Lessons from Romanticism: The Tragic Hero in an Age of Betrayal (Magazine Excerpt)
We live in an age of lost souls. Most do not recognise this consciously, nor would they wish to, yet wastelands abound subconsciously and emotionally. With that said, are many of us truly living? I cannot answer that question with complete confidence. What meaning is there to be found from a mass of emotional wrecks tucked safely away in their boxes, their lives mostly spent on screens and engaged solely in consumption to fill the void where one’s mind might just be lent the space to construct a human being? God forbid one person develops any attachment to another, for following such a world-ending eventuality the world might begin!
It may seem this situation of inner vapidity and misery is unique in the history of mankind, in large part due to the role of the internet in accelerating a constellation of societal problems. However, in tracing a lineage to the start of what is conventionally considered modernity we find another reaction against a soulless world in Romanticism. The Romantics fought the beginnings of the far more advanced creature that publications like this one react to now, hence the betrayal of their world holds lessons for the ongoing ruination of ours.
We must begin with the imagination, that most playful and frenetic component of the mind. It defies all reason and all rationality in being more attuned to one’s emotions, however deep-seated, than the rules dictating one’s circumstances in reality. Romantic introspection does not occur for the sake of modern obsessions of self-improvement, but for the inner activity of spiritually hungry souls to then be cast upon the world as art. The imagination also serves as an invitation to the infinite, an escape towards higher forms from one’s limitations. This is crucial to understanding every facet of Romanticism, as well as the lessons it might hold for the present. The movement emerged as a reaction to the nascent Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, both of which certainly sought to dampen the power of irrationality over the world. Instead of contemporary fashions of reason or empirical sensation, intense emotion controlled these artists’ outpourings onto canvas or page. Their works were not just about love, as the movement’s name implies, but the whole range of human emotions, since that is what the imagination can draw upon.
This is an excerpt from “Ides”. To continue reading, visit The Mallard’s Shopify.
Wyndham Lewis and The Tyro (Magazine Excerpt)
A Tyro, defined by Lewis, is ‘an elementary person; an Elemental, in short.’ This was descriptive of his view of the artist in a post-war world, a being even more primitive and vital than the avant-garde mercenaries of Blast. The illustrations of Tyros provided by Lewis are haunting apparitions, truly wanderers of the shadow he saw cast over the world. In black and white, they dominate the pages on which they appear with absolution, and in turn an unwavering devilish grin dominates them. The near abstraction of many Vorticist works is superseded once again by representation, but this makes the Tyros’ presence all the more convincing. First there is the Cept, on the cover of the first issue of The Tyro, drawing the eyes of the reader to its piercing stare and eternal laugh. It rests halfway between a North American totem pole and Lewis’s self-depiction as a Tyro, and there it revels. Next arrives the stout Brombroosh, facing to the left but with one eye still watching ahead. Lewis does not declare this entity a Tyro, but it is not far off. Behind its teeth, it mocks you with words you will never hear. Lastly, the Tyros Mr. Segando and Phillip in conversation. These two are parodies of sentimentalism in contemporary art and the broader aesthetic stagnation which Lewis had failed to overturn before the Great War. ‘These partly religious explosions of laughing Elementals are at once satires, pictures, and stories’ according to Lewis, so the baffling short story Mr. Segando in the Fifth Cataclysm by John Rodker accompanies the Tyro on the next page.
In surveying the Tyros, much of the first issue of The Tyro has been covered, but the journal was not Lewis’s latest artistic fascination alone. Without Pound, T.S. Eliot became the other central figure of this project, having previously been published by Lewis in the second issue of Blast. Vorticists dominated the graphical submissions in both issues: William Roberts, David Bomberg, Jessica Dismorr, Edward Wadsworth, Frederick Etchells and Lewis himself. The written side of the journals saw notable output from a few new figures: the novelist Sidney Schiff, who financed the endeavour and published under his pseudonym Stephen Hudson, the aforementioned Rodker, Herbert Read and Robert McAlmon. Rodker and McAlmon both ran small presses, whereas Read was a poet and art critic.
The design of The Tyro reflected a general attenuation away from the purposeful outrage of Blast. Sans-serif was now reserved to the cover, leading to a more conventional appearance in the interior pages. There was no bold opening manifesto either; the age of that in art had passed. Tyros as a centrepiece were impressive on the cover but otherwise an uncertain and experimental installation in the context of their calmer and often un-satirical surroundings. For the first issue, this was salvaged by the fact it was released alongside Lewis’s exhibition Tyros and Portraits in April 1921. The subtitle of both issues, A Review of the Arts of Painting [,] Sculpture and Design, was less sympathetic to Tyros’ idiosyncrasy.
This is an excerpt from “Blast!”. To continue reading, visit The Mallard’s Shopify.