Yet again I see fit to gloss pieces of an article on Waugh - this time I do so in order to illustrate the importance of art in his life, as well as to provide some notion as to how he thought it should reflect "real life".
"As late as 1929...he told an interviewer...'I hope I can bring back enough sketches to hold an exhibition in June and, if successful, abandon writing for painting,"
In his youth Waugh studied art rather than writing, and at 14 wrote an entire essay entitled "In Defence of Cubism" in which he "refutes the notion of art as an exact imitation of life. 'Art can, at the best of times, reproduce only an impression and we have to employ such
optical illusions as perspective by which to deceive the eye."
"In asserting the primacy of the artist's imagination, Waugh repeats one of the central tenets of modern art"
Archie Loss, author of the article, states that the one thing futurists, cubists and vorticists had in common, "was their frequently declared differences from artistic tradition." I am certain we can all agree that this notion bleeds over into literary art, allowing Waugh and, indeed, Woolf to assert themselves. In the magazine "Blast", Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism were blended together in a sort of artistic vision of past, present and furture...the manifesto for the group, regretfully lifted from Wikipedia, is as follows:
1. Beyond Action and Reaction we would establish ourselves.
2. We start from opposite statements of a chosen world. Set up violent structure of adolescent clearness between two extremes.
3. We discharge ourselves on both sides.
4. We fight first on one side, then on the other, but always for the SAME cause, which is neither side or both sides and ours.
5. Mercenaries were always the best troops.
6. We are primitive Mercenaries in the Modern World.
7. Our Cause is NO-MAN'S.
8. We set Humour at Humour's throat. Stir up Civil War among peaceful apes.
9. We only want Humour if it has fought like Tragedy.
10. We only want Tragedy if it can clench its side-muscles like hands on its belly, and bring to the surface a laugh like a bomb.
I think it is very clear how this art, or an art with this sort of manifesto might overlap with Waugh's work, or outlook on the world. - To add to this idea, I will post Marinetti's "Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting" (as found in the article I will cite at the end of this post), and remember that it is Marinetti's futurist doctrine Waugh is supposedly fighting...what a paradox!
"The gesture which we would reproduce on canvas shall no longer be a fixed moment in universal dynamism. It shall be the dynamic sensation itself.
Indeed, all things move, all things run, all things are rabidly changing. A profile is never motionless before our eyes, but it constantly appears and disappears. On account of the persistency of an image upon the retina, moving objects constantly multiply themselves; their form changes like rpid vibrations in their mad career. Thus a running horse has not four legs, but twenty, and their movements are triangular."
Is any of this talk of art useful to us? I believe so. They say that these ideals influenced much of Waugh's visual art. I believe that the movements Waugh experienced were artistic ones, and that the space between modernist art and literature is not a great divide, but rather a membrane through which ideas are easily passed back and forth and back and forth...Archie Loss argues that the principles Waugh was exposed to in his early career continued to be reflected in his literary work, though he was "no longer sympathetic to such principles." I hope that makes sense to you...I'm so tired just now, on the cusp of some great thought, never quite to arrive.
Please find the article referred to through ebsco (it is a good one for us, and may well make it into my final essay) - Loss, Archie. Journal of Modern Literature, Winter92, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p155, 10p; (AN 9408160268)