This blog now has its own theme, designed and implemented by yours truly. It is shamelessly based upon the modernist journal BLAST! which was edited, and largely written by, the odious but brilliant Wyndham Lewis, and which ran to a grand total of two issues, which you can download from the Internet Archive here and here. I love the look of it: the aggressive, in-your-face typography, the deliberate appropriation of the popular newspaper print style of the time, and the angular modernism of the illustrations.
The idea to model a theme upon BLAST! comes from two sources. Firstly, and rather trivially, from the Prisma image manipulation app that I, and millions of others, have played with on my mobile phone: one of the filters upon it (the “Urban” filter) produces output that looks joyously similar to the illustrative style of Wyndham Lewis.
The second reason is more serious. The world, as of 2017, is facing (if you hadn’t noticed) what I can only call a shitstorm of neo-fascism. Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen: to call these people fascists is not hyperbole or metaphor. They are literally fascists, pure and simple. And, as fascists do, they have co-opted populism, feeding an anti-rational and malevolent narrative with no regard for truth or nuance to the public.
The intellectual, progressive left is bad at countering this. It sits, skulking in the corners of once-Marxist journals, furiously cultivating internecine conflicts within itself (lo! the Labour Party), or masturbating in student unions where radicalism is not a genuine, committed belief, but a poise for advancement in the model-village Westminster that so many of them enact.
Now is not the time for this. Now is the time to be loud. To be angry. To call out the fascism that is enveloping Europe and America for what it is; to—as much as they do—make a popular and populist credo: that we can be better than this, that hatred and exclusion lead to only one end, and that a society built upon liberalism, progress, and equality is one to be desired and to be fought for.
There is an irony in co-opting the look of BLAST! for this. The Vorticists and their friends were, almost entirely, supporters of fascism themselves. Wyndham Lewis was a thug and an execrable anti-semite and Ezra Pound had a epic love-in with Mussolini; though Gaudier-Brzeska, possibly the only other name connected with the movement who has any currency left today, was far less attracted to this malevolence and, indeed, died fighting it in the First World War. Additionally, and not unconnectedly, the stance on art promoted by BLAST! is, with its hero-worship of the creative individual and sociopathic contempt for any kind of mass movement, the apotheosis of that which I have decried in a number of posts on this very blog.
However, that is in a way precisely the point. The Vorticists, just as the fascists did, and are now doing again, co-opted the energy and populism of the mass media, but injected it with an anti-egalitarian message precisely contrary to the interests of the consumers of the very media that they pillaged. So I feel wholly justified in shamelessly appropriating their look (which can hardly, anyway, be considered a populist one by contemporary standards) to shout my own progressive and egalitarian brain-farts to whoever cares to listen.
Thus the rationalized excuse for this theme. Though, truth be told, I also just love the visual style of the Vorticists, despite their venomous views. I hope Wyndham Lewis turns, ever so slightly, in his grave at this. He was a despicable shite of a man, though he made stuff that looked utterly awesome.
My blog, though self-hosted, uses the WordPress platform, and this is a WordPress theme. It is, however, at present a fairly static affair, and regrettably not responsive or mobile-oriented. This is because it is a long time since I have done any kind of front-end development in anger, and my knowledge of such standards is woefully inadequate. I may, one day, make a project of upgrading this to a distributable standard, and offer it out as public-access theme. Or, alternatively, if any established WordPress developer likes the look of this and would be happy to work with me on turning it round, please feel free to contact me.