Friday, January 10, 2014

The New Age, Dec. 18 1913

A quick rewind to pick up a dropped stitch: I skipped posting about some issues of The New Age last December.

This issue, though, has just been mentioned in the book I'm currently reading, Wallace Martin's 1967 The New Age Under Orage. Martin notices a significant moment in the issue during his discussion of Orage's editorial methods. Here's what Martin says:

"Occasionally he commented on the proportion of the magazine devoted to each aspect of culture and indicated the balance that he hoped to achieve. In 1913, to cite one instance, he editorially sought contributors who could keep the magazine informed of recent developments in science, an Italian literary correspondent (there were regular contributors responsible for nearly all of the other languages of Europe), and someone with "a talent for expository philosophy" (42).

That seemed significant enough to track down, especially as it fell within my time-space.

I'll focus this post on Orage's "Readers and Writers" column and correlating it to Martin.

First, the part of the column quoted by Martin comes as the final section of a very large "Readers and Writers" that covers everything from futurist formal poetics to Yeats' relationship to Tagore (I'll summarize both in a moment). At the end, Orage's appeal to his readers is more complicated than editorially seeking contributors. He first buffs TNA by pointing out that its financial situation (being supported by patronage) has allowed it to give its contributors the freedom to select what they publish, augmenting that by tantalizingly mentioning that several recent columns have grown out of correspondence. I look somewhat askance at this because the magazine thrives off of printing controversial correspondence, often written by wingnuts.

After that, check out his advice on how a contributor should choose their contribution. After saying that the magazine has needs for contributors, he writes:

"To enumerate these needs it would be necesary in our own case to number the lacunae in THE NEW AGE as a journal of universal ideas; in short, to attempt the impossible. Contributors, however, have a good criterion in the specific contrast between what the journal would be if they were conducting it and what it is. Surely such a comparison should stimulate creative suggestion" (210).

He invites his contributors to create fantasy-New Ages, to put themselves in an imaginary editorship, and then invites them to try to make it happen. That's pretty cool. It also strikes a likeness between the reader, the correspondent, the contributor, and the editor, a coinage that allows for easier transactions between each group (an alternative economy).

Martin doesn't note that Orage is asking, but I don't think he gets what he asks for. The proportions are set, some lacunae identified, but they remain unfilled (as of early Jan 1914).

Ok: Tagore and Yeats, according to Orage: Yeats promoted Tagore as a kind of self-flattery, knowing that any glory accrued by Tagore would find its way back to him. But both are just passing fads: "The indecent debauch is now over or nearly over, and one by one the victims of Mr. Yeats’ frenzy will awake to discover that their discovery was illusory" (209).

Futurist form: Orage reports on a lecture by Henry Newbolt entitled "Futurism and Form in Poetry." The relevant chunk: They imagine that the old forms are incapable of expressing the modern ideas and should be broken up and replaced by new forms... [which] is wrong; for form and ideas are not separable in art but only in logic... Mr. Newbolt attacked the Futurists on the ground that they regard form as an ornament, a decorative superfluity to be expunged, a worse heresy... Thankfully, the result of heresy is ugliness" (209).

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