Excerpts from Karel Teige’s “Poetism Manifesto” (1928)

Translated by Gerald Turner.  From Between Two Worlds:

A Sourcebook of Central European Avant-Gardes,

1910-1930.  (The MIT Press.  Cambridge, MA: 2002).

• • •

At the very moment when the last glimmers of the “-isms” — Dadaism, Futurism, Expressionism, Cubism, Suprematism — were fading, at a time when somber chaos and dismal stagnation held sway in all studios and studies, amidst tasteless and excruciating eclecticism, blundering along lost paths and blind alleys, in Prague, whose gates we wanted to throw open to all the healthy breezes of the world and the gulf streams of worldwide creative activity, at latitude 50 degrees north and longitude 14 degrees east, in the years 1923 and 1924, i.e.four to five years ago, Poetism was proclaimed. Poetism was proclaimed not in order to supersede some other -ism of art, literature, painting or music, or to oppose or compete with some other -ism.  In proclaiming Poetism we simply wanted to express and formulate an opinion and fix a course; we were seeking neither to establish a new -ism for avant-garde studios, exhibitions and schools, nor to found a movement or school.  Poetism was more a proclamation of “a new era in the history of the human soul,” a way out of dismal aesthetic and philosophical confusion, disorientation and disharmony.  Poetism was conceived as a new aesthetic and philosophical attitude, a creed for the end of the millennium; the fact that it is has become in addition a school and a poetics, was not the intention or fault of the authors responsible.  Poetism as an art -ism and a school has gone the way of all -isms and schools: it has found its own artists and epigones; it has seen a number of superficial fashions; it has been torn to pieces and extolled by the critics, who one day ring its death knell and the next day hail its re-emergence.  This Poetism as a movement and a school is nothing but a derivative — and in places a very damaged one — of Poetism as an attitude and aesthetic prognosis.  We will not dwell here on Poetism as a school and an -ism because they are outside our own field of interest in Poetism as a new aesthetic and philosophy.

[…]

Poetism as an aesthetic prognosis and a philosophy of creation as based on a number of proven and recognized laws and historical facts.  Dissatisfied with and unconvinced by the existing aesthetic concepts, and the general rules or mythologies of the studios, we posed afresh the question of art and poetry and are answering it, recapitulating the results of countless analyses of various phenomena from the recent era of developments in poetry and art.

Our predecessors opened a window on Europe.  Discovering modern civilization to be unequivocally international we decided it was time to abandon provincial and regional horizons and nationality.  We became estranged from the history of Czech literature and repudiated the heritage of Czech painting.  Besides, the legacy of local values offered us nothing of any worth for the present European moment.  (Except, perhaps for “…the image of all those white towns”…that splendid passage of pre-1848 poetry, [594] with its free and rhythmic stream of dreamlike images, embodied what we were seeking from poetry).

We integrated ourselves into the rhythm of collective European creation, the rhythm whose metronome — because of the social and cultural situation that arose in the 19th century and laid the basis for today’s creation — was Paris.  Paris was the focal point of not just French but also international production — its Metropolis and Babylon, the spiritual center of not just the French language and the Latin tradition.  It was a successor to Italy and predecessor of Moscow, just as, in history, spiritual hegemony shifts according to changes in first social and then cultural systems.  Now that national insularity and parochialism are on the wane, the many national and local literatures are giving way to a global literature (Karl Marx).  If we are to work for that international art to materialize, we must seize all the achievements and successes offered by the previous period of development.  Modernity, which we defined as an aggregate of present achievements and the present state of the developmental process, requires us to embrace and master the contribution made by the celebrated French creations of the immediate past in the fields of poetry, painting and aesthetics, which is and was the culmination of the spiritual and cultural life of this era of our civilization.

[…]

Contemporary civilization has done most to cultivate sight of all the senses, and photography and film have played a considerable role in attuning the visual sense and making it more flexible.  This has steered poetry onto an increasingly optical path.  A poem was once sung, now it is read.  In the pre-Gutenberg age, rhyme and rhythm, parallelisms and refrains served as technical aids.  By the time of Symbolism they were either abandoned (free verse) or had to acquire new (optical or acoustic) emotional functions.

With the development of book printing, the spoken language of living speech atrophied, lost its sonic timbre and became a system of graphic ciphers: typographically arranged poems are the outcome of that fact.  Marinetti, on the other hand, stresses the total anarchy of words and verbal art which, he maintains, should not be colonized by the optical order: he uses typographic free compositions only to illustrate acoustic values; bold type illustrates fortissimo, narrow type staccato, italic legato and faint type pianissimo.  The Futurists are continuing with phonetic poetry, replacing the Debussyesque music of the Symbolists with the noise of the industrial cities.  Marinetti actually trusts the proven heresy of onomatopoeia and in the case of Francesco Ganguilla this poetry culminates in poetry set to music, making use of words and a system of notation: Poesia pentagrammata.  It would be more consist to make phonograph recordings of such poetic songs rather than using the optical system of book printing and letters.  However “the stock of the auditory poets is falling with the slump in romantic contemplation” (Nezval).  Now that Nezval is versifying his Alphabet we stand on the threshold of a new pictorial poetry.  Whereas Rimbaud discovered the color values of vowels in their sound value, Nezval transposes the shapes of typographic signs into his poem; he makes poetry from the magic of their form.

• • •

By studying the historical development of modern poetry we have come to the following conclusions and perceptions:

That it is necessary above all to demand a poetry that is pure and not allow it to be used for any non-aesthetic purposes; that form must be developed in terms of its function and purpose, i.e.in the direction not of rational comprehensibility, but maximum emotionality, achieved by means of maximum physiological effectiveness.  Poetry, which in the Middle Ages made rhyme and verse of scholarly knowledge, only now, in the world of our civilization becomes a sovereign, pure, clean and absolute poesy, that neither has, nor can have, any other purpose than to satisfy people’s unbounded thirst for lyricism,

[594]

That poetry must be removed from the world of categories and concepts and opened up to the primal psychic sources, whose aesthetic potential is indicated by contemporary psychological and psychoanalytic discoveries;

That it is necessary (particularly in the case of Czech poetic language) to revise thelexical material by means of systematic experimentation, in order to transform words from being vehicles of conceptual content into an independent reality and direct generators of emotion.

That by investigating the correspondence and analogy between the data of individual senses and the qualitative unity of the aesthetic emotion thereby generated, we can open the gates to unlimited possibilities that must be used aesthetically.  That in this way the problem of poetry can be posed afresh and its mission may be redefined: poetry for the five senses, poetry for all the senses.  Poetism was an attempt to provide an answer to that problem: and that is the essence of Poetism as a new aesthetic.

By continuing with what was foreshadowed by Mallarmé and Apollinaire, we experimented with typographical montage of poems until we eventually came up with a new branch of pictorial poetry, a lyricism of image and reality, and then a new branch of film art: purely lyrical cinematography and dynamic pictorial poetry.  We achieved a fusion of poetry freed from literature and the image freed by cubism from representation, and the identification of the poet and the painter.  This identification brings the history of painting to an end, i.e. painting in the sense and in terms of the function it fulfilled in the Middle Ages.  Painting as a representational art is condemned to extinction.

• • •

We proclaimed the extinction of painting in its traditional sense, as we saw that contemporary painting, incapable of continuing powerfully along the trail blazed by Cubism, was caught in a vicious circle of semi-finished products, using uncivilized techniques and old-fashioned materials, and since it failed to understand its own nature, its emotional power was drying up as a consequence.

The history of the human mind, enlightened by psychoanalytical research, has shown us how people’s affective needs merged with their material and utilitarian needs, and how the gratification of the one led to the satisfaction of the others; how aesthetic activity first tended to serve a utilitarian function (cave paintings, medieval craftsmanship, folklore) and only later became autonomous.  Aesthetic activity and impressionability awaken, in the same way (as Freud has shown) as sexuality, in conjunction with the major vital and physical functions and work.

Painting came into existence as a representational service.  The entire history of painting is one of an emancipatory struggle for the freedom and autonomy of non-utilitarian aesthetic values which gradually emerged and gained strength as the craft evolved.  In the Middle Ages they were severely repressed by the church.  By an edict of the Council of Nicaea, the organization of a picture was a matter for the church as patron; artists were responsible only for the art (i.e. the execution of the work).  Fra Angelico painted the Madonna’s cloak blue not because he needed that color for a particular area of the picture’s composition, but because the Church’s rules laid down that the Madonna’s cloak had to be blue.  Painting conveyed the literary substance of legends and was required to use a priori the prescribed themes, emblems and compositional schemas; it was a Bible for the illiterate.  At the end of the Middle Ages in Renaissance mercantile Italy, art’s emancipatory strivings proliferated.  The first blow against art as a craft and monastic activity (l’art, l’artisanat) was linked with the changing social status of the artist (whereas previously painters were anonymous craftsmen, Charles V used to pick up Titian’s brush when it fell from the master’s right hand) and the invention of a new painting technique — oil painting, whereby pictures were no longer bound to architecture and were now freer, more graceful and intimate and no longer under the oversight of the church, whose universal power over the human spirit was already [596] undermined.  Michelangelo dared to clash openly with Pope Julius III [sic]. That conflict, recorded by Vasari, is historically conclusive: for the first time, a painter demanded a separate order for his works, distinct from the ecclesiastical order.  The eye triumphed over prayer.  The Dutch still-lives and miniature landscapes of the 17th century are a collection of paintings with indifferent and banal subject-matter; the subject-matter is less important than the composition of color and shapes: a beet is placed where the composition requires the color red, and a white table-cloth or plate where white is needed.  The subject is the vehicle of the color scheme.  Landscape painting and still-life, genres created in bourgeois Holland, become the vehicles for the further emancipation of painting in the French School of the bourgeois nineteenth century.  In the case of the Impressionists the subject and object are even less important.  It was a further triumph for sight and the poetry of color.  Under the pretext of a subject, the Impressionists painted bright, scintillating and blossoming colored mists, with homogeneous coloring and illumination.  The Cubists subsequently pushed the subject and its representation (the original utilitarian function of painting) to extremes and used forms devoid of any meaning in terms of subject; they painted shapes and colors for the emotional response their evoked in the viewer, for their aesthetic and emotional qualities, without any iconic import.  Those paintings are artificial optical and physical organisms, which arouse certain sensations in the viewer and arouse their emotions in accordance with the artist’s intentions through their physiology, senses and nervous system.  The quality of that emotion is the quality of the painting.

Hand in hand with that liberation of painting, whereby the picture has become a vehicle of purely optical, non-literary lyrical values, strides have been made in photography, cinematography, printing and new photochemigraphic methods have been developed that have taken over from painting its documentary, illustrative and imitative function.  Moreover, at a time when the ideal of painting as a sovereign and pure art realized by means of a system of specific forms, enormous admiration has been expressed for Negro sculpture — the three-dimensional poetry of tribes who have not been forced by history to subordinate their innate, human and animal poetry and playfulness to the needs of a practical, utilitarian and rationalist hunger over centuries of slave civilization.

In the Cubist era, Picasso declared the epoch of painting finished for good. — Now it was necessary to formulate the problem of the picture afresh. We took as the starting point of our analyses and experiments Cubism as a system of lines, colors and forms intended to stir the viewer’s emotion through the sense of sight.  We discovered within Cubism the historical moment when the aesthetic activity of sight is separated from practical (representational) activity in order to go its own way in future.

Basing ourselves on Cubism we defined the picture as a harmony of color, as a symphony or poem of color.  We identified color as the fundamental and constitutive element of painting, its mother tongue and lifeblood, its exclusive realizational medium.

So we defined the picture as a perfect system of color on a surface or in space (the statue!) or in space-time (film!) achieved using any technical means.  In our search for the laws of color harmony we discovered, by analyzing various schools of painting and works by individual artists that every system has its own laws about complementary colors and virtually its own spectrum, so the contradiction between (psychological) aesthetic laws on color relationships and the laws of color optics remains an unknown quantity in the theory of color in art.

Light — the factor that tells us about colors — has yet to be used directly in painting.  It has been expressed by pigment, both material and cloudy.  Wherever painting has tried to achieve greater luminosity than is possible with pigment, it has used reflective materials such as metals, gemstones, gilding: the stained glass windows of cathedrals were a first primitive attempt to work with the projection of colored light.  Modern technology [597] enables the projection by lamps of actual colored light, the interplay of spotlights, moving shapes, sequential dynamic symphonies of light and color that offer new scope for creation in color: the projection of moving pictures, freed from the rigidity of medieval handcraft techniques, born out of light — the photogenic poem.

After we departed from Cubism, which we regard as the barrier between old-world painting and modern creation with color, a barrier from which there is no going back to the atavistic representational approach, we eventually managed to transcend for good the traditional panel picture: it was superseded by the dynamically projected light picture (the interplay of spotlights, film, fireworks) and static photo- and typo-montage pictures produced serially in book form in thousands of copies; pictorial poetry — the photo- and typo-montage picture in book form identified with the poem and the colored, moving, rhythmical, time-space picture identified with music.

• • •

Having consigned to historians and conservators the job of caring for inherited and moribund branches of art — painting, literature and other arts and crafts — we strove to eliminate those degenerate and extinct areas of art that were appropriate for past societies and civilizations but are not relevant to our mechanical civilization and unacceptable for the modern nerves and psychic make-up of contemporary people, and replace them with that were more appropriate to the present day and present-day people.  So we were not seeking a renaissance but new creative fields, because new worlds, new disciplines, new reactions, the echoes of the subconscious and the imagination of the superconscious, infra-red and ultra-violet, uncharted territories and blank spaces on the aesthetic map attract us and are a spur to the creative experimentation: far removed from the previous artistic and aesthetic conventions, we tried to switch on a new art, a new poetry of color, sound, light, scent and movement — poetry for all the senses.

The era of our civilization is a phase in which the various different kinds and branches of art have rid themselves of the roles they played in history, an era in which aesthetic activity is breaking free of the utilitarianism of the crafts of the past and beginning to lead an autonomous existence, and in which these emancipated spheres of artistic activity are becoming closer to each other and combining, so that in future it will be impossible to separate them according to the categories of the former aesthetic systems; at a time when new scientific and technical achievements are giving rise to new aesthetic fields and genres, the idea of the correspondence and unity of artistic emotion has emerged.

[…]

It would seem that our analysis of hearing in color is revealing a profound universal law applicable to all sorts of other phenomena and forms of human thinking.  Psychological experiments have shown that impressions of smell, taste, touch, of skin, of physical pleasure and pain can also be transferred into optical pictures; that color can be attributed to numbers, to the days of the week, to vowels (Rimbaud) and other systems.  It has even been discovered that visual oneiric (dream) pictures can be aroused by means of auditory or tactile sensations, which again indicates a certain correspondence, as well as certain functional supplementarity and sensorial equivalence. Bergson notes that the sense of touch is above all in dreams an immanent tendency to self-visualization and creation of an optical dream picture.  This phenomenon of supplementarity is also common among visual pictures and touch and physical data, and locomotive senses.  It is interesting how psychotechnical experiments repeatedly confirm the pre-eminence of sight and the visual type among present-day human characteristics.  Acoustic notions are ten times scarcer than visual notions among present-day people.  Tactile notions are about as frequent as optical ones.  Notional images of taste, smell and movement have not yet been researched in depth. 

[598]

The aesthetic corollary of these physical and psychotechnical facts is a mutual correlation; the realization that the autonomy of artistic genres may not exceed certain limits and lead to total isolation.  On the contrary, these mutual ties between the individual arts, corresponding to sensorial equivalences are increasingly the focus of interest of contemporary aesthetic creation.  Impression links sight with the other organs in a new unity, above all with the so-called lower senses, which in consort with sight reveal the deepest mysteries of existence.  By its ability to move, sight comprises the functions of two senses: vision and touch; awareness of time and space.  It could be that movement is the basis for the inherency of all the sense organs.  Even though all the senses have their own energy, can’t you sense the wind in Monet’s painting, or the scent of the forest or the sea? The activity of sight is just as complex a process of life as thought and vision is a function that involves the entire person.  In each sense organ, the others play a part and provide our psyche with its specific data, and thus vision alone can bring the other senses into play and cause all the strings of the modern soul to vibrate.  The modern eye has been characterized as an organ in which all the senses reside; “sight that thinks and feels.”  An equally complex function is fulfilled by the ear, which, as we know, is not an exclusively acoustic organ, but one equipped overall to be a kind of seismic organ for registering vibrations and oscillations.

[…]

This opens up surprising and amazing prospects. If this total and universal poetry, this synthesis for all the senses, which was an unattainable absolute and distant utopia for past epochs, is to become a reality, it is necessary above all to define precisely its conditions, to refine and test out its means of expression and investigate its multifarious echoes in the viewer’s psyche.  In short it must be placed on a scientific footing.  We must go on rejecting the imperfect historical materials and techniques of the craft, create new tools and invent and create new means of expression, using for that purpose all the tools and achievements of contemporary science and technology.  One may indeed assume that the history of art and civilization is not simply a succession of styles and schools but that it represents real progress.  One may suppose that a person who has mastered the tools of his trade as well as Rembrandt is capable of producing works with much greater emotional potential than his, quite simply because present-day tools are a thousand times better.  We abandoned historical forms of painting and versification.  We abandoned the language of concepts and seized instead the language of reality.  We have demonstrated the possibility of poems without words, the possibility of making poems with material which is more reliable, constructive and scientifically verified: making poems of color, shape, light, movement, sound, scent, energy…

We have observed poetry’s gradual liberation from literature and hand in hand with that the trend of poetry towards optical expression until it fuses with painting in the pictorial poem. We have said that the optical aspect has demonstrated its superiority and greater energy; we noted that among our contemporaries there is an absolute predominance of visual types, probably due to the influence of specific features of present-day civilization, which has brought us the enormous culture of sight.  A key role in this has been played by photography and cinematography.

We have created pictorial poems: compositions of real colors and shapes within the system of the poem.  The animated pictorial poem: photogenic poetry.  Kinography. We have tried to formulate a proposal for a new art of film — pure cinematography, photogenic poetry, a dynamic picture without precedent.  Luminous and glittering poems of undulating light — we saw in them the leading art of our epoch: the magnificent synthetic time-space poem, exciting all the senses and all the sensitive areas of the viewer via sight.  We defined film as a dynamic pictorial poem, a living spectacle without plot or literature; black-and-white rhythms and possibly the rhythm of color too; a sort of [599] mechanical ballet of shapes and light that demonstrates its innate affinity with light shows, pure dance, the art of fireworks (and the art of gymnastics and acrobatics).  The art of movement, the art of time and space, the art of the live spectacle a new theater.

Hearing — the second of the senses to be considered aesthetic de facto and de jure — demonstrates in the contemporary psyche a lesser potential than the other so-called “inferior” non-aesthetic senses such as touch, smell, etc.  However, under the influence of radiotelephony, it looks as if it wilt be rehabilitated.  Yet radio at the present time is in the situation film was not long ago, serving solely for reproduction and transmission.  But our aim is to claim radiotelephony as a productive medium.  In the same manner that poems can be created by film out of light and movement, radiogenic poetry can be created as a new art of sound and noise, divorced equally from literature and recitation and from music.  We could achieve here more effectively and rationally what Russolo was striving for with his “intoners.  “ Poetism will invent a new radiogenic poetry, similar to photogenic pictorial poetry, whose auditorium will be cosmic space and whose audience will be the world’s masses.  Auditory, spaceless radiopoetry has wide and viable scope.  The radio dramas produced so far are auditory theater in much the same the way that many films are optically transmitted theater.  Just like pure kinography and photogenic poetry, radiophonic and radiogenic poems must make use of elementary media (in the former case light and movement, in the latter case sound and noise) and break free of literary and theatrical constraints.  Radiogenic poetry as a composition of sound and noise, recorded in reality but woven into a poetic synthesis has nothing in common with music or recitation or literature, nor yet with Verlainesque onomatopoeia.  It is also poetry without words and not a verbal art.  It bears virtually the same relationship to music as film does to painting.  Nezval’s first radio scenario “Mobilization” indicates the scope offered by this kind of radiophonic poetry.

By using the analogy of color and sound — as luminous music and orphic painting strove to do — the musical talking movie is coming into being.  It was first used to create horribly naturalistic operatic films.  Nonetheless this important technical invention can be used for new, undreamed of, totally non-naturalistic compositions.  Talking and musical film are based on the idea of using special equipment to convert sound into light and vice versa inasmuch as acoustic, optical and electrokinetic energy essentially differ in terms of frequency; thus acoustic, optical and electrical energy can be converted into each other.  This discovery can become the basis of a new optophonetic art. Let us divide the process of converting sound into light and light into sound into two separate processes.  We will use only the conversion of light into sound.  Light rays projected onto a cinema screen induce currents in the equipment and a special telephone converts it into sound.  The picture projected onto the screen evokes a sound in the equipment.  A square wilt obviously create a different sound than a triangle, so chords can be created by combining luminous geometrical shapes.  And vice versa: what shape and luminosity will be evoked by a specific set of sounds? Converting light into sound or alternatively sound into light — not in the reproductive manner of the musical film but a direct and autonomous optophonetic art (made possible by the new functionalities of the picture [light] and music [tone]) represents an extensive sphere that can give rise to unprecedented aesthetic emotions.

Poetism has advanced proposals for a new poetry, which wants to turn the universe into a poem using all the means made available to it by modern science and industry, a new poetry to capture the entire universe of the human spirit by stirring all the human senses.  The holy and healthy thirst of our modern senses and nerves, the hunger of our personae, the lust of our bodies and minds, life’s fire burning within us — élan vital, libido, or tropisme vital — cannot be sated with what was offered by the former art.  Our gaze yearns for other spectacles than those offered by the tedious paintings [600] of exhibitions and galleries; our touch wants to be cultivated and charmed by abundant sensations.  The previous music does not suit our hearing and possibly only the best cuisine in the world, that of France (which was not by chance the country with the liveliest civilization and culture] could satisfy our taste.  We seek a poetry that speaks to all the senses, one that saturates the viewer’s sensibility and beguiles and cheers their heart.  And we want this poetry to be based on the sensorial and physiological ABC, on the infinitesimal vibrations of senses and nerves, those “strings of the soul.  “ Poetism wants to speak to all the senses — albeit on occasions stressing the optical factor for evolutionary reasons — because it seeks to speak to the entire person within this modern culture of the balance of body and spirit.

In place of the old art categories that corresponded to the higher aesthetic senses (sight and hearing) and to people’s intellectual and practical needs, which are now better served by other activities and achievements, Poetism creates a poetry for all the senses.

A poetry for SIGHT or “liberated painting”: 1.  dynamic: kinography, fireworks, light shows and all sorts of live spectacles (= “liberated theater”), 2.  static: typo- and photomontage pictures, the new picture as a poem of color.

Poetry for HEARING: the music of loud noises, jazz, radiogenics.

Poetry for SMELL: Poetism plans for a new olfactory poetry, a symphony of smells.  Smells exercise a profound influence on our “inferior,” instinctive psyche: the smell of blood, dust, perfumes, flowers, the stench of animals, of petrol, of oil, medicines and drugs can exercise a powerful and amazing effect on our emotions.  Baudelaire still filtered clusters of smells into a system of poetical language.  We want smells to act directly like sounds and colors.  The language of smells is probably best known by lovers: gifts of flowers and perfumed love-letters are the first step toward olfactory poetry.  Moreover, gardeners were fully schooled in its ABC and its effect on the emotions and it was used in the liturgy of many religions.  So let’s make poems from smells as directly as me make them from color and sound!

Poetry for TASTE: If, in the case of certain individuals, we do no doubt the direct connection between their sight, sensibility and intrinsic nature, there is every reason to suppose that the great gourmands and gourmets of history — the cordon bleu gastronomes and the Pantagruelesque hedonists — are able to enjoy total communication between taste and soul; that, as Delteil once said, good digestion is as much a source of joie de vivre as a good prayer.  We are not talking about the poetry of intoxicating drinks and narcotics or alcoholic hallucinations that almost automatically give rise to lyrical tension.  The enjoyment of a good dîner is no less refined or aesthetic than any other whereas enjoyment is among the supreme human values, measured in terms of life’s objective: happiness.  We regret that culinary art is no longer taken as seriously as it was in medieval aesthetics and as it deserves.  Poetry for taste, culinary art (of which Apollinaire wrote in his “Poète assassiné”), apart from its intrinsic gustative values, is intended to affect the entire concert of the senses with its forms and colors and its many and varied aromas.

Poetry for TOUCH. This was discovered by Marinetti, who, in 1921, termed it tactilism. There was already a foretaste of it in Rachild’s “La Jongleuse” and “Les Hors-nature.” Although the plastic arts also use tactile elements, Marinetti’s poems of touch — “tactile pictures” — have nothing in common with painting or sculpture, their aim being to achieve tactile harmony.  In our civilization, our touch is trained to a high level of deftness but so far has not been aesthetically cultivated in terms of impressionability.  Whereas our visual sensations when looking at materials of different softness or coarseness often arouse in us associative tactile perceptions, merely touching them in the dark fails to arouse intense excitement within us.  Tactile poetry, composed of delicate, fine, coarse, warm or cold fabrics, silk, velour, brushes, slightly electrified [601] wires, etc., is capable of cultivating our tactile emotionality and providing us with the utmost sensual and spiritual thrills.

Poetry of INTERSENSORIAL EQUIVALENCES: optophonetic, “liberated theater,” colored lights and singing fountains.

Poetry of PHYSICAL AND SPATIAL SENSES: the sense of orientation, the sense of speed and the time-space sense of movement: sport of every possible kind: motoring, aviatics, tourism, gymnastics, acrobatics: our innate thirst for records is slaked by athletics; victory mania flares up at football matches along with the joy of collective teamwork and feeling of strained harmony, precision and co-ordination.  The poetry of sport, shining above the educational and orthopedic tendencies of physical exercise develops all the senses and provides a pure sensation of muscular activity, the delight of bare skin in the wind, beautiful physical exaltation and intoxication of the body.  Liberated dance, sovereign dynamic poetry of the body, independent of music, literature and sculpture, opening the gates of sensuality; the art of physical genius, the most physical and abstract art of all, whose medium is tangible flesh-and-blood physicality, whose movement gives rise to a poem of dance using dynamic and abstract forms.

Poetry of the COMIC SENSE: Grock, Fratellini, Keaton, Chaplin, etc.

[Originally published as “Manifest poetismu,” in ReD Vol. 1, No. 9 (1928)]

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~ by Ross Wolfe on October 21, 2010.

2 Responses to “Excerpts from Karel Teige’s “Poetism Manifesto” (1928)”

  1. […] https://modernistarchitecture.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/excerpts-from-karel-teige%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Cp… […]

  2. […] je vous conseille également ici sur wordpress toujours en anglais Excerpts from Karel Teige’s “Poetism Manifesto” (1928) Translated by Gerald Turner. From Between Two Worlds: A Sourcebook of Central European […]

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