Painting by the Futurist Tullio Crali: Nose-diving on the City, 1939
The future begins with a crash. In 1908 the novice driver Filippo Tommaso Marinetti looses control over his machine. A joyride in his open sports car comes to a grinding halt in a ditch near Milano. The accident was not his fault (of course), but that of two cyclists, who, with their petty muscle powered vehicles, had dared to come into the way of progress itself, embodied by the poet and his hundred mechanical horses. Marinetti is only slightly injured, but the sudden interruption of his speed-rush unfolds a catalytic process on his thinking and inspires him to write the Futurist Manifesto. On February 20, 1909, after a few hardly noticed earlier releases of the manifesto in Italy, Marinetti buys himself into the front page of Le Figaro, and thus finally reaches the necessary critical mass:
We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath … a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.