Francis Bacon on art and society


FB Well, I have often manipulated things so that they
should come to my rescue. 1 think I’m one of those people
who have a gift for always getting by somehow. Even if it’s a
case of stealing or something like that, I don’t feel any moral
thing against it. I suppose that’s an extremely egocentric
attitude. It would be a nuisance to be caught and put in
prison, but I don’t have any feeling about stealing. Now that
I earn money, it would be a kind of stupid luxury to go out
and steal. But when I had no money, I think I often used to
take what I could get.

DS I have the impression that following one’s impulses and
accepting the consequences and ignoring security isn’t just
the way you yourself behave; it’s also a prejudice that
governs your view of society. I mean that you talk as if the
concept of the welfare state, with its guarantee of certain
kinds of security, seems to you a sort of perversion of life.

FB Well, I think that being nursed by the state from the
cradle to the grave would bring such a boredom to life. But
in saying that, it may be something to do with that have
never had the morality of poverty. And therefore I can’t
think of anything more boring than that everything was
looked after for you from your birth to your death. But
people seem to expect that and think it is their right. I think
that, if people have that attitude to life, it curtails – I believe
this, I cannot prove it – the creative instinct. It would be
difficult to understand why. But I never believe one should
have any security and never expect to keep any. (more…)


Against Acceleration: Wyndham Lewis vs The Futurists


From Blasting and Bombardiering (1937)

Meanwhile the excitement was intense. Putsches took place every month or so. Marinetti for instance. You may have heard of him! It was he who put Mussolini up to Fascism. Mussolini admits it. They ran neck and neck for a bit, but Mussolini was the better politician. Well, Marinetti brought off a Futurist Putsch about this time.

It started in Bond Street. I counter-putsched. I assembled in Greek Street a determined band of miscellaneous anti-futurists. Mr. Epstein was there; Gaudier Brzeska, T. E. Hulme, Edward Wadsworth and a cousin of his called Wallace, who was very muscular and forcible, according to my eminent colleague, and he rolled up very silent and grim. There were about ten of us. After a hearty meal we shuffled bellicosely round to the Dore Gallery.

Marinetti had entrenched himself upon a high lecture platform, and he put down a tremendous barrage in French as we entered. Gaudier went into action at once. He was very good at the parlez-vous, in fact he was a Frenchman. He was sniping him without intermission, standing up in his place in the audience all the while. The remainder of our party maintained a confused uproar. (more…)

Notes: On the rudiments of culture III


RenĂ© Girard on the ‘anticulture we call modern’ (from Violence and the Sacred [1972]).

If the history of modern society is marked by the dissolution of differences, that clearly has something to do with the sacrificial crisis to which we have repeatedly referred. Indeed, the phrase “modern world” seems almost like a synonym for “sacrificial crisis.” It should be noted, however, that the modern world manages to retain its balance, precarious though it may be; and the methods it employs to do so, though extreme, are not so extreme as to destroy the fabric of the society’. As my previous chapters indicated, primitive societies are unable to withstand such pressures; violence would quickly get out of hand and trigger the mechanism of generative unanimity, thus restoring a social system based on multiple and sharply pronounced differences. In the modern Western world nothing of this kind takes place. The wearing away of differences proceeds at a slow but steady pace, and the results are absorbed more or less gracefully by a community that is slowly but steadily coming to encompass the entire globe.