Maurice Vlaminck from Disobey (1936)
Comfortable houses. Escalators. Water, gas, electricity on every floor. Sewers. Subways. Cars. There’s nothing more to do. Everything works by itself. Even thinking! We have the radio and the newspaper: they keep us from thinking and know ahead of time what we have to say. We have our opinions prefabricated, fit to size, like fabric sold by the yard.
We are fed before we have eaten. We arrive without walking. We have love without the pain or pleasure of loving.
We don’t have to pay to laugh. We don’t even know how to cry anymore.
And despite this mechanical, electric life, we are scared to die and talk about happiness.
Why talk about hygiene, about living longer, when modern warfare, instead of the old choleras and plagues, makes millions of us disappear?
What is more boring and sadder to see than a breeding ground where all the trees are of the same species, lined up in parallel rows? But what beauty, what grandeur does a forest emanate! The implacable injustice that comes out of it represents a sovereign truth.
The League of Nations. The Conference on Disarmament: a team of engineers and technicians who imagine that by bolting a cover on this huge cauldron we call the World, it won’t blow up, even if they leave it burning in the inferno of factories.
A European war would certainly spell the end of western civilization. A war is not desirable, of course! But the end of this mechanized civilization with all the degradation it carries, wouldn’t it be a benefit for Man?
In times of slavery, the captives aspired to be free. In 1936, age of progress and science, all that men hope for is the right to be shut up for 40 hours a week to work like an idiot!