As early as 1914, Canadian Vorticist Wyndham Lewis wrote: “Men have a loathsome deformity called self; affliction got through discriminate rubbing against their fellows: social excrescence. Their being regulated by exigencies of this affliction. Only one operation can cure it: the suicide’s knife.” (The Enemy of the Stars). To react to such a numbness-inducing form of corporatism – for which new media were deemed to be in part responsible –, the artist becomes the enemy of all accepted ideas; he becomes a self-displaced human being, a permanent ‘transient’ who counter-attacks kulchur through harsh satire. Marshall McLuhan and Sheila Watson were Canadian artists who explored ways to counterblast kulchur. The artist, McLuhan wrote, is the man (and the woman) “in any field, scientific or humanistic” of integral awareness, capable to grasp “the implications of his [her] actions and of new knowledge in his own time” (Understanding Media, 1964). Consistently, both McLuhan and Watson dedicated their ‘artistic lives’ to explore ways to respond to ‘the mental vacuum, that is Canada’ (McLuhan, Letters). Wyndham Lewis stood as a common intellectual ground, offering insights into both the avant-garde and the media world. This paper explores how McLuhan and Watson came to elaborate their own ‘poetics’, by poetic assuming here Umberto Eco’s definition in La definizione dell’arte (The Definition of Art, 1990): it is the operative project which pervades a specific work and that leads to a given form, at once original and traditional, that is linked to other pre-existing forms. While sharing the operative project, McLuhan and Watson elaborated their own original forms, in turn inscribed in the tradition of the liberal arts and of Modernist explorations. Through their different achievements, as well as through their troubled popularity, McLuhan and Watson proved that literature is not a ‘subject’ but ‘a function inseparable from communal existence” (McLuhan, Letters).

Watson, McLuhan (& Lewis): Conscious (Modernist) Solitudes, Challenging Canadians

LAMBERTI, ELENA
2016

Abstract

As early as 1914, Canadian Vorticist Wyndham Lewis wrote: “Men have a loathsome deformity called self; affliction got through discriminate rubbing against their fellows: social excrescence. Their being regulated by exigencies of this affliction. Only one operation can cure it: the suicide’s knife.” (The Enemy of the Stars). To react to such a numbness-inducing form of corporatism – for which new media were deemed to be in part responsible –, the artist becomes the enemy of all accepted ideas; he becomes a self-displaced human being, a permanent ‘transient’ who counter-attacks kulchur through harsh satire. Marshall McLuhan and Sheila Watson were Canadian artists who explored ways to counterblast kulchur. The artist, McLuhan wrote, is the man (and the woman) “in any field, scientific or humanistic” of integral awareness, capable to grasp “the implications of his [her] actions and of new knowledge in his own time” (Understanding Media, 1964). Consistently, both McLuhan and Watson dedicated their ‘artistic lives’ to explore ways to respond to ‘the mental vacuum, that is Canada’ (McLuhan, Letters). Wyndham Lewis stood as a common intellectual ground, offering insights into both the avant-garde and the media world. This paper explores how McLuhan and Watson came to elaborate their own ‘poetics’, by poetic assuming here Umberto Eco’s definition in La definizione dell’arte (The Definition of Art, 1990): it is the operative project which pervades a specific work and that leads to a given form, at once original and traditional, that is linked to other pre-existing forms. While sharing the operative project, McLuhan and Watson elaborated their own original forms, in turn inscribed in the tradition of the liberal arts and of Modernist explorations. Through their different achievements, as well as through their troubled popularity, McLuhan and Watson proved that literature is not a ‘subject’ but ‘a function inseparable from communal existence” (McLuhan, Letters).
2016
Counterblasting Canada: Marshall McLuhan, Wyndham Lewis, Wilfred Watson and Sheila Watson
38
57
Lamberti, Elena
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/569640
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