THE MANIFESTO, ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ACTS OF REBELLION
Visiting the greatest manifestos of all time could help us create our own, crystalizing our own values and principles.
The word “manifesto”, from the Greek root manifestum, refers to something that is clear, evident, while its practice is an open declaration of one’s values, motives and intent. Above all, however, a manifesto is an act of rebellion. It emphasizes the contrast between the principles it specifically states and the truth of the rest. By defying our assumptions, promoting commitment and stimulating change, a manifesto is a means that brings together the person we are and the person we could be in the future.
To mention but a few amid the most notable examples of manifestos penned throughout history (in their sociopolitical contexts), we find the Communist Manifesto, by Marx and Engels: that great spectre that keeps haunting not only Europe but the world. On the other hand, we have the Cartagena Manifesto, written by Simon Bolivar within the context of the Colombian and Venezuelan independences, which is a fine example of absolute change and rebellion.
Influenced by the artistic or philosophic currents that emerged at the same time, cinema has also been prone to the creation of countless manifestos. The most representative among them, due to their ethics, popularity or aesthetics, are: Werner Herzog’s Minnesota Declaration, which rebels against what is known as Cinema Verité, and where he proposes a more poetic way of making films. Similarly, the renowned Dogma 95 by Lars Von Trier and Tomas Vintenberg, which proposes, among other premises, a “chastity vow”: an austere filming process, only relying on what is indispensable and at hand.
In painting, perhaps the most fertile field for manifestos, we find the Surrealist, Dadaist and Futurist manifestos, as well as the marvelous Blast Manifesto —a British document that marked the beginning of Modernism in art and literature. In addition to being an exquisite list of principles written in a confusingly poetic fashion, the latter was a collaborative work by Ezra Pound and T.S. Elliot.
Fortunately, this practice is still wildly popular. The Hardware Hacker Manifesto is an example of this, a call to study and understand the modus operandi of the devices and programs we use today. Another instance is RIP, A Remix Manifesto, a documentary that proposes working not with copyrights, but instead with “copyleft” –promoting the free distribution of works and their modified versions. Incidentally, both of these engage in a virtual dialogue with the information of our era.
The manifesto is a type of protest and provocative narrative genre in itself, an ideal tool to enrich our personal or collective existential history, a resource which forces us to take responsibility for our actions and words, while it also strengthens our stance and identity. In this sense, the manifesto is, or should be, a history of genuine coherence —perhaps the most important quality of a rebellious spirit.
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