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Revues modernistes, revues engagées

 | 
Benoït Tadié
, 
Céline Mansanti
, 
Hélène Aji

Troisième partie. Groupes et mouvements

Life Among the Surrealists  : Broom and Secession Revisited

Peter Nicholls

Texte intégral

  • 1 There are, predictably, numerous accounts of this event. See, for example, Matthew Josephson, (...)
  • 2 For the origins of the quarrel in the “Woodstock swamp,” see Harold Loeb,The Way It Was, Ne (...)

1It is a cold winter afternoon in upstate New York in 1923. Two young men are fighting in a wet, marshy field. Or perhaps fighting is not quite the right word, since both are unfit and more accustomed to verbal than to physical combat. The two are actually just rolling around in the mud in a sort of travesty of wrestling. Nobody gets hurt, of course, and the friend who is ostensibly refereeing the bout soon stops it out of sheer boredom1. The combatants are Matthew Josephson and Gorham Munson, associated respectively with the little magazines Broom and Secession, two publications we now regard as key to the evolution of the American avant-garde and especially to its connections with European Dada and Surrealism (Josephson’s memoir of the period is called Life among the Surrealists, a title I have borrowed). The fight is the product of longstanding enmity, but more recently of a drunken quarrel about the future of the New York avant-garde which, given the difficult circumstances of the two magazines, now seems gloomy, to say the least2.

  • 3 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 266.
  • 4 See letter from Josephson to Loeb in ibid., 200-201.
  • 5 Letter to Harold Loeb, quoted in ibid., 192.

2By this time, both publications had had a colourful, exilic history : Broom, founded in 1921, had published issues in Rome and Berlin, while Secession, appearing the next year, moved between Vienna, Berlin and Florence. But now both had returned to New York City and both were in deep financial trouble. For Josephson, who had hoped that bringing Broom home to America might produce some new explosion of Dada activity, the ludicrous brawl with Munson signals the collapse of artistic adventurism into bathos (we cannot help but recall the more spectacular heroism of that other famous Dada combat, the short-lived but electric bout in 1916 between world champion boxer Jack Johnson and Dadaist performer and amateur pugilist Arthur Cravan ; in contrast to the muscular opponents on the famous match poster for that bout, Josephson recalls rather snidely that Munson “had become very fat, outweighing me by about fifty pounds. His fists felt like pillows3”. Not to be outdone, Munson would subsequently claim to all and sundry that the combat had ended in a draw4. This muddy imbroglio might signify, then, the closing of a circle that had opened in Josephson’s pre-War childhood, with the emergence of New York Dada under the aegis of Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia, and now was ending in a mess of unpaid bills and bad tempers. “The Munson-Josephson quarrel,” wrote Malcolm Cowley, “after threats to become epic, has developed into a mean higgle of money matters5”.

  • 6 Matthew Josephson,ibid., 66.
  • 7 William Carlos Williams,Imaginations, Webster Schott (ed.), New York, New Directions, 1971, (...)

3When Josephson and Munson had made their separate ways to Europe at the beginning of the twenties, they like many others of their generation were mesmerised by the allure of the foreign and exotic. In his memoir, Josephson explained that “Many of us felt the urge to travel abroad in order to continue our studies and learn what we could of the perfection the great contemporary Europeans had achieved in the arts6”. Josephson and Munson had been too young to witness the incendiary event that was the Armory Show of 1913, but the reverberations of that exhilarating first taste of the art of the European avant-garde could still be felt. At least the younger generation now knew what to look for and it was the promise of a liberation from America’s puritan legacy that hung heavy in the air. That sense of newness and promise might be summed up in a remark of William Carlos Williams recalling his first viewing of Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase : “I burst out laughing from the relief it brought me !” he wrote, “I felt as if an enormous weight had been lifted from my spirit for which I was infinitely grateful7”. In the moment of New York Dada, the arts were as if suddenly released from their traditional obligations to high seriousness and artistic convention. Duchamp’s Nude, the most talked about contribution to the whole Armory exhibit, announced the end of academicism in painting in its “cruel” mechanisation of the traditionally sentimentalised curves of the female body. That image alone seemed to express a distinctly modern dynamism, a regenerative energy first discovered by the French Cubists in their exploration of primitive artefacts but one which now seemed from a transatlantic perspective a peculiarly apt expression of a specifically American modernity and its idioms.

  • 8 See Milton Brown,The Story of the Armory Show, New York, Hirschborn Foundation, 1963. Black (...)
  • 9 Walter Benn Michaels,Our America : Nativism, Modernism, and Pluralism, Durham and London, D (...)
  • 10 Ibid., 98.
  • 11 Waldo Frank,Our America, New York, Boni and Liveright, 1919, 28. See also Mencken’s slightl (...)
  • 12 Waldo Frank,Our America, op. cit., 135.

4That modernity was singular indeed, though whether American writers and artists would be capable of meeting the challenge it presented remained an open question (most American artists who exhibited in the Armory show received, in fact, short shrift from reviewers8). A new nativist spirit was abroad, however. The title of Waldo Frank’s Our America (1919), for example, spoke powerfully to a new generation’s evolving sense of what Walter Benn Michaels has called “the invention of American identity as a cultural identity9”. As Michaels notes, while for naturalist novelist Theodore Dreiser “America”connoted “a set of social and economic ambitions rather than national ones10,”the late teens and the twenties saw the emergence of lively debates about nationhood and cultural pluralism. To fuel such debates, Frank’s Our America offered a corrosive picture of a country lacking in culture and still in the grip of “the Puritan who,”he said, “first denied nine-tenths of life and then went about the land preaching the satisfaction of denial11”. Yet if America represented, as Frank put it, “the clamped dominion of Puritan and Machine12,”in what sense could it ever be “ours“ ?

  • 13 Ibid., 133, 193, 164.
  • 14 Stearns (ed.), Civilization in the United States : An Enquiry by Thirty Americans, London, J (...)
  • 15 Waldo Frank,Our America, op. cit., 105.
  • 16 Langston Hughes,The Big Sea (1940), in The Langston Hughes Reader, New York, George Brazill (...)

5In part, Frank was appealing to those who, like Williams and Carl Sandburg, Alfred Stieglitz and H. L. Mencken, had “stayed at home” rather than, like Pound, “attitudinizing in London13”. But it was more than a matter of celebrating artists who chose to take America as their theme and to confront its contradictions head-on, for those contradictions were writ large in the title of Frank’s own book. Three years later, Harold Stearns would state in the Preface to a famous symposium that “whatever else American civilization is, it is not Anglo-Saxon14,”and this was a conclusion whose full consequences Frank, like many others, found hard to accept. The “we”of Our America sounded inclusive, of course, and Frank happily contrasted the culture of Los Angeles– “It is sterile. Its agitation begets chill sparks of brilliance, but no good human heart“ –with that of San Francisco whose “charm is almost wholly due to the non-Anglo-Saxon elements15”. Mexicans, Indians, these Frank welcomed with an almost Lawrentian enthusiasm, but of African Americans and that “great dark tide from the South,” as poet Langston Hughes would call it, he had little to say16.

  • 17 The Radical Will : Randolph Bourne Selected Writings 1911-1918, Olaf Hansen (ed.), New York, (...)
  • 18 Eric Walrond, “The Stone Rebounds” (1923), in “Winds Can Wake Up the Dead” : An Eric Walrond Reade (...)
  • 19 Jean Toomer, “Reflections on the Race Riots”(1919), reprinted in Charles Scruggs and Lee Vandemarr (...)
  • 20 See, for example, Theodore Kornweible,Seeing Red : Federal Campaigns against Black Militanc (...)
  • 21 Randolph Bourne,The Radical Will, op. cit., 359, 372.

6In one telling sense, though, the absence of blacks from Our America spoke eloquently of the year in which the book was published. While in the pre-War years cultural theorist Randolph Bourne had quite confidently projected the possibility of a “Trans-National America” in which the country could affirm its “threads of living and potent cultures” rather than seeking to melt them into “the indistinguishable dough of Anglo-Saxonism,” the so-called “Red Summer” of 1919 saw the resurgence of a particularly virulent form of conservative Americanism17. African American troops returning from Europe were caught up in race riots across more than twenty-five American cities while the newly resurgent Ku Klux Klan carried out a wave of lynchings (at its peak in 1922, Klan membership would reach two million). Jim Crow laws were locked in place, the legacy of the Plessy Ferguson case of 1896 which had enshrined the doctrine of “separate but equal,” and homecoming soldiers ran up against “a stone wall–a Gibraltar of prejudice,” in the words of Eric Walrond, a West Indian writer who himself faced hostility from African Americans who derided his countrymen as “monkey chasers18”. Yet there was at the same time a new black militancy abroad, especially among the returning war veterans, with growing support for the Universal Negro Improvement Association and Marcus Garvey’s movement for African independence and black self-determination. Jean Toomer observed in an article for the socialist paper The Call that “the outstanding feature [of the riots] remains, not that the Negro will fight, but that he will fight against the American white19”. And there was plenty to fight against in this period of reaction, as race violence combined with a general fear of communism and anarchism to trigger increased surveillance, censorship and the deportation of alleged political radicals20. The so-called “Red Summer” of 1919 was the spectacular but inevitable expression of the pent-up violence provoked by the “Red Scare”of the late teens and that would continue into the early twenties. Bourne’s dream of a “Trans-National America”now seemed little more than an idle fantasy, something he himself gloomily acknowledged in an essay entitled “The State”written shortly before his premature death in 1918. Here he argued that America’s entry into the War would reveal its totalitarian proclivities : “war is essentially the health of the State,” he wrote, “The State ideal is primarily a sort of blind animal push toward military unity21”.

  • 22 Broom, 3, July 1922, 350. Further references to Broom will be given in the text.

7This dark moment in American history is not one which seems to have registered very deeply on men like Josephson and Munson, however ; their disenchantment with their homeland derived more from its apparent cultural impoverishment than from its deeply engrained racism. The horrors of 1919, in fact, were swiftly effaced–even a left-wing writer like John Dos Passos would set the second volume of his USA trilogy actually entitled 1919 largely in Europe. For its part, Broom magazine would publish some excerpts from Toomer’s Cane, but when Josephson reviewed René Maran’s Batouala in the July 1922 issue, he spoke of it dismissively as “a polemic on the eternally stupefying race question, with suitable tracts of horror and debauchery22”.

  • 23 Ann Douglas,Terrible Honesty : Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s, London, Picador, 1996, 182.
  • 24 F. S. Fitzgerald, “Echoes of the Jazz Age” (1931), in The Crack-Up, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, (...)
  • 25 Ezra Pound,Patria Mia, London, Peter Owen, 1962 [1913], 13.
  • 26 Ibid., 14.
  • 27 Waldo Frank,Our America, op. cit., 171.
  • 28 Claude Mckay,A Long Way from Home, introd. St. Clair Drake, London and Sydney, Pluto Press, (...)

8If the contradictions of 1919 were swiftly repressed, this was partly because that wave of reaction coincided with a boom in the American economy–as Ann Douglas observes, the War meant that “the European economy as a whole was put back eight years. the American economy, in contrast, gained six years23”. The twenties would be, in the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “an age of miracles… an age of art… an age of excess… an age of satire,” an age, in short, in which the apparent contradictions between conservatism and liberalism were bridged by wealth and economic privilege (“It was characteristic of the Jazz Age that it had no interest in politics at all,” Fitzgerald observed24). This would be America’s futurist moment as the promise of expanded social and imaginative horizons found its guarantee in the driving energies of capital. It was this sense of a brutal vitality that had led Ezra Pound several years before to announce an American Renaissance, as he called it. The major works had yet to be produced, of course, but something, he believed, must come of the sheer dynamism of the new metropolis : “I see also a sign in the surging crowd on Seventh Avenue (New York),”he wrote, “A crowd pagan as ever imperial Rome was, eager, careless, with an animal vigour unlike that of any European crowd that I have ever looked at25”. The skyscraper skyline of New York seemed a spectacular expression of this energy ; Pound asked rhetorically “Has it not buildings that are Egyptian in their contempt of the unit26 ?” Primitive, pagan, and modern seemed to converge in the bustling streets of Manhattan, the brutal imperatives of advancing capital at one with the expression of sensual desires. Frank, for example, called New York “a lofty, arrogant, lustful city, beaten through by an iron rhythm27,” while Jamaican writer Claude McKay recalled how he had been “in love with the large rough unclassical rhythms of American life. If I was sometimes awed by its brutal bigness, I was nevertheless fascinated by its titanic strength. I rejoiced in the lavishness of the engineering exploits and the architectural splendors of New York28”. This way of discovering in the ‘rough’movements of the city a permission for both sensual and aesthetic freedoms would be a defining feature of American modernism.

  • 29 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 81.
  • 30 David E. Shi,Matthew Josephson, Bourgeois Bohemian, op. cit., 56.
  • 31 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 118, 151.
  • 32 Ibid., 112.
  • 33 Ibid., 103.
  • 34 Idem.

9For young men like Josephson and Munson, however, it was hard to dissociate the dynamic rhythms of these rapidly expanding cities from a merely crass American materialism, and Europe, they hoped, would offer something finer, something at least more recognisably aesthetic. Josephson shipped to France in September 1921 and promptly, like Williams before him, discovered the liberating arts of the Dadaists. Even though, as he quickly noticed, the famous cafés of the Boulevards Montparnassse and Raspail were “thick with Americans29,”Josephson soon managed to fall in with many prominent members of the Parisian avant-garde : Philippe Soupault, Louis Aragon, Tristan Tzara, Andre Breton, Blaise Cendrars. He was welcomed into the social world of the Dadaists, soon to become the Surrealists, and easily exchanged his youthful decadent pose for the more streetwise bravado of his new friends. “We have decided to attach ourselves to the Dadaists, of whom thrills may be wrested at the lowest cost’, he wrote to Malcolm Cowley in December30”. It was a moment of transition in French avant-gardism, as Josephson noted much later in his memoir : “In 1921,”he observed, “Breton was already shouldering Tzara aside to assume the real leadership of their little sect,” and Josephson didn’t have to wait long for the April 1922 issue of Littérature to announce the end of Dada31. Yet literary history has a tendency to present the transition between movements as too clear-cut and abrupt. What was important to Josephson and the few of his country-men who actually penetrated French culture rather than remaining on the sidelines was the mood of the post-war avant-garde rather than the detail of its various manifestos. With Dada had come a sense of primitive energy that often recalls the so-called “vogue for Harlem” (and Josephine Baker, of course, would have enormous success in Paris). Josephson recalled the Dada events as accompanied by “crude jazz music, the ringing of bells, and the thumping of tom-toms32”. And there was above all a sort of nihilistic certainty in the air that put paid once and for all to the fin-de-siècle aestheticism which for Josephson’s generation had until now provided the only alternative to the rampant commercialism of America. When Josephson met Tzara for the first time he asked whether Dada was “like Cubism or Futurism33”. “No, Tzara replied, with a characteristically sardonic smile ; it was opposed to those schools, was against all ‘isms’ ; in fact Dada is not anything, and it is everything”. And “Dada,” said Tzara “was against literature as well as all culture”. His advice to Josephson was to read Littré’s great dictionary : “There,” he said, “is an admirable work of the highest art. I keep it at my bedside ; begin reading at Z and go backward34”.

  • 35 Ibid., 111.
  • 36 Idem.
  • 37 Idem.
  • 38 See Cowley,Exiles’Return, op. cit., 43 : “This spectatorial attitude, this monumental indif (...)
  • 39 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 116.
  • 40 Idem.
  • 41 See also Harold Loeb,The Way It Was, op. cit., 109 on Josephson’s “affirmative viewpoint”. (...)

10All this was, we might think, an intoxicating but somewhat bitter pill for a young American to swallow. For Tzara’s nihilism was not to be easily adopted by those who like Josephson were fleeing American materialism. There were several reasons why this Dada was less tractable than the earlier Armory show version, as Josephson soon recognised. There was, first of all, the fact that Parisian Dada was deeply marked by the experience of the 1914-1918 war. While most of the Americans Josephson knew had acted as non-combatant volunteers during the conflict, “the greater part of Aragon’s generation,”he noted “had been killed or maimed35”. “Meeting together at the end of the war,”he recalled, “these young men of letters found that they had in common an overwhelming sense of revulsion against the ‘culture’of their country and their time. Their early writings were already imbued with the mood of scorn (le mépris) toward a society whose traditions of family, religion, and patriotism seemed nothing more than a façade. Thus, they were led in time to embrace Dadaism, a movement of intellectual revolt born of the great war36”. Where French writers like Aragon, Eluard, Soupault and Breton had been indelibly marked by “this long orgy of destruction”as Josephson calls it37, the American noncombatants remained largely “observers”of the conflict and its after effects, a point made also by Josephson’s close friend Malcolm Cowley in his Exiles’Return38. The difference in perspective was crucial to any understanding of Dada, and it conditioned the response to French culture that we find in both Broom and Secession. Josephson couldn’t help enjoying the often violent antics of the Dadaists–“At least,”he wrote, “we writers would leave our sedentary lives in our studies, cafes, or the parlors where we used to read our poems to old ladies, and go forth into the streets to confront the public and strike great blows at its stupid face39”. Yet at the same time Josephson never quite grasped the absolute negativity of Dada in its original incarnation, finding in it instead a “spirit of affirmation40” which perhaps more accurately described the moment of transition from Dada to Surrealism41.

  • 42 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 5.
  • 43 Ibid., 154.
  • 44 Idem.
  • 45 Loeb,The Way It Was, op. cit., 10 glosses the title of the magazine “Clean sweep–elem (...)
  • 46 Hoffmanet al., The Little Magazines, op. cit., 103.

11Given the welcome Josephson was getting from the French Dadaists it’s not surprising that his thoughts turned to the little magazine as a means of exploring and promoting the connections between American and European literature. For Josephson had a strong guiding sense of the reciprocal influences at work here. In his memoir, for example, he observed that “Through the agency of Americans like myself, the young Europeans transmitted their advanced ideas to the United States ; and at the same time we young Americans were, in some degree, carriers of new American influences and tendencies to Europe42”. When he met Gorham Munson in Paris late in 1921 he found that Munson, too, was keen to start a magazine (Josephson recalls himself saying to Munson : “My dear boy, if you don’t have faith in little reviews what in hell can you have faith in43 ?”). And so in August 1922 Secession was born, with Munson as editor and Josephson in charge of scouting potential contributors. It was relatively cheap to produce magazines in Europe, and Josephson observed in a letter to a friend in New York that there also wasn’t much significant competition. While the Little Review was still a force to be reckoned with (it would continue publication until 1929), the magazine Others had closed in 1919 and, he commented, the other main contender, Broom, “isn’t doing much sweeping44”. In fact, Broom was doing some “sweeping,” though in its own rather idiosyncratic manner45. The magazine had first appeared in 1921, edited by Harold Loeb and Alfred Kreymborg, as an unusually deluxe production (in the words of Frederic Hoffman, it was “heavy of weight, rich in color, fine in binding and printing ; nothing quite like its aristocratic format had ever been seen in America46”. One contributor even remarked that “it is a sensuous pleasure to be printed on such paper” (Broom, I, 3, January 1922, 286).

  • 47 On Broom in Rome, see also Alfred Kreymborg,Troubadour : An Autobiography, New York, Liveri (...)
  • 48 Kenneth Rexroth,American Poetry in the Twentieth Century, New York, Herder and Herder, 1971 (...)

12The “aristocratic” feel of the magazine reflected Loeb’s own affluent background, as did the well-appointed editorial office at 18 Trinità dei Monte in Rome, a fine palazzo near the Spanish Steps47. It was in many respects a gentleman’s dream–Loeb wrote in the second issue that “The vista from the office window, which includes St. Peter’s Dome, and the banks of the Tiber, facilitates a mood of philosophic detachment. A bottle of Frascati aids digestion” (Broom, II, 3, January 1922, 190). In its early issues-and pretty well up until November 1922, when Josephson appeared on the masthead as Associate Editor-that mood of detachment, combined with the lack of a clearly determined editorial policy, made Broom a home for wide-ranging and often discordant contributions. At the end of issue 1, Loeb provided a Manifesto in which he declared that the aim of the magazine was to select from “the continental literature of the present time the writings of exceptional quality most adaptable for translation into English” (Broom, I, 1, November 1921, 97). This Broom certainly did–Kenneth Rexroth remarks that “it introduced to America all the most exciting new European literature of the time. there was very little Loeb and his editors missed48 “–and the roll call of European writers published there is impressive, to say the least (contributors include Blaise Cendrars, Jean de Bosschère, Ramon Gomez, Robert Musil, Luigi Pirandello, Paul Eluard, Benjamin Peret, Louis Aragon, Richard Huelsenbeck, Guillaume Apollinaire. the list could go, and would need to be supplemented by American writers such as Stein, Williams, Moore, Cummings and Stevens, along with hitherto untranslated texts by Dostoïevski and Lautréamont).

  • 49 David E. Shi,Matthew Josephson, Bourgeois Bohemian, op. cit., 60.
  • 50 Loeb’s sense of Brooms cultural mission was often similar in emphasis–see The Way It Was, 2 : “As (...)

13Yet for a manifesto, Loeb’s statement was unusually mild-mannered, announcing quietly that “Broom is a sort of clearing house where the artists of the present time will be brought into closer contact” (Broom, I, 1, November 1921, 97). In this spirit, Sinclair Lewis provided a puff for the magazine that commended its “workmanlike solidity which promises that it will go on, grow, be significant” (Broom, I, 1, November 1921, 281), a surprising idiom in which to boost an avant-garde publication. For his part, Loeb assured readers that “Broom will find a voice of its own” (Broom, I, 1, November 1921, 94), though this promise was hardly met in the early issues where contemporary art work by Picasso, Derain, Gris, and Gleizes appeared rather awkwardly alongside poetry and prose by Amy Lowell, Haniel Long, and even Walter de la Mare. Writing in Secession in July 1922, Munson concluded that “The Broom joined the anthology classification. Its doing so was the final disappointment which made Secession inevitable” (Secession, 2, July 1922, 30-1). To be sure, there was little of Josephson’s enthusiasm for the French avant-garde in evidence here (Josephson wrote to his friend Kenneth Burke that “Broom was like very weak coffee after all the advance notices49”. Indeed, a piece by Emmy Veronica Sanders entitled “America Invades Europe’ criticised what she saw as the worship of the “literary capering” of Parisian intellectuals and artists by “the extreme left wing of literary American-as represented e.g. by the Little Review and Contact” (Broom, I, 1, November 1921, 89). Sanders was instead keen to promote writers associated with the American magazine Seven Arts-Waldo Frank, Randolph Bourne, Sherwood Anderson, Carl Sandburg–writers, of course, who had in Frank’s phrase “stayed at home”. Even more surprisingly, perhaps, Sanders railed against the intellectually rather than “the intuitively aesthetic,” pouring scorn on what she called “the panting, tongue- lolling, movie-movie, electrically lighted braininess ; true offspring of its parent, the Machine” (Broom, I, 1, November 1921, 91), a comment that ironically predicts most of Broom’s interests in its later, more avant-garde phase. For Sanders, though, Waldo Frank’s Our America remained a fundamental point of reference, for from this, she said, “the modern European world will get a better understanding of the new America’s contact with herself, with her self analyses, self criticism, self transformation, than from all the ultra modern followers of France combined” (Broom, I, 1, November 1921, 9250).

  • 51 Cf. The Way It Was, op. cit., 92 on the Communist strike action : “It seemed to us as if the disor (...)
  • 52 The March is briefly noticed in The Way in Was, op. cit., 133 : “I finally got off [i.e., left Ita (...)
  • 53 George Orwell,Inside the Whale and Other Essays, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books Ltd., 1964, 1 (...)
  • 54 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 111-112.

14For Sanders, then, it is ‘America’s contact with herself’ that matters, not the exposure to an excitingly different and foreign cultural environment that initially had so appealed to Josephson. Broom would certainly present numerous important European works to an American audience, but its relative “detachment,” as Loeb had called it, was governed by a continuing fascination with the virtues and vices of American, rather than of European, culture. That detachment was clearly in evidence in the issue of January 1922 where Loeb explained that the late delivery of the previous issue had been caused by a demonstration by “75,000 Fascisti” on the Italian King’s birthday. “Unfortunately,”he wrote, ‘a slight fracas (the details of which have not been made clear to us) ensued at the terminal station, resulting in the death of two Communists. Early the next morning, the eternal city was visited by lightning : the entire body of labour struck instantaneously, with the ultimatum that not a single soul would return to the daily routine until the last of the Fascisti had departed. The city was paralyzed for days, and Broom along with it” (Broom, III, 1, January 1922, 28851). The tone of wry puzzlement here is revealing, for Broom showed hardly any real interest in the momentous events which were shaping Italy’s future, and the October March on Rome which would sweep Mussolini to power went unremarked in the pages of the magazine52. By November, Broom was being published from Berlin, though the shift from one country to another was registered more clearly in the masthead information than in the contents of the issue. The cultural materials it presented thus seemed to exist in a peculiar transatlantic vacuum, uprooted from their social and political context. This, arguably, is the price paid by a magazine in exile–as George Orwell noted in the case of Henry Miller, “That is the penalty of leaving your native land. It means transferring your roots into shallower soil. Exile is probably more damaging to a novelist than to a painter or even a poet, because its effect is to take him out of contact with working life and narrow down his range to the street, the café, the church, the brothel and the studio53”. It was perhaps because he too had his feet in that “shallower soil” that Josephson was able to conclude that “As a rule, the postwar generation was unpolitical up to the late twenties54 “ ; that, at any rate, was the impression given in the early issues of Broom.

  • 55 Ibid., 125. See also Michael North, “Transatlantic Transfer“, http://www.cts.dmu.ac.uk/exist (...)
  • 56 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 123.
  • 57 Waldo Frank,Our America, op. cit., 372.
  • 58 Dickran Tashjian,Skyscraper Primitives, 127 observes that “In place of Frank’s ideal Americ (...)
  • 59 Michael North, “Transatlantic Transfer,” n.p.

15If the magazine did go on to acquire a certain political edge, it was through its various approaches to the problematic relation of American and European cultures. For, as Michael North has noted, Americans coming to France to escape the perceived vulgarities of their native culture were constantly surprised by the strong appeal the United States had for the European intelligentsia. Josephson, for example, found himself “observing a young France that, to my surprise, was passionately concerned with the civilization of the USA, and stood in a fair way to being Americanized55 !”And again : ”… Soupault and his Dada friends now wanted to discover the true America, represented by our common soldiers in Europe, our Negro jazz bands, and, above all, by our silent cinema56…” Here, then, was an odd turnabout : Broom had begun by endorsing Waldo Frank’s crusade against what he termed “the clamped dominion of Puritan and Machine,” and its second issue (I, 2, December 1921) had carried a eulogistic account of “Notre Amérique” by the eminent translator of Whitman, Léon Bazalgette (“Whitman was a demigod in Paris,” recalls Alfred Kreymbourg57). By the fifth issue of Broom, however, Loeb had ditched Frank’s sentimental projection of what Bazalgette called “this invisible America” (Broom, II, 2, December 1921, 157) and was attempting to get to grips more directly with the actualities of its machine age culture58. This was in effect to see America through European eyes, as Loeb proposed in an essay called “Foreign Exchange,” and it entailed, as Michael North observes, “turning to embrace the very culture it had meant to escape59”. One might not wholly agree with North when he concludes that “watching it meet this challenge. is one of the chief rewards of reading Broom today,” but the tangled logic of some of these arguments certainly points up the ambivalence felt toward America by Loeb and some of his contributors, and it also reveals the limits of their understanding of the European avant-garde’s celebration of American modernity.

  • 60 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 309.
  • 61 David E. Shi,Matthew Josephson, Bourgeois Bohemian, op. cit., 47.

16Once again, detachment was the issue : in a 1922 essay called “The Great American Billposter” and written after he had joined the editorial team of Broom, Josephson spoke of “a painful nostalgia, whereby the material environment of [an American’s] country becomes highly tangible and provocative through its very distance from him” (Broom III 4 [November 1922] 305). The essay is partly directed against “the anguished voices of the Thirty Americans” who had contributed to Harold Stearns’ highly critical anthology Civilization in the United States (1922), but Josephson’s attempt to celebrate advertising as “the most daring and ingenious literature of the age60” is hard to take seriously, with its talk of Shakespeare and Molière as the “immensely successful ‘copy-writers’in their day” and the comparison of Keats’line (misquoted for good measure) “The beaded bubbles winking at the brim” with a bit of advertising copy that reads “Meaty marrowy oxtail joints” (Broom, III, 4, November 1922, 310)–“pure poetry,” according to Josephson. The essays by Loeb and Josephson that try to celebrate American modernity in this way are carelessly enthusiastic to a degree that makes one suspect an element of parody. In Josephson’s piece, for example, the copy-writers may be the poets of their day but this claim is undermined or ironised by an apparently ingenuous acknowledgement that their only real concern is with “ample salaries and smoothly running motorcars”. So too with Loeb’s curious essay on “The Mysticism of Money” in which money acquires aesthetic status in America because there it is regarded as an end in itself whereas in Europe it is taken simply as a means to an end. To see America through European eyes, as Loeb thought he was doing, seemed to entail the abandoning of any critical attitude toward it. At the beginning of his essay, in fact, Loeb announced that “The criticism of America by American intellectuals which has been growing in geometrical progression since the early years of the century, has become, I believe, a serious menace to American artistic expression” (Broom, III, 2, September 1922, 115). Looking back to this period some two decades later, Josephson remarked rather similarly that “I for one. never felt either pretended or real disgust with America61”.

  • 62 Quoted in Steinman,Made in America : Science, Technology, and American Modernist Poets, New (...)
  • 63 Letter to Loeb, quoted in his The Way It Was, 124 (emphases in original).

17More problematic still is the way that these almost parodic paeans to American commerce cohabit with what we might call “authentic” expressions of the machine aesthetic. A piece like Josephson’s “The Great American Billposter” reads almost as a deliberate bit of clowning to offset the seriousness of some major statements about machines as formal instigation : Louis Lozowick’s pioneering essays on Russian Constructivism (on, for example, Tatlin’s “Monument to the Third International“), Futurist Enrico Prampolini’s “The Aesthetic of the Machine and Mechanical Introspection in Art,” Paul Strand’s “Photography and the New God” with its carefully chosen images cautioning against a still prevalent tendency to “turn the camera into a brush” (Broom, III, 4, November 1922, 255), and so on. If there is a certain naivety and superficiality attaching to the modernolatry of Loeb and Josephson it is because their approach to machines has few formal consequences and finally amounts to a simple naming of the machine as a way of invoking “modernity”. This is the kind of thing Hart Crane had in mind when he commented that “To fool oneself that definitions are being reached by merely referring to skyscrapers, radio antennae, steam whistles, or other surface phenomena of our time is merely to paint a photograph62”. Even closer to home, Broom’s American editor Lola Ridge emphasised to Loeb with characteristic perspicacity that “The Machine Age of America should by all means be represented but interpreted, not reported63”. A poem by Josephson called “Pursuit” (Broom, IV, 2, January 1923, 105-107) exemplifies the rhapsodic tendency of which Ridge was rightly suspicious :

O wheels that do not turn. O wheels in the brain cease to turn. Why don’t they hurry I shall simply shriek to sit so steadfastly before an inert landscape. O whizzing dynamo set spinning the vast wheelbelts of this world the long rods in flight down the cool oiled cylinders.

18This celebratory mode is ultimately an empty one, and even the opening reference to “the wheels that do not turn” fails to summon the ironies conveyed by Dada’s “bachelor machines” that in not functioning present a calculated affront to the pragmatic intelligence.

  • 64 Josephson is responding to an essay by Edmund Wilson in Vanity Fair where the latter cautions agai (...)

19And this, perhaps, is the nub of the problem : for the European enthusiasm for jazz, American movies, for the speed of New York life, and so on, increasingly led writers for Broom to think that their own culture was actually something in advance of what hitherto had been Dada. By June 1922, Josephson is declaring in an essay called “Made in America”that “Dada is unquestionably dead” (Broom, II, 3, June 1922, 269) and that even as we witness “the gradual Americanization of the Eastern Hemisphere” (ibid., 270), America remains the authentic and superior source of what is now termed “post-Dada“ : “The fundamental attitude of aggression, humor, unequivocal affirmation which they pose, comes most naturally from America. The high speed and tension of American life may have been exported in quantity to Europe. But we are still richest in material. Our preposterous naïve profound film will never be surpassed by artistic or literary German cinemas. No cities will quite equal what New York or Chicago or Tulsa” (ibid.64) Tulsa ? European Dada may have been an initial stimulus, but like Loeb, Josephson is now asserting cultural independence with a zeal that is blind to all criticism : “Reacting to purely American sources, to the at once bewildering and astounding American panorama, which only Chaplin and a few earnest unsung film-directors have mirrored, we may yet amass a new folk-lore out of the domesticated miracles of our time” (ibid., my emphases).

  • 65 David E. Shi,Matthew Josephson, Bourgeois Bohemian, op. cit., 2.
  • 66 Ibid, 56.

20Josephson’s biographer, David Shi, calls him “the ‘high priest’ of American Dada65,” but it is worth asking how closely the all-American “folk-lore” he envisages really approximates to anything that might be called Dada. Under the editorship of Loeb and Kreymborg, Broom was never amenable to Dada extremism ; after Kreymborg left early in 1922 and Josephson and Cowley subsequently became involved the magazine certainly became less conservative. Dada, however, was already a receding force, as Josephson argued in a piece called “After and Beyond Dada” in the issue of July 1922. But had he or his American colleagues ever really understood what Dada was ? Shi writes that Josephson “had discovered that beneath their façade of aggressive nihilism, the Dadaists harboured an affirmative spirit. They were driven by moral fervour in their assault on bourgeois morality66”. As Shi notes, Josephson preferred to see Dada as “affirmative” rather than as an expression of “war-induced nihilism,” though in doing so, of course, he missed its dimension of corrosive critique which persisted in this circle after Dada had suffered its “official” demise.

  • 67 Tristan Tzara,Seven Dada Manifestos and Lampisteries, trans. Barbara White, London, John Ca (...)
  • 68 Idem, 5.
  • 69 Jean Arp,On My Way : Poetry and Essays 1912-1947, New York, Wittenborn, Schultz, 1948, 40.

21For while Dada’s spirit of negation is generally understood as merely antibourgeois polemic, it actually entails a more complex unleashing of violence against the self. Dada revels in its own “cruelty,”thus perpetuating that decadent bequest to the avant-garde which associates a radical aesthetics with a certain “sadism”. In the case of Dada, such cruelty manifests itself in a relentless “honesty” and a destructive laughter. Yet since Dada is founded in a spirit of absolute contradiction, such cruelty must also be turned back against the self which inflicts it ; so “Punch yourself in the face and drop dead,” advises Tzara67 ; and “The principle ‘Love thy neighbour’ is hypocrisy. ‘Know thyself’ is utopian, but more acceptable because it includes malice. No pity68”. So Jean Arp, for example, in 1915 defines visual works “constructed with lines, surfaces, forms, and colors. They strive to surpass the human and achieve the infinite and the eternal. They are a negation of man’s egotism69”.

  • 70 Peter Sloterdijk,Critique of CynicalReason, trans. Michael Eldred, London, Verso, 1988, 398
  • 71 Tristan Tzara,Seven Dada Manifestos andLampisteries, op. cit., 10, 7.
  • 72 Hans Arp,On My Way, op. cit., 48.
  • 73 Tristan Tzara,Seven Dada Manifestos and Lampisteries, op. cit., 5.

22Tzara takes this one step further, aligning “instinct” with the principle of unresolved contradiction to create a force which liberates the psyche by destroying its stable identity. For that stability belongs to an art which dutifully reflects to the bourgeois an ideal image of self-unity and bodily coherence, a “cultural” personality, we might say, which seems purged of appetite and desire. In his construction of Dada, Tzara seems to recognise that aggressivity towards others actually originates in a primordial aggressivity towards oneself, and the implication of his thought is that “instinct” (or “nature“) is capable of destroying the cultural fabrication which is the “ego”. The instincts, in this sense, may perform a work of disarticulation comparable to the death drive as Freud would shortly define it in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920) ; and for Tzara, as for Freud, this drive towards dissolution would also produce a paradoxical pleasure as it worked to overcome the constraints of the ego. The “great negative work of destruction”on which Dada set its sights thus went far beyond the Futurist attack on cultural tradition. As Peter Sloterdijk acutely observes in his Critique of Cynical Reason, “the Dadaist hatred of culture is logically directed inwardly, against the culture-in-me that I once ‘possessed’and that now is good for nothing70”. So, records Tzara, “We have done violence to the snivelling tendencies in our natures,”rooting out “culture”to reveal “the new man,” “Uncouth, galloping, riding astride on hiccups71”. Nature and life are “idiotic” and “Dada is senseless like nature,” as Arp puts it72, a situation which stalls any dialectic and denies the dream of analytic mastery. We are left with Tzara’s own terse expression of absolute contradiction : “Order = disorder ; ego = non-ego ; affirmation = negation73”. Just as ego “is”what it is not (nature, that is), so nature, according to this “logic,”is a perfect expression of the mechanical–a chain of association which makes the self not only a mechanism devoid of “sense,” but one which seems to desire above all things its own extinction.

  • 74 See Secession, 1, Spring 1922, for Tzara’s poem “instant note brother”(14) and “Unpublished Fragme (...)
  • 75 This distinction is helpfully proposed in Mateil Calinescu,The Faces of Modernity : Avant-G (...)

23It’s not necessary to labour the point : the extremity of this attack on the bourgeois model of the self found no real echoes in either Broom or Secession, though the latter did print two pieces by Tzara in its first issue74. When Josephson writes in “Made in America” that “The machine is our magnificent slave, our fraternal genius. We are a new and hardier race, a friend to the sky-scraper and the subterranean railway as well” (Broom, II, 3, June 1922, 269), the manifesto idiom hardly conceals the conventional nature of this advertisement for bourgeois modernity. What it is not–and this perhaps explains why both Loeb and Josephson used the essay-form in which to assert their “post-dada” modernism–is an articulation of what we might call by way of contrast aesthetic modernity75.

  • 76 Harold Loeb,The Way It Was, op. cit., 82.
  • 77 Robert Delaunay,Du Cubisme a l’art abstrait, Paris, SEVPEN, 1957, 114.

24What that last term might signify is clear from a contribution by Blaise Cendrars to the third issue of Broom, “Profond Aujourd’hui” (1917), a three-page prose poem translated by Loeb as “Profound Today” (Broom, 1, 3, January 1922, 265-267). Why Loeb selected this particular text is not particularly clear, especially as he later described it rather dismissively as “a bit of verbal fireworks76,” but the appearance of Cendrars in Broom has its importance. Outside Italian Futurism, he was perhaps the poet of modernity, with his celebrations of urban life and the new media, from film and radio to advertising. Cendrars had also authored the first “simultaneous” book, an edition of his long poem The Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Jeanne of France, published in 1913 in an accordion format with designs by Sonia Delaunay. “Profound Today” is characteristic of the tone of his work and, as its title indicates, has a deliberate debt to Robert Delaunay’s concept of “depth”. In fact Delaunay’s well-known phrase “Everything is colour in movement, depth77” is constantly cited by Cendrars as a figure for his own poetics. The text has a debt to Futurism, not only in its evocation of machines and “the sexual frenzy of the factories” (ibid., 265), but also in its identification of the modern experience as one of centrifugal dispersion. Here Cendrars expresses the same modernist desire for a dissolution of the self in modernity, and the dismemberment of the body which is everywhere in the text is closely connected with an idea of the simultaneity of a new consumer world which allows it to be assimilated to a conception of painterly space. Cendrars’s surrender to the lure of the commodity as something powerful and “profoundly” liberating is accompanied by a twisting and fragmentation of syntactical forms :

Like a religion, a mysterious pill hastens your digestion. You lose yourself in the labyrinth of stores where you give up your identity to become everyone. You smoke with Mr. Book the Havana at twenty-five cents, which is on the poster. You are part of that great anonymous body which is a café. I no longer recognize myself in the mirror. Alcohol has clouded my features. He marries the department store like a bridegroom. We are all the hour which strikes. (265-266)

  • 78 Ibid., 266.
  • 79 Blaise Cendrars,Complete Poems, trans. Ron Padgett, Berkeley, Los Angeles and Oxford, Unive (...)

25Cendrars shares with the Futurists and Jules Romains’Unanimists a sense of the modern as the occasion for a spectacular disembodiment–once penetrated and expanded by capital, the body no longer offers itself as a privileged object of representation, but exists instead as a source of discrete sensory intensities which elude symbolisation. The transformations of the self in this passage, from “I” to “you” to “we,” are bound up with references to colour and rhythm which are intended to evoke the «simultaneous contrasts’’ of Delaunay’s work : “A blue eye opens. A red one shuts. Soon there’s nothing but colour. Interpenetration. Disk. Rhythm. Dance. Orange and violet eat each other up78”. Delaunay’s paintings of Paris and the Eiffel Tower seem to Cendrars to offer an experience of the modern rather than an image of it, the modern as an “event” whose instantaneity language can never properly express. The idea of ‘depth’, then, is one which appears to situate modernity in terms of being rather than of consciousness ; this is the profondeur of reality, a “depth” of experience at which all conventional barriers between discourse and its objects have been overcome–Cendrars dreams of the “First Poem with No Metaphors79”.

26It is just this aspect of Delaunay’s theory which the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty has emphasised :

  • 80 Maurice Merleau-ponty,The Primacy of Perception, James Edie (ed.), Evanston, Northwestern U (...)

Depth thus understood is, rather, the experience of the reversibility of dimensions, of a global “locality” –everything in the same place at the same time, a locality from which height, width, and depth are abstracted, of a voluminosity we express in a word when we say a thing is there80.

  • 81 Blaise Cendrars,Complete Poems, op. cit., 265.
  • 82 Blaise Cendrars, “Why is the ‘Cube’ Disintegrating ?,” in Edward Fry,Cubism, London, Thames (...)
  • 83 Blaise Cendrars, “L’ABC du Cinéma,” Œuvres complètes, 8 vol., Paris, Denoël, 1960-1965, vol. 4, 16 (...)

27In this simultaneous world, where commodities testify not to the rule of exchangeability but to «everything in the same place at the same time” – “Produce, from five parts of the globe, united on the same plate, in the same dress,’’ as Cendrars puts it81 –in this world, writer and painter must strive to convey not “the reality of the object” but “reality itself82”. As Cendrars tells us in an account of the cinema, “We drink. Drunkenness. Reality has no meaning. No significance. Everything is rhythm, word, life. There’s no longer any [need for] proof. You commune83”.

  • 84 Idem.

28In light of Loeb’s and Josephson’s repeated claims for America as the new lodestone for the French avant-garde we may note that Cendrars’ fantasy of modernity is one which evokes it not as a national but as a global condition. We might add, too, that while essays like Josephson’s “Made in America” are galvanised by the pragmatic possibilities of capital, Cendrars derives a spectacular metaphysics from the new technologies for which “Cosmogonies live in the trademarks84”. The imagination finds here a way of reconfiguring the straitened world of commerce and production, reinscribing it in an economy which aligns the primitive and the technological in a “deeper” imaginative rhythm. It is a vision of modernity which, unlike Josephson’s, is no longer caught up in the more superficial dilemmas of criticising or celebrating modernity. Instead, Cendrars tries to penetrate “deep” beneath the urban surface to arrive at a phenomenology of the modern in which the rhythms of the imagination might do their redemptive work.

  • 85 See, for example, David Bennett, “Periodical Fragments and Organic Culture : Modernism, the Avant- (...)

29Let me now take a concluding step back from all this detail. The account I have given of Broom may seem rather too schematic, proposing too clearly lines of division through a very heterogeneous body of material. Josephson once criticised Broom for being “untidy” and that is a word that might also apply to Secession which, even with its smaller band of regular contributors, had a notably loose editorial policy (Munson explained that “Our warfare is not denying, but tangential” [Secession 4, January 1923, 30], whatever exactly that meant). In studying these magazines I have been struck again by the difficulties they pose. The material is extremely mixed, bringing together writers one is often surprised to see in the same company. What do we do with a magazine that puts Dada and Walter de la Mare in the same orbit ? (There is an answer to that, but inevitably it’s a Dadaist one.) Our approach to such publications has, of course, to be accepting of discontinuity, provisionality, and open-endedness85. This is in a very obvious sense work-in-progress. At the same time, though, a study of Broom suggests that we are probably always working on at least two levels when we look back to these magazines : it is as if some texts published there–a play by Pirandello for example, or a poem by Wallace Stevens–somehow have little connection to their context, from which sheer familiarity seems to expel them. This is one level at which we read, re-read, or, I suspect, do not actually read at all, just name-checking their first publication here, and then moving on. But there is another level which constitutes, at least in retrospect, the inner life of the magazine. This is the stuff of real interest, providing a set of contextual relations that the now well-known poem by Stevens seems to transcend. Here we have essays, editorials, letters that might convey the swirl of activities–intellectual, personal, financial–from which the magazine quite miraculously emerges. This web of contingencies must be reckoned with in all its complexity, an extremely difficult thing to do and something that will finally never provide a fully satisfying account of why a particular issue turns out looking as it does. In the case of Broom, in fact, we have a peculiar example of a magazine in which, to quote Michael North again, «the most considerable contributions, have almost no connection to the policies of the editors’’. Only in a little magazine, perhaps, could avant-garde consensus contain so much dissent and misunderstanding, and only there could it be played out as a grand contest between national cultures. But little magazines are so named in reference to their audience size, and what may finally puzzle us is that balance between, on the one hand, the smallness of the venture and, on the other, the magnitude of the ambition. Does this level of incommensurability explain why avant-garde movements have often had to pay for their moments of heroism and sublimity with unintended lapses into bathos ? It was the genius of Dada to have recognised that tendency and to have co-opted it as heroic in itself. But as I have said, the Dada of Josephson and Munson was a mere shadow of its original, and one sorely compromised by its paradoxical “Americanism”. Their lapse into bathos was perhaps predictable ; this story of Broom and Secession ends as it began, with two men fighting clumsily in a muddy field in upstate New York.

Notes

1 There are, predictably, numerous accounts of this event. See, for example, Matthew Josephson, Life Among the Surrealists, New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962, 266-267 ; David E. Shi, Matthew Josephson, Bourgeois Bohemian, New Hampshire and London, Yale University Press, 1981, 1988 ; Malcolm Cowley,Exiles’Return : A Literary Odyssey of the 1920’s, London, The Bodley Head, 1951 [1934], 183-184 ; Frederick Hoffman, Charles Allen, Carolyn F. Ulrich,The Little Magazines : A History and A Bibliography, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1947, 99-100.

2 For the origins of the quarrel in the “Woodstock swamp,” see Harold Loeb,The Way It Was, New York, Criterion Books, 1959, 146-147 and Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 230-238.

3 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 266.

4 See letter from Josephson to Loeb in ibid., 200-201.

5 Letter to Harold Loeb, quoted in ibid., 192.

6 Matthew Josephson,ibid., 66.

7 William Carlos Williams,Imaginations, Webster Schott (ed.), New York, New Directions, 1971, 81.

8 See Milton Brown,The Story of the Armory Show, New York, Hirschborn Foundation, 1963. Black American writers and performers would, however, soon leave their distinctive mark on French culture–see, for example, Michel Fabre,From Harlem to Paris : Black American Writers in France, 1840-1980, Urbana and Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 1991.

9 Walter Benn Michaels,Our America : Nativism, Modernism, and Pluralism, Durham and London, Duke University Press, 1995, 15.

10 Ibid., 98.

11 Waldo Frank,Our America, New York, Boni and Liveright, 1919, 28. See also Mencken’s slightly earlier “Puritanism as a Literary Force,” in A Book of Prefaces, 1917.

12 Waldo Frank,Our America, op. cit., 135.

13 Ibid., 133, 193, 164.

14 Stearns (ed.), Civilization in the United States : An Enquiry by Thirty Americans, London, Jonathan Cape, 1922, vii.

15 Waldo Frank,Our America, op. cit., 105.

16 Langston Hughes,The Big Sea (1940), in The Langston Hughes Reader, New York, George Braziller, 1958, 333. Frank did, however, indicate the need for future study of “the cultures of the German, the Latin, the Celt, the Slav, the Anglo-Saxon and the African on the American continent…” (OurAmerica, 97).

17 The Radical Will : Randolph Bourne Selected Writings 1911-1918, Olaf Hansen (ed.), New York, Urizen Books, 1977, 61.

18 Eric Walrond, “The Stone Rebounds” (1923), in “Winds Can Wake Up the Dead” : An Eric Walrond Reader, Louis J. Parascandola (ed.), Detroit, Wayne State University Press, 1998, 88 ; “Vignettes of the Dusk,” 1924, ibid., 92.

19 Jean Toomer, “Reflections on the Race Riots”(1919), reprinted in Charles Scruggs and Lee Vandemarr,Jean Toomer and the Terrors of American History, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998, 226.

20 See, for example, Theodore Kornweible,Seeing Red : Federal Campaigns against Black Militancy, 1919-1925, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1998, 16 : “By 1919 a full-blown political intelligence system was operating in America. Wartime statutes which had proven so useless in muzzling the press, punishing dissidents, and frightening others into prudent silence were still in effect”.

21 Randolph Bourne,The Radical Will, op. cit., 359, 372.

22 Broom, 3, July 1922, 350. Further references to Broom will be given in the text.

23 Ann Douglas,Terrible Honesty : Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s, London, Picador, 1996, 182.

24 F. S. Fitzgerald, “Echoes of the Jazz Age” (1931), in The Crack-Up, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1965, 10.

25 Ezra Pound,Patria Mia, London, Peter Owen, 1962 [1913], 13.

26 Ibid., 14.

27 Waldo Frank,Our America, op. cit., 171.

28 Claude Mckay,A Long Way from Home, introd. St. Clair Drake, London and Sydney, Pluto Press, 1985, 244.

29 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 81.

30 David E. Shi,Matthew Josephson, Bourgeois Bohemian, op. cit., 56.

31 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 118, 151.

32 Ibid., 112.

33 Ibid., 103.

34 Idem.

35 Ibid., 111.

36 Idem.

37 Idem.

38 See Cowley,Exiles’Return, op. cit., 43 : “This spectatorial attitude, this monumental indifference toward the cause for which young Americans were risking their lives, is reflected in more than one of the books written by former ambulance drivers”.

39 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 116.

40 Idem.

41 See also Harold Loeb,The Way It Was, op. cit., 109 on Josephson’s “affirmative viewpoint”. On this matter, Josephson was closer than he would perhaps have liked to think to Waldo Frank who in “Seriousness and Dada”(1924) declared that “A healthy reaction to our world must, of course, be the contrary of Dada ; it must be ordered and serious and thorough. Dada worked well in overmature Europe. We, by analogue, must be fundamental, formal” (Frank,In the American Jungle [1925-1936], New York and Toronto, Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., 1937, 130).

42 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 5.

43 Ibid., 154.

44 Idem.

45 Loeb,The Way It Was, op. cit., 10 glosses the title of the magazine “Clean sweep–elemental rhythm”. The first issue carried as epigraph the following quotation from Melville’s Moby-Dick : “What of it, if some old hunks of a sea captain orders me to get a Broom and sweep down the deck ? What does that indignity amount to. who aint a slave ?”As Loeb himself noted, however (ibid., 76), there were “contradictions, between the sentiment of the sweeping sailor, which I shared, and the snob appeal of our make-up”. See also Dickran Tashjian,Skyscraper Primitives : Dada and the American Avant-Garde 1910-1925, Middletown, Wesleyan University Press, 1975, 118 : “Ishmael’s subversive acquiescence to authority implied that Broom, a humble and little-regarded review, might sweep the past aside, and take on avant-garde dimensions”.

46 Hoffmanet al., The Little Magazines, op. cit., 103.

47 On Broom in Rome, see also Alfred Kreymborg,Troubadour : An Autobiography, New York, Liveright, Inc., 1925, 374-81.

48 Kenneth Rexroth,American Poetry in the Twentieth Century, New York, Herder and Herder, 1971, 91.

49 David E. Shi,Matthew Josephson, Bourgeois Bohemian, op. cit., 60.

50 Loeb’s sense of Brooms cultural mission was often similar in emphasis–see The Way It Was, 2 : “As far as I knew, no one had ever published America’s young writers in old Europe, where it was supposed in certain circles that American literature had stopped with Edgar Allan Poe”.

51 Cf. The Way It Was, op. cit., 92 on the Communist strike action : “It seemed to us as if the disorder had been timed to keep Broom from leaving”.

52 The March is briefly noticed in The Way in Was, op. cit., 133 : “I finally got off [i.e., left Italy] on September 22, the day Mussolini’s cohorts had picked for their march on Rome”.

53 George Orwell,Inside the Whale and Other Essays, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books Ltd., 1964, 12.

54 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 111-112.

55 Ibid., 125. See also Michael North, “Transatlantic Transfer“, http://www.cts.dmu.ac.uk/exist/mod_mag/file/north_transatlantic_transfer.pdf. Also, Alfred Kreymbourg,Troubadour, 366 : “No one talked art in the group ; it was simply not done. Vaudeville, the latest Argentine tango, American jazz, skyscrapers, machinery, advertising methods–these were the new gods here”. And 373 : “There was no escaping New York in Europe.“

56 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 123.

57 Waldo Frank,Our America, op. cit., 372.

58 Dickran Tashjian,Skyscraper Primitives, 127 observes that “In place of Frank’s ideal America, he [Loeb] offered a European depiction of an America with its industrial vitality intact, unclouded by sentiment or idealism”.

59 Michael North, “Transatlantic Transfer,” n.p.

60 Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 309.

61 David E. Shi,Matthew Josephson, Bourgeois Bohemian, op. cit., 47.

62 Quoted in Steinman,Made in America : Science, Technology, and American Modernist Poets, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1987, 12.

63 Letter to Loeb, quoted in his The Way It Was, 124 (emphases in original).

64 Josephson is responding to an essay by Edmund Wilson in Vanity Fair where the latter cautions against the new obsessions with machines and remarks that “The electric Signs in Time Square make the Dadaists look timid ; it is the masterpiece of Dadaism, produced naturally by our race and without the premeditation which makes your own horrors self-conscious” (quoted in Matthew Josephson,Life Among the Surrealists, op. cit., 191).

65 David E. Shi,Matthew Josephson, Bourgeois Bohemian, op. cit., 2.

66 Ibid, 56.

67 Tristan Tzara,Seven Dada Manifestos and Lampisteries, trans. Barbara White, London, John Calder, 1977, 28.

68 Idem, 5.

69 Jean Arp,On My Way : Poetry and Essays 1912-1947, New York, Wittenborn, Schultz, 1948, 40.

70 Peter Sloterdijk,Critique of CynicalReason, trans. Michael Eldred, London, Verso, 1988, 398.

71 Tristan Tzara,Seven Dada Manifestos andLampisteries, op. cit., 10, 7.

72 Hans Arp,On My Way, op. cit., 48.

73 Tristan Tzara,Seven Dada Manifestos and Lampisteries, op. cit., 5.

74 See Secession, 1, Spring 1922, for Tzara’s poem “instant note brother”(14) and “Unpublished Fragment from Mr. AA The Antiphilosopher”(20-1), both translated by Josephson using the pseudonym “Will Bray”.

75 This distinction is helpfully proposed in Mateil Calinescu,The Faces of Modernity : Avant-Garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1977.

76 Harold Loeb,The Way It Was, op. cit., 82.

77 Robert Delaunay,Du Cubisme a l’art abstrait, Paris, SEVPEN, 1957, 114.

78 Ibid., 266.

79 Blaise Cendrars,Complete Poems, trans. Ron Padgett, Berkeley, Los Angeles and Oxford, University of California Press, 1992, 77.

80 Maurice Merleau-ponty,The Primacy of Perception, James Edie (ed.), Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 1971, 180.

81 Blaise Cendrars,Complete Poems, op. cit., 265.

82 Blaise Cendrars, “Why is the ‘Cube’ Disintegrating ?,” in Edward Fry,Cubism, London, Thames and Hudson, 1978, 156.

83 Blaise Cendrars, “L’ABC du Cinéma,” Œuvres complètes, 8 vol., Paris, Denoël, 1960-1965, vol. 4, 162.

84 Idem.

85 See, for example, David Bennett, “Periodical Fragments and Organic Culture : Modernism, the Avant-Garde, and the Little Magazine,” Contemporary Literature, XXX, 4, 1989, 480, 485.

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