Направления, течения >> Эстетические концепции 1920-х гг. >> Классики группы «Лирический круг». Вестник у порога. Дух классики >> The masters of «Lyrical circle» group. The herald is on the doorstep. The spirit of the classics

The spirit of the classics blows us already all around. All breathe by this spirit, but are not able to distinguish it to know how to name it or simply are afraid to do it. We think, the last is nearest to truth. «Classics is a reaction; a revolution will not tolerate classics», – we are told over and over again during these years. And we believed that there is a real and correct formula in front of us, but not a light combination of words, is borned of the spirit of localism and fashion. That is why we so aspired to join to what wanted to appear as a true and natural result of our time: to the triad of «ism’s» – cubism, futurism and expressionism. They used the name of the left art, their poets and painters proclaimed themselves the poets and painters of the revolution, and they in fact visited in power and by the name of the revolution ruled art and us.

Now we know they are the impostors, we ingenuously gave away them our rules and we have to return ourselves on the due place. So: a wrangle is about the revolution?..

This is the case: our art is the art of classics, but the art of classics is the art of revolution, consequently our struggle for classics is a struggle for a poetry of the revolution, and the struggle for it is, in its part, a struggle for a vitality of our art and for a modernity of our skill. In this way we define our creative work.

And, however, we just will have to return to the beginning. Contrary to  the affirmation that classics is a reactionary phenomenon, that is the inimical to life phenomenon, how we can say this is the theory of the blind men or self-interested people and the classics in fact is a child and the essence of the revolution?..

We answer so:

– If the creative process is not expedient, if the flow of life is only a casual combination of energies, if the revolution is only the result of the mechanical detonation of inflammable substances accidentally collected together, – then, of course, it will not be possible to tie together the revolution and a spirit of classics which all is full around us.

But there is another feeling of life, which , of course, only one is peculiar to us and them. It testifies that a movement of a life is expedient;  history goes to the aim, – to absolute or relative aim – this is not important: albeit to a relative!..

But if the modernity goes to its aim the revolution is also teleological. Even more than that: there is no such an obsession of aim and such a teleological paphos like exactly in the revolution... And here we can in full measure accept the dispute between classics and «izms». The revolution has «a voice – the voice of Jacob, and hands – the hands of Esau». Its spirit is ideal, but the exterior is harsh. Its aims are constructive, but movement is destructive. The revolution goes to clarity, harmony, to what is desired; but movement of the revolution is accompanied by a darkness, chaos and horror. So the revolution exists on the contrasts. It destructs order by means of disorder, and it does away desorder with an order. The first is its beginning, the second is its end. People who assert that a teleology of the revolution is destruction since they can just perish under its ruins, similar to people who assert that the function of a broom to dust, because they sneeze going by. But passers-by will finish sneezing, dust will settle, and it will be clean and free around. A destruction and a dust are only ruins and elements of those old, decomposing and decaying, what joined out of the past a movement of the revolution at a new harmony: so leafs, a grain of sand, straw moving tornado around the racing train.

But can you say, that in it is the essence of its movement? Meanwhile our predecessors, people three «isms», said exactly so, and general rumour named them «futurists» only. They assert, that their poetry is revolutionary, because their poetry forces all noses to sneeze. But this logics is the logics of dusting. This logics stands on the head, like all their art. Put both on its feet, and you will see: futurism already did not exist – classics appeared.

It is necessary always to have in view the basic phenomenon in the social life of Art. There is in it what usually permit to speak about «prophetic qualities of Art». These qualities are such. A process of life, movement of history are showing themselves in the different spheres of culture differently and not immediately. There is, could say, a different «photosensitivity» amidst the different their strata. Between what matures and flows in its depth, and what reveals itself and reflects itself outside is a resistance of a environment and a distance. It is necessary to traverse path from a core to a surface. The history of culture testifies that this path and this resistance is not overcome by the all forces simultaneously and equally. Some of its areas already notes the beginning of movement of the history to the new border, when the others else keep silent because feel nothing. And now we see, that heightened sensibility is peculiar to poetry, painting, sculpture, music; the lowest – to philosophy. As a philosophy always is late and only interprets the traversed path, so an Art gives a signal change is coming long before it will happen, and a clarity of its notes so great that when after it, already from the point of view of a philosophic retrospectivism, to investigate and appreciate these signals, they really come into a portending which came true with an inexorable fatal exactness. Now remember, when the three «isms» appeared and what preached. Some of its areas already notes the beginning of a movement of a history to the new  border, when the others else keep silent because feel nothing. And now we see, that heightened sensibility is peculiar to poetry, painting, sculpture, music; the lowest – to philosophy. As a philosophy always is late and only interprets the traversed path, so an Art gives a signal change is coming long before it will happen, and a clarity of its notes so great that when after it, already from the point of view of a philosophic retrospectivism, to investigate and appreciate these signals, they really come into a portending which came true with an inexorable fatal exactness. Now remember, when the three «isms» appeared and what preached.

They appeared five years before the war, and if to  talk about  their first immature and rudimentary forms, we even will come to 1907–1908. During 1910 they already were leaping forward, the performances of the cubists already  were held, the strident futurism there and then catched and begun to suppress them, and in its shadow, on the threshold of the war, the source of expressionism quickly began to beat and spread. People of a calm, old settled life, people of a traditional way of life, people of pre-war time, who did not know that the world would rush toward the «July 18 1914», their coming looked only as a excessive, previously unheard manifestation of the bohemian shamelessness, the record of an impudence of the seeker of fame, of an impudence, which reached a paroxysm and turned into a unrestrained, constant artistic tic of a brush, pen, key-board.

But when the five years passed, the war broke out, and then  the revolutions took place in the vanquished countries (both are closely interrelated – now the revolution is a finish of  the unsuccessful war, as at the turn of the XVIII–XIX centuries the war was a finish of the unsuccessful revolutionary) – at that time the marks, by our Art had placed on our pathes, got a general sense. They were only the most early indices of the historic barometre. Now it is clear that the cubism, with its naked preforms of the objects and nature, was giving signals of an approaching war and, after the war, about a revealing the most deep social primordial elements of a life; that the futurism, with its preaching of an eternal dynamism, permanent move of all parts of objects, ruptureof all organic forms – presaged process, which now is continuing, of move all the strata of a personal or social life, are gliding down, knocking out of the way and tearing to pieces each others, as a snowy immense fields which suddenly rushed off from a mountain because of someone's fatal shot, rended the air; that the expressionism with its paphos of a ramifying world, with its hymn by a process of a formlessness, an apologia of a spirit, released from any plastical norms and uninhibited by any logic, – socially and psychologically, and artistically was giving us the signals again about the last phase of a break and decay the way of our life. Social-historical significancy of «isms» was homogeneous with their artistic-formal peculiarities; the methods of the decomposition and displacements were combined with the themes of the destruction and death; a simplification, primitivisation, rupture, displacement, shift, atomization of the old forms of poetry and Art joined to a picture of the moments of war, mutinies, revolts, fights, trenches, barricades, explosions, disruption, calcification. It was coming, consistently, smoothly showing, along the links of the common chain: Marinetti – Maykovsky – Apollinaire – Kruchonykh; Russolo – Shenberg – Prokofjev; Picasso – Shagal – Klee; Boccioni – Arkhipenko – Tatlin etc all along the line.

It is clear, how much a correctness and impartiality need to determine where is the place for «isms» in modernity, their relation to the war and revolution. The Revolution on the one hand was caused by the war, it is its child and heiress, on the other – the revolution itself is causing our future, it is its mother and prototype. In the first part –  the revolution is only a appendage, continuation of the war, that is the pure negation, destruction. In the second part – it is the cradle of the coming new life, – that is the pure statement, creation.

The «isms» are connected and with the war, and with  the revolution, but the character of this combination is understandable. The combination was in possible because the revolution was its first, negative phase. The «isms» rolled into the revolution on an inclination of the war, and kept their place in it mechanically. Because of it they produced only a destructive work. An affair of the war they had continued to produce in the revolution, being congruent in its essence and for time with the first period of the revolution. But they had to stop, as they lost their's strength in that time, when they had to go uphill. Indeed they stopped blindly and helplessly before the very essence of an affair of the revolution, in front of the revolution, which elevated the heaviness of the building, in front of the revolution rushing to its aim at full speed. The wise word of Matiss about the cubists was justified, and acquired a common meaning: «They have methods, but no aim». The teleology of the revolution did not understand any «ism». Their decadence came.

Exactly then suddenly spirit of classics in the Art appeared. Nobody invited it. Not much waited and waited for it, as in one’s time – «isms». In the live creative work of the live people of itself, besides of their consciousness and intention, the sprouts of a new classics appeared, as a live bloom. The Art signals again. About what? This is a question about of its social roots. And how? This is a question about of its artistic forms. We answer: to one – in a title, other – in a creed. A modernity crossed the line. A clearing finished, a building begins. The revolution comes to its aims. It already thinks about its own «in the name of». All, what rushed about, moved, rocked, tried on and wanted, – takes up the definite place. Everywhere an unstable balance emerges; but every strata, every pieces, every atom of a calming life seeks a full basis. A division, selection, combination are entering in a chaos. Ahead the new cosmos of life must to appear. Both the old and the new will be combined. From the old that comes, what did not permit to destroy itself, what resisted the press of the war and revolution, had not gave way and splited; from the new it enters, what was not  worn out and ruined, doing its revolutionary destructive work. The revolution enters in traditional stage, but the tradition is already renewed. A necessity, constraint grow weak, go away. And we wait for a mercifulness and humaneness will return to the world. A crowds, general body of society – one,  what the revolution and war wanted to know and could control, – now individual spirit can declare itself. A weak, muted voice of its thoughts and feelings is heared nevertheless. And we wait for this voice will be another, than it was earlier, – not the voice of the capricious I, not the voice of a creature, who separated itself from the other creature, not the voice of the creature closed on itself, not the voice of a solipsistic self-assertiveness, – but the voice of a human conscience, important and significative for all people, even in the most intimate and personal spheres.

Out of the depth of human’s soul a thirst is becoming more strong every day, – a thirst of a clarity, harmony, simplicity. That is why classics, a   strictness of its forms, an equilibrium of its parts, precision of its prosody, a  attracts us so strongly. That is why we inhale breath of the classic tradition of the past, as a waft of a fresh wind, and its classical creations again youthfully germinate for us. this is a voice of teachers, who experienced the same. And we studies, listening this voice.

Do we imitate them? Oh, this is a fatal question about  what every comer asks us! Do we imitate them? Yes, because we touch the same strings. No, because we make the other songs. Using the favourite epithets of the revolution, we are the «right» and the «left» simultaneously. Could it be otherwise: we take upon ourselves and carry all the artistic heritage of the revolution? So, we are coloured by «isms»; but it means: we re-fuse the «isms». A contemporary classics, breaking out into blossom today, is the left classics, because it just now separated from the kingdom of «isms», as a point of a fissure of the revolution, just left behind. The uneasiness of a futuristic rhythm, and the heaviness of a cubistic  corpuses, and the fiery of a expressionistic nonsense introduce carefully into the mainstream of the classical tradition. With them the tradition grows younger. And this is not its norm, but its material.

How long will come classics, how long will carry this leftism? This is again the fatal and again useless question. May be, this is for the ten years, may be – for years. Not all the same? The time will come, and over the shoulder another system of Art  shows its face, heralding the other way of life, and classics will retire, and, may be, we else ourselves will salute the new forms and enjoy them. So what? Or the affair consists again in «absolute absolute». We answered already: the saint movement of life to the every their phases and the every bloom of Art are beatiful.

Now on the threshold the herald of classics stands and calls it in his harmonic space. We go.

Abram Efros

Lyrical circle (pages of poetry and criticism).

Moscow, 1922.