Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Vortex Out of German London

I am glad to announce that ‘Vortex Out of German London’, a long essay of mine from 2006, is now published in the Journal of Wyndham Lewis Studies, 3 (2012), 28-66. A copy of the final proofs is available to read here.

Focussing in particular on the involvement in Anglo-German cultural phenomena which characterizes both the Vorticist-period radical culture in London and contemporary neo-Vorticist activity, my article documents points of affinity between the visionary sensibilities of a range of ‘extraterritorial’ cultural phenomena across the twentieth century: Vorticism, the ‘Lukács circle’ and Expressionism around the First World War, along with the London neo-Vorticism developed by Iain Sinclair and Brian Catling during the mid-1970s and after. In the article I argue that the floating social position, as well as the visionary perspective and strategies, adopted by these extraterritorial avant-gardes is of considerable relevance to today’s intellectual life – a condition increasingly riven by reliance on the short-term academic contract and random redundancy. I conclude that the vitalist primitivism of Vorticism, laid out first by Lewis in Blast, leads the aesthetic to occupy a place within a traceable lineage of visionary London writing concerned with the modern citizen’s spiritual passion. This explains why Vorticism interfaces with the exilic modernist sensibility developed within central Europe, which similarly fused romantic anti-capitalism with a magical perspective.

If I were writing the article now I would probably seek to derive its existentialist content from Karl Jaspers rather than Siegfried Kracauer – but, in its belated appearance now, my work drawing on Kracauer does at least chime with what seems to be a tiny Kracauer vogue at the moment (given the current New Formations devoted to him and Graeme Gilloch’s long-awaited monograph out at the end of the month).  

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