in my view, the first expression of a human manifesto we can observe is the screaming of an angry little child for not getting enough love, food or playtime. having said that, i can say that we are bound to live our lives based on inner manifestos, whether we want to or not. whether we manage to externalize this is another story entirely.
i cannot say that there has been any historical manifesto in existence that has had a direct impact on my life, though some have certainly done so indirectly. the human rights declaration is one such manifesto. because of it, i am aware of my rights in this world, which provides me with a sense of security and tranquillity.
when i was little my father said to me: “read good books my son, read them, they can save your life". that was a very strong statement for me, indeed - to the extent that i can call it a personal manifesto. looking back today, i can see how writing did work and is still working in very powerful ways in my individual life and in those of others.
to illustrate this i will talk about a book that i have just read, “a mercy” by toni morrison.
she writes the following line in her novel: “to be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing.” i believe this statement can become a very personal manifesto. here is one idea of just how well it can achieve this. we as humans are still learning not to abuse others and ourselves, or further allowing others to do so. this book is so well written that i see it as a real aesthetic accomplishment. her writing style is typically like that of a sculptor - carving meaning in every line she writes.
i shall never forget the first time i watched an interview that she gave some years ago at the i_c_a in london. in the interview she was asked why she started writing and which writers inspired her the most.
to the first question she responded that she started to write because she could not find the books out there that she wished to read. her response to the second query was that most of her inspirations came from old masters, not the ones from the literature world, but from the art realm instead. she was able to work the subject matter that she wanted to reveal, into an object that gives her readers the beautiful combination of both visual and literarily pleasures. one could say she uses her blank pages as canvases and her pen as her brush. she pulls out a lot of questions on the historical doings of humans in relation to basic humans rights and of the need to rewrite our history. is because the style of her writing and the reasons why toni morrison writes that her works has the potential of become a manifesto.
the link below is to a video of toni morisson in which she tells of her motivation for writing.
similar to my own experience, manifestos today are more of an individual issue. is more likely that you will create your own manifesto or mantra. how important it becomes to you and whether you actually follow its principles, depends only on the kinds of decisions you make for your life.
the link below is to one of my favorites manifestos ever, the "draft manifesto of antinational situationist".