Friday, November 09, 2012

Grounded at Ardmore


We are on the extreme promontory of the centuries! We are already living in the absolute, since we have already created eternal, omnipresent speed. We want to glorify war — the only cure for the world...We will sing the gliding flight of aeroplanes whose propeller sounds like the flapping of a flag...we will put an end to the seemingly indomitable hostility that separates our human flesh from the metal of engines. After the animal kingdom, the mechanical kingdom begins! 

- from The Futurist Manifesto, 1909, and an additional statement by Marinetti, 1912

That ordinary midweek Ardmore winter night,
air-to-air combat film, all camera gun stuff,
no sound of course, no commentary,
just one clip spliced on to another,
Name of pilot, date, Type of (target) aircraft.
Poor quality film, visibility impaired.
When fire was opened synchronised camera jumped
spastically. studio simulation does the job 
much better.
                   An ME 109 came into sight,
pursued through evasive tactics making use
of cloud. He knew he’d someone on his tail
before the screen began to jump,
ranging bursts.
                        In cloud, and out, swung
then pulled back climbing on a curve
off-screen. Which steadied, like a postulate.
Held, a moment long enough, you felt
a prediction coming true, it came
from top right headed lower left,
dead on course to centre screen
which jumped again, erupted. That was
all.
     People talk about inevitability
of the work of art. This was
inevitable, purpose purely stated,
then complete. A kinetic art,
like ballet? Language as gesture?
                                                  That night
the huntsman, not aware beforehand, was
in the audience. He had to take a lot of barracking.
"Come on," he protested, "lay off, eh. It’s a bit 
blush-making, isn’t it? It’s not like rhubarb."
Rhubarb was then a technical term.

- from Kendrick Smithyman's 'Silent Movies'

5 Comments:

Blogger me said...

Oh goody I am the first aeroplane nerd to point out that that it is a Bf109, not an Me109. One of the things that you learn from reading commando comics, and never forget.
mark

10:22 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Hi Mark,

I was a war comics kid too, and yet I'm lost with all that letters and numbers for vehicles stuff! I think that the plane at Ardmore might be the WW2 freighter shown here:
http://rnzaf.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=Airshows&action=display&thread=11951&page=2

It looked quite handsome in its day! It now sits decaying behind an exceptionally ugly old barracks building.

Smithyman was doing basic training in artillery at Ardmore when he briefly became excited at the prospect of flying - did the quasi-Futurist film he describes in 'Silent Movies' inspire him? - and asked to be transferred to the air force. He served as a storeman with an air force contingent on Norfolk Island, before being invalided out of the army due to the severe piles he had developed serving his nation...

5:50 am  
Blogger Richard said...

I think the ME109 is Messerschmidt fighter (similar to a spitfire) which they had no doubt "mocked up" for training film.
The pursuer is ragged because of the "spasticality" of his camera's view?

I was puzzled by the last line but here is this from Google.

"Rhubarb - RAF code used in the European theatre for a low-level strike operation mounted in cloudy conditions against enemy targets in Occupied Countries"

Was Smithyman thinking of Brechtian* theatre or maybe he didn't know of it then?

How is it "futuristic"? In Smithyman's obvious delight in it all? The clever lines are:

'...In cloud, and out, swung
then pulled back climbing on a curve
off-screen. Which steadied, like a postulate...'

The whole thing or the loops and movement leading to a "denouement" are sometimes like the postulations of an argument or debate - as in a Socratic dialogue or whatever.

'...like a postulate..' !!

A typically clever, ambiguous, and strange poem by Smithyman

*In 1968 I recall Sebastian Black waxing lyrical about Brecht, Osborne, Wesker and probably Beckett. Particularly Brecht and his alienation or the involvement of the audience...

11:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My next door neighbour told me (a Pacific WW2 pilot) nobody ever argued about designations in the air. I think if the Germans called it both, we can too 75 years later.

Originally the aircraft was designated as Bf 109 by the RLM, since the design was submitted by the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (literally "Bavarian Aircraft Factory").

The company was renamed Messerschmitt AG after 11 July 1938 when Erhard Milch finally allowed Willy Messerschmitt to acquire the company.

All Messerschmitt aircraft that originated after that date, such as the Me 210, were to carry the "Me" designation.

Despite regulations by the RLM, wartime documents from Messerschmitt AG, RLM and Luftwaffe loss and strength reports continued to use both designations, sometimes even on the same page.

From Wikipedia

10:52 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a plane. Doh.

3:35 pm  

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