By David Bellos
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Additional resources for Balzac Criticism in France, 1850-1900: The Making of a Reputation
Italian Futurism, 22 The Flying Machine and Modern Literature the first significant aesthetic to make a religion of physics and mechanics, employed the airplane as a new organ of perception on the model of Leonardo's innovative use of aerial perspective. From Giovanni Papini's proto-Futurist proclamations in the boisterous journal Leonardo (1903-7) to the 1913 sequence of drawings by Giacomo Balla of swifts in imitation of Leonardo's studies, the Renaissance master haunted the new movement. The ecstasy offorceful release from limits is the supreme ideal that underlies the Futurist adoration of the machine- an homage manifest most strikingly in the postwar "aeropainting" of Gerardo Dottori, among others, and in the many poems - like F.
Louis Bleriot 1 In the four centuries after Leonardo's failed attempts to construct a flying machine no genius of the same order graces the historical record, or none who left us notebooks and designs. As there are mute inglorious Miltons in every country churchyard, perhaps inventors who derived from their observations of flying creatures the "secret" of human flight lie in obscurity because they were unwilling to make public their private discoveries. Secondhand reports of human flight in various countries exist in abundance, and apparently significant numbers of cranks and geniuses threw themselves from rooftops and ran down hills with a mechanism attached to their shoulders.
1072] In this allegory the "pride" which causes "a desire to rise above the air" leads to self-destruction in the form of an imprisonment. One thinks of Satan at the conclusion of The Inferno. When Leonardo is in this mood he is an ardent anti-technologist. "The knife, an artificial weapon, deprives man of his nails- his natural weapon," he writes (p. 1073). Mechanics diminishes man's actual capabilities and makes him dependent on prosthesis and invention for well-being. The vita activa, in other words, constantly exposes creatures to the experience of the Fall within the hierarchy of natural kinds and types.
Balzac Criticism in France, 1850-1900: The Making of a Reputation by David Bellos