If later testimonies are to be believed, around 1927 Peruvian poet Carlos Oquendo de Amat (1905-1936) published in Lima, under the title Celuloide (Celluloid), a magazine devoted to film news and reviews.
In twenty-first century poetry about the millennial wars in Iraq, the deities and heroes of ancient Mesopotamia are congregating. Dunya Mikhail’s “Inanna” imagines the eponymous Sumerian goddess decrying the sight of “antiquities / scattered / and broken / in the museum.”
Ever since the publication of Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, the phrase “empty, homogenous time” (borrowed from Walter Benjamin), has become synonymous with the historical imagination of nationalism.
How did the novel, which shared most of its history with the rise and consolidation of the modern nation-state, adapt to a new world order scrambled by war, colonialism, and migration?
New. Now. Motion. Speed. Acceleration. Expansion. Pause. Renew. Now, again.
In the early twentieth century, there is no such thing as transnational literary modernism. Yet, in the early twenty-first century, there is transnational modernist studies.
In the introduction to his superb book Realism after Modernism, Devin Fore describes a “shared modernist aspiration to achieve conditions of perception and consciousness outside of what is customarily arrogated to the human.” He sees this as the tie that binds avant-garde movements across early twentieth-century Europe: from José Ortega y Gasset to Jean-François Lyotard, Paul Cezanne to Velimir Khlebnikov, modernism was a radically diverse enterprise with an eye to the aesthetic transcendence of language, figuration, an
My son sits at the desk, knee propped on its edge, keyboard in lap. Nearby, a television bolted to the wall displays a high-definition humanoid, clad in luminous armor inscribed with obscure heraldry, dancing with ecstatic abandon. Were it not odd enough that they are dancing in the lugubrious depths of a biomorphic dreadnaught inhabited by a terrible and hostile alien race intent on destroying the earth and everything upon it, the dance they dance is the “Carlton,” made famous by actor Alfonso Ribeiro on the 1990s sit-com The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
What is this thing called modernist studies? And what does it look like when viewed from the—for most—faraway islands of Aotearoa/New Zealand?
Henry Kiyama’s semi-autobiographical bilingual comic strip, The Four Immigrants Manga: A Japanese Experience in San Francisco, 1904–1924 (1931), follows four Japanese student immigrants in the early years of the twentieth century and depicts the hardships they face as they try to settle in California, find employment, and learn to navigate the modern American metropolis. The Manga takes on contemporaneous cultural representations of East Asian immigrants, simultaneously uncovering and giving form to the affective, social, and historical processes that underlie the production of racial stereotypes. At the same time, it traces the author’s artistic development and shows him working assiduously to master traditional Western painterly techniques in order to “create some masterpieces, fusing the best of East and West.” In this way, the comic strip represents and examines its own mode of production, typifying the modernist artwork’s self-conscious reflection on its own conditions of possibility. In setting up the parallel between Henry’s artistic labor and the other characters’ abortive attempts to secure jobs and make profitable investments, Kiyama’s work makes explicit the interdependence of the historically specific forms of aesthetic production at the turn of the century and the form of labor under capitalism. It gives expression to what Stewart Martin characterizes as the “antinomy of autonomous art in capitalist culture,” whereby the modernist work of art “obscures its constitution within commodity culture” by way of its formal abstraction, only to converge with the commodity form by virtue of the exchange-value it accrues, paradoxically, as a work of art.[2