To the editors:
Anthony Adler’s review of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (Reader, 3 February) spoils his otherwise astute observations with the throwaway and inaccurate claim for the “futurists’ affinity for fascism.” As a matter of fact, despite Marinetti (the self-declared “leader”) and his ardent imitation of Mussolini, art and culture in Italy at the time were not harnessed to the services of a “Ministry of Propaganda” to the extent that they were in Nazi Germany, where any artistic experiment was immediately denounced as decadent. I certainly wouldn’t want your readers to underestimate the brutal political repression by the Fascists, but you shouldn’t simply ignore the fact that many in Italy chose (and were largely allowed) to ignore the propaganda demands of the regime. (See Futurist Performance by Michael and Victoria Kirby–published by PAJ–for more info.)
In addition to distorting the facts, that casual remark can only discourage Stage Left and other enterprising companies from trying out material from the historical avant-garde and breaking down the often mindless complacency about the superiority of the contemporary and the down-home American in this town’s theatre. NOT FAIR.
E. 59th Street
Anthony Adler replies:
Talk sense, Loren. Your comments about the comparative liberality of Italian fascists are completely–and rather bizarrely–immaterial. Of course the futurists had an affinity for fascism. The very text you cite, Kirby and Kirby’s Futurist Performance, grudgingly acknowledges that “It is true that many of the Futurists were Fascists. It is true that Marinetti, as early as 1914, was a good friend of Benito Mussolini; that Roma Futurista, a daily newspaper printed to publicize the movement, also contained articles praising the future dictator, and that later Futurists publications were sometimes dedicated to him or contained his picture.”