Surrealpolitik: Paris Peasant

Author: Louis Aragon

Boston: Exact Change (1994, first published in 1926)

Quick Summary

A surrealist work that is often referred to as a novel or an anti-novel although it is actually just not a novel at all but a bunch of dreamy rambling about the Arcades, very much as himself. Occasionally beautiful and not infrequently tedious. A source of inspiration for Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project.


There are 17 quotes currently associated with this book.

And yet, can the knowledge deriving from reason even begin to compare with knowledge perceptible by sense? No doubt the number of people crass enough to rely exclusively on the former and scorn the latter are sufficient in themselves to explain the disfavour into which everything deriving from the senses has gradually fallen. But when the most scholarly of men have taught me that light is a vibration, or have calculated its wavelengths for me, or offered me any other fruits of their labours of reasoning, they will still not have rendered me an account of what is important to me about light, of what my eyes have begun to teach me about it, of what makes me different from a blind man -- things which are the stuff of miracles, not subject matter for reasoning. (page 9)
Tags: [Surrealism's Promise, Truth & Real, Rationality]
I no longer wish to refrain from the errors of my fingers, the errors of my eyes. I know now that these errors are not just booby traps but curious paths leading towards a destination that they alone can reveal to me. There are strange flowers of reason to match each error of the senses. Admirable gardens of absurd beliefs, forebodings, obsessions and frenzies. Unknown, ever-changing gods take shape there...It is a knowledge, a science of life open only to those who have no training in it. (page 10)
Tags: [Surrealism's Promise, Rationality]
First there is Marcel Noll, who brought with him from Strasbourg to Paris last year an enormous capacity to promote confusion, a quality which I find entirely admirable. (page 16)
Tags: [Surrealism's Promise]
Once upon a time there was a reality
Who never could get to sleep at night
And so her fairy godmother
Really took her by the hand
The re the re the reality
(page 56)
Tags: [Rationality]
The simple hearts of architects are free of all perversity. (page 57)
Tags: [Rationality]
Oh God of hell, why do the whores who kill time here sing softly to themselves as they caress the cracked marble of the tabletops? (page 59)
Tags: [Surrealism]
How mankind loves to remain transfixed at the very doors of the imagination! This prisoner would dearly love to escape, but he hesitates on the threshold of possibilities, dreading that he may find he has stepped on to a rampart walk leading back to its own casemate. He has been taught the mechanism of the logical sequence of ideas, and the poor fellow has assumed that his ideas are connected. So he justifies his reason and his delirium by means of delirious reasoning. (page 60)
Tags: [Surrealism, Rationality]
The trouble is that you fail to appreciate the limitless strength of the unreal. Your imagination, my dear fellow, is worth more than you imagine. (page 61)
Tags: [Surrealism, Truth & Real, Rationality]
[F]rom one illusion to another you end up repeatedly at the mercy of the illusion Reality. And yet I have given you everything: the blue of the sky, the Pyramids, motorcars. Why should you lose faith in my magic lantern? (page 64)
Tags: [Truth & Real, Rationality]
The telephone is supposed to be useful, but of course it is nothing of the kind: see how man is seized with convulsions as he screams Hello! into his receiver. What is he but an addict of the dope called sound, dead-drunk with conquered space and the transmitted voice? (page 64)
Tags: [Rationality]
I announce to the world this momentous news item: a new vice has just been born, man has acquired one more source of vertigo -- Surrealism, off spring of frenzy and darkness. Walk up, walk up, this is the entrance to the realms of the instantaneous, the world of snapshot. Modern hashish eaters, you will have no cause to envy the awakened sleepers of the thousand and one nights, the miraculously healed, the convulsionaries, when, without even an instrument in your hands, you find yourselves evoking the hitherto incomplete gamut of their rapturous pleasures, and when you assume over the world such visionary power, ranging from the invention to the glaucous materialization of the slippery gleams of the waking state, that neither reason nor the instinct of self-preservation, despite their beautiful white hands, could prevent you from using this power unreservedly, casting a spell over yourselves by piercing the mortal cross-piece of your heart not with a pin but with an enchanting image...The vice named Surrealism is the immoderate and impassioned use of the superfacient image, or rather of the uncontrolled provocation of the image for its sake and for the element of unpredictable perturbation and of metamorphosis which it introduces into the domain of representation: for each image on each occasion forces you to revise the entire Universe. (page 65)
Tags: [Surrealism, Surrealism's Promise]
Then the persecuted surrealists will be found in cafés chantants, taking advantage of the confusion to peddle their recipes for infecting images. An attitude, a reflex action, a sudden betrayal of irritability on the part of certain customers will suffice for them to be suspected of surrealism by the police who are keeping them under observation. I can already visualize the law's agents provocateurs with their wiles and their tarps. The right of individuals to forge their own destiny will yet again be restricted and challenged. Public peril will be invoked, or the general interest, or even the preservation of humanity itself...Young people will plunge passionately into this serious, unprofitable game. It will pervert the course of their lives. The Faculties will be deserted, the laboratories closed down. The very idea of armies, families, professions will become inconceivable. Then, in the face of this ever-increasing disaffection of social life, a great conspiracy of all the dogmatic and realist forces of the world will be organized against the phantom of illusions. It will win... (page 66)
Tags: [Surrealism, Activism, Surrealism's Promise, Surrealism & Politics, Culture, Capitalism, Rationality]
We have not directed our critical faculties sufficiently to the problem of the role played by bar and café owners: yet they are people who make a very real contribution to the maintenance of true civilization. (page 81)
Tags: [Culture]
Having no heart for broad jokes, I find it inconceivable that anyone should visit a brothel except alone and in absolute gravity. (page 106)
Tags: [Culture]
I failed to recognize the gods in the street, so weighed down was I by my precarious truth, not realizing that truth of any kind could only reach me in those places to which I had already carried error. I had not understood that myth is above all a reality, and a spiritual necessity, that it is the path of the conscious, its conveyor belt...The man sick with logic: distrusting deified hallucinations, I defied this deification. (page 113)
Tags: [Myth]
There is an essentially modern tragic symbol: it is a sort of large wheel which is spinning and which is no longer being steered by a hand. (page 118)
Tags: [Culture, Rationality]
[Quoting G.K. Chesterton:] A madman is not a man who has lost his reason: he is a man who has lost everything except his reason. (page 202)
Tags: [Rationality, Lead Quote Candidate]