“…I urge you to get to work with all your heart, resolute on being bolder, crazier, more advanced, surprising, eccentric, incomprehensible, and grotesque than anybody else in music. I urge you to be a madman.”
-F.T. Marinetti, to composer Francesco Pratella
I took my second of two senior seminars this past semester, and in it we spent a good chunk of time focusing on Italian Futurism, the movement spearheaded by F. T. Marinetti in the early 20th century. Futurists, put simply, had a strong desire to move away from the safety and sameness of past art and literature and dive into more dangerous and unexplained territory. They had a love of speed, danger, and violence, and some of the things Marinetti spoke out on in his Futurist Manifesto made him seem more than a bit unstable. He wrote about the need to move away from cliches (which I mentioned in my post on Dan Wells’ Partials a while back), away from the things considered “safe” in art, things guaranteed to please the masses, and away from the simple retelling of past stories (seriously – how many versions of Romeo & Juliet are out there this point?).
But there is one quote of his I find very relevant to anyone who hopes to pursue an art form, be in painting, writing, singing, etc. He believed that, in order to be seen as an innovator in art, in order to stand out, you must tap into your inner madman and find the good material hidden there. This bit of advice that he offered to composer Francesco Pratella when he joined the Futurist movement was intended to aide him in his pursuits in the Parisian and European art world. But it holds true for anyone who hopes to become successful in art. Don’t focus on what everyone else is doing; be an innovator, do something new, and don’t be afraid to stand out, because otherwise, how will you ever get noticed?