Futurists without a future

Via Arts and Letters Daily, an introduction into Futurist Cuisine by Ayun Halliday. The culinary-minded Futurists in question were Italian, not Russian: they attacked pasta and wished it replaced with meat. Bread against meat is an ancient dichotomy. My interest in the Futurist Cuisine is linguistic – look at this headline in La Cucina Italiana (January 1931):

La vibrante ed elevata polemica sulla pasta asciutta.

Vibrante suspiciously resembles vibrant, an English word that was relatively sparsely used until about 1980 but has been overexploited in this century. In the context above, vibrante seems to mean “lively,” “excited,” “animated” – vibrating with energy perhaps – pretty similar to the English word as used today. “Resonant” is another possible meaning.

The lively and lofty dispute over dried pasta.

Or “dry pasta,” perhaps – meaning the pasta as most of us know it, cooked in boiled water and drained as opposed to cooked and eaten in broth (in brodo).

Under that headline, Paolo Buzzi offered “the judgment of a poet” and a “eulogy to rice.” Seventeen years earlier, in 1914, D.H. Lawrence had written to Arthur MacLeod:

I have been interested in the futurists. I got a book of their poetry – a very fat book too – and [a] book of pictures – and I read Marinetti’s and Paolo Buzzi’s s mani­festations and essays and Soffici’s essays on cubism and futurism…

They are very young, college-student and medical-student at his most blatant. But I like them. Only I don’t believe in them. I agree with them about the weary sickness of pedantry and tradition and inertness, but I don’t agree with them as to the cure and the escape.

Buzzi was forty years old in 1914, when Lawrence read his “manifestations,” and 38 when they were published (assuming the book in question was I Poeti Futuristi). At 38, still a “college student… at his most blatant.” At the time of the “vibrant” pasta discussion, Buzzi was already past 55.

In January 1931, when Buzzi was eloquently eulogizing rice, D. H. Lawrence had been dead for ten months, dead at 44. Back in 1924, when D. H. concluded that fascism had “degenerated into a mere worship of Force,” he was about the same age as Buzzi had been at the time of I Poeti Futuristi.

Perhaps people grow up fast knowing they don’t have a long life ahead – Chekhov (who also died at 44) was only 29 when he wrote a story about a terminally ill 62-year-old professor of medicine. Or, perhaps, the Italian Futurists presented cases of arrested development. Aging Futurists without much of a future cosplaying the young and vibrant.

On the other hand, there were potential benefits and no risks to being a pro-rice, anti-pasta Fascist around 1930.

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