a way to get rid of the old and to cause a cultural shock that would bring society into the modern era. This separates it from the money and growth driven reason we’ve seen our environment decay.