Surrealpolitik: Psychedelic Art

Authors: Jean Houston, R.E.L. Masters

New York: Grove Press (1968)

Quick Summary

Psychedelic art reprints with accompanying text, some of which compares and contrasts psychedelia and surrealism.


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Surrealism was exclusive; psychedelic art is inclusive; it does not withdraw from the external world but rather affirms the value of inwardness as complementary awareness. The aim of psychedelic experience is to expand the consciousness so that it can be a consciousness of more. Unlike surrealism, psychedelic art makes a basic tenet of spiritual harmony with the universe. Psychedelic art is not antagonistic to the religious art of the past and does not find its affinities with daemonic and heretical art as such. It is more mature than surrealism in declining to equate the beautiful with the bizarre. It has no fascination with madness or the hallucinations of madness. It seeks out the images and other phenomena to be found in the depths of the normal expanded mind. It shares with surrealism, and much other art, the intent to shock the viewer into a transformed awareness.

Where surrealism is magical, psychedelic art would be scientific in its approach to "mind." It also would be religious and mystical and finds no incongruity between being all these things; in fact, it might be called a scientific-religious or mystical-scientific art. In some ways more naive than surrealism, psychedelic art has yet to work its way through a kind of childish wonder at the realities uncovered in the altered states. Particularly, psychedelic art tends to be naive in its metaphysical outlook and in its religious and mystical awareness. These are generally shallow and rather primitive. Barry Schwartz calls psychedelic art "the surrealism of the technological age." This is true if we understand that psychedelics, with technology, have worked a transvaluation of many of surrealism's concerns. (page 97)
Tags: [Surrealism, Psychedelia]