THE QUALITIES WHICH made Futurism a turning-point in the development of Modern theories of design were primarily ideological, and concerned with attitudes of mind, rather than formal or technical methods--though these attitudes of mind were often influential as vehicles in the transmission of formal and technical methods which were not, in the first place, of Futurist invention.
The new ideological orientation of the Futurists can be seen as early as the Foundation Manifesto, published in Le Figaro, 20 February 1909. This Manifesto was entirely the work of Fillipo Tomaso Marinetti, the founder and continuous animator of the Futurist Movement. Though originally written in French ( Marinetti was a graduate of the Sorbonne, in Letters) and only subsequently translated into Italian, it was apparently written in Milan, and is, certainly, substantially ∣autobiographical.1 It consists of three parts, not separately titled but different in structure and style. The first (or Prologue) is narrative, the second sets out a programme of action and beliefs in tabulated form, and the third is a reflective Epilogue.
The first and second sections are of the greatest interest in the present context, the Prologue in identifying Marinetti's state of mind and the social setting that enframed it, the second in formulating the Futurist attitude to various aesthetic and cultural problems.
The Prologue opens with a piece of fin-de-siçcle stage-setting
We had been awake all night my friends and I, under the mosque-lamps whose filigree copper bowls were constellated like our very souls... we had trampled out our ancestral ennui on opulent turkey carpets, arguing to the limits of reasoning, and blackening innumerable sheets of paper with our frantic scribblings....
In the middle of the next paragraph, the tone of voice begins to change
We were alone before the hostile stars... alone with the stokers who sweat