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There were 290 results from your search for keyword(s): 'Surrealism'.
- "I have to see this through. It's how I am. I like to be on the edge of the territory."
"The horizon of the real," I whispered.
Alice and I were the same size. We displaced the same amount of air. But when we embraced she became elusive and darting, like a remora fish. When I held her I imagined that I could crane my neck and kiss the small of her back, or reach around to clasp my own shoulders in my hands.
Source: As She Climbed Across the Table, p. 12
- "I help them understand it," she said. "They can make their own choices. The goal is to develop an awareness, from inside, of how dual cognitive systems form, how they function, how they respond to hostile or contradictory data. Threats to stability, inequal growth by one member. Cognitive dissonance. I'm sure these concepts are familiar."
Source: As She Climbed Across the Table, p. 87-88
- "I realize this sounds weird, but Biller lives in the air space behind Perkus's kitchen...part of the time, at least."
Source: Chronic City, p. 123
- "I shall not live long," he had said: "in no one of my dreams can I see myself old I shall not live long not more than 250 pages": he had said and (suddenly (dazzledly) as one rising from (is it the Seine this long blue laughing?) from the water's depth into shattering sunlight he (thrusting up through the perfume of some unknown woman's hair her body sweeter far than he) found himself) sitting there and:
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 134-135
- "I should like," Huddleberry was saying, "I should like to write a detective story -- a mystery story...But one in which no one should know what crime had been committed -- nor who had committed it..."
"That's true of all crimes, isn't it, rather?" asked Charles and watched himself inject a careless laugh, like a hypodermic, into the man's mind. But:
"No one...There should be a dream quality about it all..." His eye lighted; a rising enthusiasm informed his customarily level tones and he waved his long thin hands in wider gestures -- "A dream quality, yes; a brooding sense of Something -- no one quite knowing what -- but Something dread, and menacing, and terrible. A Something that sets all the boasted power of civilization at naught --," he raised his hand as Charles gave evidence of being about to speak, "--at naught, and mocks the puny strength of men..."
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 142
- "Men, women, statesmen, courtesans, plotters...and yet, in the mind of each the dread questions are constantly impending -- 'What is it that threatens?' -- 'And for whom?' -- 'If Death, then who shall be the victim?' -- 'Who the murderer?' -- 'Where the scene of the tragedy?' -- 'Shall it be I who will strike the fatal blow?' -- 'Or shall I receive it?' ..."
He paused again, staring dramatically at the corner of the ceiling. "And the end -- dramatic, inevitable, but veiled in mystery....'Was there a murder?' -- 'Who was the victim?' -- they shall ask, my characters. And as each sinks shudderingly to sleep -- 'Was it I who killed, last night as I thought I slept?' -- 'Am I, even now, am I dead?'... Ah! Yes! It shall be my greatest work, that. It would go well in the American Mercury, don't you think?"
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 144-145
- "There's a chocolate smell everywhere in the city right now. Has been for days. You must have noticed."
"Oh, that," he said, smirking unhappily. "I guess I have heard it described that way, but no, I don't smell any chocolate. For me it's coming in more as kind of high-pitched whining sound."
"What are you talking about?"
"Just what I said, Chase. For you it's a chocolate smell, for me, a ringing in my ears. On and off for three days now. Can we just forget about it, please? It kept me up practically all night last night."
Source: Chronic City, p. 210
- "Wait here till I get the morning editions," said the stranger. They were full of all the details about the Nine Prominent Critics Die By X-Ray Bullet, and it went on to relate how reason shuddered when the city waked up today to find that such men as Harry Hansen, William Soskin, Heywood Broun, Bruce Gould, Waldo Frank, Henry Seidl Canby, Asa Huddleberry and James Thurber and George Jean Nathan were made the victims of a dastardly attack late last night and the police were hopelessly at sea because no motive could be imagined for the murders unless by the Communists from Moscow. The stranger looked worried. Then his brow cleared.
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 165-166
- "[T]his is my lucky night, I tell you, this is my lucky night!"
And by dint of repeating these words in a piercing tone, increasing in shrillness each time, he [Rodas] seemed to transform the night into a black tambourine decorated with gold bells; to be shaking hands with invisible friends in the wind, and inviting the puppet-master of the Cathedral Porch and his marionettes to come and tickle his throat till he burst out laughing. He laughed and he laughed, and tried out a few dance steps with his hands in his waistcoat pockets, and then his laugh suddenly died and became a groan and his happiness turned to pain. He doubled up to protect his mouth against his stomach's revolt. He was suddenly silent. His laughter hardened in his mouth like the plaster dentists use for their models. He had caught sight of the Zany.
Source: El Senor Presidente, p. 49
- 'It is here somewhere,' the Sergeant said, 'or beside a place somewhere near the next place adjacent.'
Source: The Third Policeman, p. 110
- 'It was a joke -- for the benefit of my brother-in-law who came to visit me. I brought some baby clothes and put them out on the line. He obviously thought i had a girl living with me. I only put them out a few times after that. I told my brother-in-law that I did it to keep women from bothering me with offers of domestic care. As they do. They would assume, you see, that there was a woman. I suppose I'm an eccentric. It was a gesture.'
'Well, you might say,' said Harvey, thinking fast how to say it, 'that it was a surrealistic gesture.'
Source: The Only Problem, p. 395
- 'This Stilettoed Eel is terrific,' said Chick. 'Where did you get the idea from?'
'Nicolas had it,' said Colin. 'There's an eel -- or there was an eel, rather -- that used to go into his wash-basin every day through the cold-water tap.'
'What a funny thing to do,' said Chick. 'Why did it do that?'
'It used to pop its head out and empty the toothpaste by squeezing the tube with its teeth. Nicolas only uses that American brand with the pineapple flavor, and I don't think it could resist the temptation.'
Source: Froth on the Daydream, p. 17
- 'To win the energies of intoxication for the revolution' -- in other words, poetic politics? 'We have tried that beverage. Anything, rather than that!' Well, it will interest you all the more how much an excursion into poetry clarifies things. For what is the programme of the bourgeois parties? A bad poem on springtime, filled to bursting with metaphors. The socialist sees that 'finer future of our children and grandchildren' in a condition in which all act 'as if they were angels', and everyone has as much 'as if he were rich', and everyone lives 'as if he were free'. Of angels, wealth, freedom, not a trace. These are mere images. And the stock imagery of these poets of the social-democratic associations? Their gradus ad parnassum? Optimism...Surrealism has come ever closer to the Communist answer. And that means pessimism all along the line. Absolutely.
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 55
- Down Below is as much a work of paranoiac theory as a memoir of Carrington's nervous illness; its paranoia is characterized not only by its unconscious production of symptoms (interpretive delirium, persecution mania) but also by its auto-analysis and its self-conscious ties to surrealist discourse...Indeed, Carrington's narrative of "inner experience" is in dialogue with the writings on paranoia that form a central part of surrealist thinking in the 1930s and again in the mid-1940s...[and] show Carrington in the process of redirecting paranoiac theory toward contemporary surrealist thinking about collective social myths.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 218
- How to write, except as a usually chaste woman getting undressed for an orgy?
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 100
- Nadja has achieved the true, creative synthesis between the art novel and the roman-à-clef.
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 49
- More ethical than utopian, surrealist writing and art are at once endlessly playful -- dismembered, self-reflexive, allusive -- and deadly serious. Dislodged from its rationalist claim to define and describe existing appearances, surrealist verbal and visual language constitutes a new form of materialism that entered instead into the more contested realm of thinking. That is, as language described by Maurice Blanchot as "rhetoric become matter," it does not so much state as refract, rearrange, delve, and surpass its own claims...[T]he rifts, disagreements, and exclusions through which surrealism consistently reinvented itself reflect the volatility of a movement bent on challenging the silent pacts that guarantee reality as a verifiable set of givens. At the same time, the outbursts of crime and terror animating surrealist work draw attention to the ways in which violent historical phenomena likewise throw into relief the conflicting systems of representation and understanding used to make sense of them. As a lens for political analysis, the varied public and institutional responses to crime -- from the measurement systems of Bertillon cards to the splashy sensationalism of the penny press -- could certainly be used to problematize the limits and excesses of the immediate cultural order...Approached in this way, crime discourse could do more than reflect contemporary social and political systems; it could form the very language through which the historical forces governing these systems might be rendered concrete.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 12-13
- A pamphlet published on 7 June 1947 by the Revolutionary Surrealists, a dissident Belgian group, had issue a salutary warning to the movement as a whole...:
Landlords, crooks, Druids, poseurs, all your efforts have been in vain: we persist in relying on SURREALISM in our quest to bring the universe and desire INTO ALIGNMENT...First and foremost, we guarantee that Surrealism will no longer serve as a standard for the vainglorious, nor as a springboard for the devious, nor as a Delphic oracle; it will no longer be the philosopher's stone of the distracted, the battleground of the timid, the pastime of the lazy, the intellectualism of the impotent, the draft of blood of the "poet" or the draft of wine of the littérateur.
But, as though to give the true measure of their protest, and certainly exemplifying the grotesquerie which would thenceforward dog Surrealism in its dotage, the aforesaid signatories declared without further ado that they placed their entire faith in the Communist Party!
Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 32
- A second secret element is the clandestine headquarters, which should consist of a 'tiny number of men' who were willing and prepared to undertake 'more or less concerted action' (Mariën, 1989: 67). As a first task, the group should produce a basic liquid capital required for initiating the campaign. To this purpose, Mariën’s (1989) envisages 'real' terrorist acts:
"[T]he single opportunity to procure that money obviously consists in getting it there, where it is. [...] A blade against the throat, the threat of some Asian torture as well as hostage-taking would make each bank manager a precious and entirely compliant auxiliary tool. [...] Employees and customers [...] are not at all prepared to resist the onslaught of machine pistols, hand grenades, teargas or, if necessary, flamethrowers." (pp.122, 127)
Source: Surrealistic communication as symbolic terrorism: The example of Marcel Mariën’s theory of political campaigning, p. 197
- A slush of silence waded over the Park after the passing of a Fifth Avenue bus. To fling to the moment passing birdie he was fumbling for a dutiful crumb of thought: he had plenty to think about as (glistering like listerine) a page from an old newspaper swished rattling along the path.
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 120-121
- A strange wind was blowing across the plain of his silence, where a wild vegetation was growing, as thirsty as tearless eyelashes, as thirsty as prickly cactuses, as thirsty as trees unrefreshed by rain. What was the meaning of this desire? Why should trees be thirsty when it rains?
Source: El Senor Presidente, p. 70
- According to Eluard, Sade's writings offer a dialectics of their own, wherein the liberation of appetites functions as a critique of the moral and social laws that police them. This critique in turn demanded a broader conception of liberation as an upheaval of the ideological structures that govern human experience, and no longer simply as an exercise of bodily appetites.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 145
- After detours in many different directions, we are right back to Dali's notion of paranoia as a (delusional) style of interpretation. And so we alight one final time on the twin themes of proof and existence, delusion and reality. A shiver -- the willies -- is predicated on the suspension of certainty, or more accurately, the possibility of the existence of the uncanny as real. It is a rational interpretation of random occurrences ("objectifying facts") based on a delusional hypothesis. It is strangely reminiscent of the Paranoid-Critical Method. It is the possibility of a real, built by the rational, anchored by the delusional.
From chapter: Jamer Hunt, Paranoid, Critical, Methodical, Dali, Koolhaas, and...
Source: Paranoia Within Reason: A Casebook on Conspiracy as Explanation, p. 29
- All physicians are of one mind in recognizing the swiftness and inconceivable subtlety commonly found in paranoiacs, who, taking advantage of associations and facts so refined as to escape normal people, reach conclusions that often cannot be contradicted or rejected and that in any case nearly always defy psychological analysis.
Source: The Rotting Donkey, p. 257
- All this may have been a collective hallucination although nobody has yet explained to me what a collective hallucination actually means. The monstrous Queen Bee slowly revolved over the water, beating her crystalline wings so rapidly that they emitted a pale light. As she faced me I was thrilled to notice a sudden strange resemblance to the Abbess. At that moment she closed one eye, as big as a tea cup, in a prodigious wink.
Source: The Hearing Trumpet, p. 117
- An activity having a moral tendency could be provoked by the violently paranoiac will to systematize confusion.
Source: The Rotting Donkey, p. 257
- An eye was travelling over the fingers of his right hand like the circle of light from an electric bulb. From the little finger to the middle finger, thence to the ring finger, from ring finger to index, from index to thumb. An eye...A single eye. He could feel it throbbing. He tried to crush it by closing his hand hard, till his nails sank into his flesh. But it was impossible; when he opened his hand, there it was again on his fingers, no bigger than a bird's heart and more horrifying than Hell. Beads of hot sweat, like beef broth, broke out on his forehead. Who was looking at him with this eye, which rested on his fingers and jumped about like the ball of a roulette wheel to the rhythm of a funeral knell?
Source: El Senor Presidente, p. 57-58
- And I think that restlessness is rarely torrential, and yet...the desired designation could never lend itself to so free a shape. To connect it, as André Breton has done, to certain freedoms of expression, certainly had more than one advantage; and automatic writing was more than a petty provocation. Insubordination, if not extended to the domain of images and words, is still no more than a refusal of external forms (such as the government or the police) when ordered words and images are entrusted to us by a system which, one thing leading to another, causes the entirety of nature to be submitted to utility. Belief -- or, rather, servitude to the real world -- is, without the shadow of a doubt, fundamental to all servitude. I cannot consider someone free if they do not have the desire to sever the bonds of language within themselves. It does not follow, however, that it is enough to escape for a moment the empire of words to have pushed as far as possible not to subordinate what we are to anything.
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 49
- And no face is surrealistic in the same degree as the true face of a city.
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 51
- Angel Face took no notice of these festive preparations. He had to see the general and make plans for his flight. Everything seemed easy until the dogs began barking at him in the monstrous wood which separated the President from his enemies, a wood made up of trees with ears which responded to the slightest sound by whirling as if blown by a hurricane. Not the tiniest noise for miles around could escape the avidity of those millions of membranes. The dogs went on barking. A network of invisible threads, more invisible than telegraph wires, connected every leaf with the President, enabling him to keep watch on the most secret thoughts of the townspeople.
Source: El Senor Presidente, p. 39
- Anubeth growled and reached up to get a very strange animal from the ceiling for my inspection. It was a tortoise with a baby's wizened face and long thin legs which were frozen in a gallop. "Anubeth says that this kind of collage she made for fun when the keeper of the principal morgues in Venice gave her the present of a dead baby. The legs originally belonged to some storks that died of the cold. It really is very clever. I sometimes wonder if she ought to paint. I am sure she has talent."
Source: The Hearing Trumpet, p. 152
- Apollinaire managed never to define surrealism precisely, preferring to describe it in abstract terms of via a tautological system of synonyms. Fortunately, it is possible to give an exact definition. Based on empirical evidence, in addition to his own testimony, Apollinaire's surrealism consists of two components: 1) surprise and 2) analogical parallels to reality. These in turn correspond to the traditional opposition between form and content. In its simplest form, surrealism may be defined as one or more surprising analogies based on reality. Typically, these are assigned an important structural role in the work in which they appear.
Source: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, p. 201
- Aragon's increasing orthodoxy would culminate in his break with the movement in 1932, following the legal and intellectual fracas surrounding the publication of his propagandistic poem "Red Front" in 1931. Conversely, the resistance to orthodoxy expressed by writers and artists such as Crevel, Dali, Breton, Giacometti, and Tzara signified an unflagging commitment to revolutionizing intellectual as well as social conditions. Whereas Sadoul and Aragon would emphasize the literal, institutional complicity of the popular media with police work, these other surrealists would instead stress ideological complicity as the target of revolutionary labor. Drawing on Breton's call, in the Second Manifesto, for surrealist activity to prompt a rise de la conscience -- meaning both a crisis of conscience and a crisis in consciousness -- there emerged a counter-Stalinist tendency in 1930s surrealism, which would insist on the Sadean pursuit of revolutionary action on the ideological front, and not merely on the social front. This meant an interrogation of the most intimate structures of human consciousness, pursued not in opposition to organized political action but as an extension and a possible modality of it.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 160
- Are not our powers of speech essentially responsible for the mediocrity of our universe?...[A]ll these worn-out truisms...have kept us so firmly planted in our run-of-the-mill world. It is they that have given us this taste for money, these crippling fears, this "love of country," this disgust for our destiny. I do not think it is too late to reexamine the deceptions that are part and parcel of the words we have so far misused. What keeps me from scrambling the order of words, thereby making an attempt on the sham life of things? Language can and must be set free from its bondage. No more descriptions from nature, no more studies of manners and morals. Let there be silence so that I might tread where no man has ever trodden, silence! -- After you, my fair language.
Source: Introduction to the Discourse on the Paucity of Reality, p. 141
- As Breton writes, Soupault too had explored such ways of instigating a "conversation with the unknown" through a similarly decided strategy of random strikes. Breton continues: "Similarly, in 1919 Soupault went into any number of impossible buildings to ask the concierge whether Philippe Soupault did in fact live there. He would not have been surprised, I suspect, by an affirmative reply. He would have gone and knocked on his door." The results of this investigation are irrelevant, except insofar as they produce the opportunities that create an environment whereby, in Walter Benjamin's words, "every square inch of our cities" is a crime scene and "every passer-by a culprit."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 48
- As early as 1919 the surrealist group began to follow contemporary murder cases with a growing attention to the ways in which such crimes challenged accepted categories of public order, motive, and criminal taxonomy. Throughout the movement's history, items from the back pages of popular newspapers played a critical role in shaping the group's strategy for assessing how and why certain forms of violence tended to elude public scrutiny. The surrealists also unearthed a then-overlooked corpus of European literature and thought; they recognized in the works of figures such as the marquis de Sade, the comte de Lautréamont, Arthur Rimbaud, Alphonse Allais, Anne Radcliffe, Eugene Sue, Sigmund Freud, and the German Romantics an intellectual genealogy that presented crime as an event through which systems of law, science, morality, and speculative thought suddenly came into relief. The surrealists' interest in crime encompassed both the specificity of individual criminal cases and the broader register of political violence in modern life.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 2
- As early as 1923 Louis Aragon had begun to define, in anarchist and individualist terms, the ethical position toward violence that he would later maintain in "Red Front." He writes that "if an individual becomes conscious of the monstrous inequality, of the vanity of all speech in the face of the growing strength of a certain faction, I hold this individual to be authorized, moreover, to resort to terrorist means."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 184
- As I write, I am like some smuggler in the twilight running guns destined for the war I wage with myself.
Source: Introduction to the Discourse on the Paucity of Reality, p. 139
- As part of the movement's broader practices of experiment and play, however, these creative practices tended to nominate other, non-surrealist objects -- flea market finds, trinkets, newspaper articles, artifacts, totems, or so-called primitive art objects - for consideration as art. I argue that the surrealists studied crime in precisely this manner: without ignoring the cruelty of criminal violence itself, they understood that at the moment it becomes subject to representation, the historical event of crime begins to obey the characteristics of art as a proliferation of objects and artifacts that bear the paradoxical relation of art to the empirical world.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 10
- As...Surrealism ignored the negativity embodied in Dada, being nevertheless hard put to it to institute any positive project, it succeeded only in setting in motion the old ideological mechanism whereby today's partial revolt is turned into tomorrow's official culture.
Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 9
- Benjamin finds Surrealist narrative shifting into a different mode of experience; rather than being a testimony to the facts of a lived experience -- one that reduces the outer world into a coherent realm of identification and sameness -- Surrealist narrative is the disruption of lived experience so that the outer world resists the drive of identification. The younger Benjamin's excitement about Surrealism was precipitated by the movement's celebration of accidental occurrences that revealed everyday life to be a privileged realm of aesthetic inquiry. Benjamin's own rejection of Kantian objective categories is mirrored by Surrealism's premium on the piercing momentary insight that can be achieved through focusing on the particularity of daily experience rather than through the channeling of universal categories. Breton's Nadja celebrates the anticipation of the marvelous in the most seemingly mundane daily moments.
Source: Disruptive Testimonies: The Stakes of Surrealist Experience in Breton and Carrington, p. 90
- Benjamin understood that the surrealist writings of the late 1920s developed a critique of ideology that was both similar and influential to his own, a recognition that bourgeois values, prejudices, and privilege could be found in the most surprising places. That is, the surrealists articulated how political power found its expression in the most seemingly banal forms, such as city streets, interior spaces, and even the plots of detective novels...In particular, [scholars'] interest in the role of surrealism in the development of a "gothic Marxism" -- a form of Marxian thought that could account for the unconscious forces of individual and socioeconomic determination alike -- stresses the importance of surrealism's links to historical forms that articulate similarly irrational forces...
Yet the surrealists also dedicated themselves to confronting institutions of power and domination that were fully evident. Organizing themselves consciously to engage in political struggles against colonialism, fascism, and Stalinism, the surrealist intellectual project had as much to do with militancy as with Benjaminian gothic Marxism. What unites these facets of surrealist praxis is the dynamic and heterogeneous nature of the movement itself. In examining surrealist thought within the conceptual framework of crime, I aim to resist assigning surrealism a consistent set of aesthetic, epistemological, or methodological principles. In place of any such attempt to standardize a fixed definition of "surrealism" or "the surreal" -- a practice that leads inevitably to all kinds of distortions and reductions -- I examine how the group itself struggled throughout its history not only to reconcile but also to draw wisdom from its own most irreconcilable ends, its fiercest debates, and its manifold intellectual commitments as an avant-garde collective.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 12
- Between 1865 and 1875 a number of great anarchists, without knowing of one another, worked on their infernal machines. And the astonishing thing is that independently of one another each set the clock at exactly the same hour, and forty years later in Western Europe the writings of Dostoyevsky, Rimbaud, and Lautréamont exploded at the same time. One might, to be more exact, select from Dostoyevsky's entire work the one episode that was actually not published until about 1915, 'Stavrogin’s Confession' from The Possessed. This chapter, which touches very closely on the third canto of the Chants de Maldoror, contains a justification of evil in which certain motifs of Surrealism are more powerfully expressed than by any of its present spokesmen. For Stavrogin is a Surrealist avant la lettre. No one else understood, as he did, how naïve is the view of the Philistines that goodness, for all the manly virtue of those who practice it, is God- inspired; whereas evil stems entirely from our spontaneity, and in it we are independent and self-sufficient beings. No one else saw inspiration, as he did, in even the most ignoble actions, and precisely in them. He considered vileness itself as something preformed, both in the course of the world and also in ourselves, to which we are disposed if not called, as the bourgeois idealist sees virtue. Dostoyevsky's God created not only heaven and earth and man and beast, but also baseness, vengeance, cruelty. And here, too, he gave the devil no opportunity to meddle in his handiwork.
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 53
- Bety had been talking almost as if there had been two lives, each a kind of dream to the other.
Source: All Hallows' Eve, p. 78
- Breton based his argument in the Manifesto on a critique of the model of human agency that prevailed in bourgeois society. The basic flaw with this model was that it limited the scope of human behaviour to acts that conformed to an arbitrary model of rational action and which encouraged a thoroughly pragmatic approach to life. Yet rationality foreclosed the possibility of imaginative engagement with the full compass of human experience. Unlike the child, for whom the imagination 'knows no bounds', in the adult the imagination was 'allowed to be exercised only in strict accordance with the laws of an arbitrary utility'. In this way the imaginative liberty of childhood was subordinated to the arbitrary authority of culture.
Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 6
- Breton identified the 'reign of logic' as the principal means employed to suppress the imagination's innate rebelliousness. The influence of positivist philosophy and analytic reason had banished all forms of magical thinking from contemporary life; humanity, having lost any sense of its own purpose, consequently found itself incapable of accepting responsibility for its own destiny. As a result, 'experience has found itself increasingly circumscribed', leaning 'for support on what is most immediately expedient', 'protected by the sentinels of common sense', and 'any kind of search for truth which is not in conformance with accepted practice' was now forbidden.
Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 7
- Breton, in his book Arcanum 17, written in Quebec toward the war's end, and thus after the publication of Down Below, responds to the news of the liberation of Paris with a warning that extends Carrington's crisis in consciousness into the postwar historical moment: the end of the Second World War was not necessarily the end of fascism. We must not, he urges, confuse liberation with liberty, or the remission of an illness with the onset of health. "Recovery," in both Breton's and Carrington's accounts, refers not to the simple relieving of symptoms but to "a constant renewal of energy." As Breton writes, "Liberty is not, like liberation, a struggle against sickness, it is health."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 242-243
- Breton...raises the stakes of Nadja's momentary recourse to cold-blooded murder in stating that "the simplest surrealist act consists of dashing down into the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd."...The difficult part of revolution is not its violence; indeed, Breton suggests that violence is all too simple. What is difficult is the full realization of a project of emancipation that extends to all facets of life, and that places the most extreme demands on its practitioners. Revolution, Breton writes in the Second Manifesto, requires the kind of commitment to the overthrow of bourgeois capitalism that can be experienced only as a despair so strong as to render extremism imaginable...Breton's most notorious statement, in other words, invokes murder not as an extension of surrealism's alleged methodism into the field of political violence, but as the hypothetical extreme that Breton claims to be the measure of surrealism's refusal to operate simply as a method, whether aesthetic, epistemological, or political.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 149-150
- Breton...writes: "The simplest Surrealist act consists of dashing down into the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd. Anyone who, at least once in his life, has not dreamed of thus putting an end to the petty system of debasement and cretinization in effect has a well-defined place in that crowd, with his belly at barrel level." Interpretations of these lines from the Second Manifesto have fueled attacks against surrealism in general, most notably Jean-Paul Sartre's charge that the movement, like Breton's statement, represented a feeble attempt to organize "revolution" around the inner dictates of the individual -- a vulgar and politically bankrupt fusion of Leninist and Freudian rhetoric. Yet Breton is not invoking the "inner dictates of the individual," nor is he simply mobilizing this act of terror as a rhetorical flourish. He means it literally, but stresses that "my intention is not to recommend it above every other because it is simple, and to try and pick a quarrel with me on this point is tantamount to asking, in bourgeois fashion, any nonconformist why he doesn't commit suicide, or any revolutionary why he doesn't pack up and go live in the USSR." Surrealism's struggle lay in reconciling its radical break from the "ideology of continuity" with its awareness that even radicalism tends toward the continuous and the familiar whenever it expresses itself in forms, such as gunshots, that are merely extensions of preexisting violence...
The group's analyses and debates about the status of violence in the modern world extended to the very question of using revolutionary violence as a political strategy. To what extent could political violence ever be distinguished from crime? How did anti colonial violence differ from terrorism, from ethnic cleansing, or from colonial wars of invasion? Such questions, central to the activities of the surrealist group throughout the movement's history, show the surrealists' dedication to a public intellectualism that confronted the most fundamental principles of revolution and avant-gardism.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 7
- Carrington posits the subject's capacity for experience of the outer world as a precondition for the propagation of history. The body and mind are not merely cogs in a machine of history but the site at which history itself unfolds. By linking her loss of control over her mind and body with a loss of control over the master narrative of history, Carrington radically undoes the notion that history functions independently of its subjects. The body itself is the locus through which history manifests itself as a narrative, not merely as a useful fiction for maintaining the coherence of the subject, but as a site where temporality itself is reflected. Unlike Breton, who saw the experience of the marvelous as releasing the subject from the grip of history and society, Carrington's Surrealist experience shifts history to the foreground. Through her emphasis on the body, Carrington makes a claim for the subject in an aesthetic experience that registers history and subverts the notion that she is a unified subject in control of either her body or history.
Source: Disruptive Testimonies: The Stakes of Surrealist Experience in Breton and Carrington, p. 101
- Carrington's primary concern while ill is the possibility of intervening against Hitler’s influence [. . .]; after her recovery, however, the index that she uses to chart her trajectory into madness is her loss of ability to recognize or to gauge the significance of historical realities. Thus, while Down Below plays quite deliberately with the abstract peculiarities of perspectivism and madness, Carrington remains deeply concerned with the issue of how to perceive and articulate historical and political fact.
Source: Disruptive Testimonies: The Stakes of Surrealist Experience in Breton and Carrington, p. 101
- Certainly surrealism must also be treated as an artistic and literary school (this is even where one must begin): as such, it is founded on automatic writing. It gives a decisive value to this type of thought, analogous to dream, which is not subordinated to the control of reason. In so doing it extricates the human mind from any end other than poetry.
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 58
- Chester Himes's Harlem crime thrillers, and La Reine des pommes in particular, take this parodic ambition to precisely the baroque excesses at which Deleuze hints. Yet in doing so, the novels end up embracing this parody in a very different way, with a complex combination of political anger and a vernacular ear that resonates more with the cultural project of surrealism than with Deleuze's "copy without an original."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 254
- Connoisseurs of images, we have long ago learned to recognize the image of desire hidden behind the simulacra of terror.
Source: The Rotting Donkey, p. 257
- Crevel's "scandalous" tales [i.e., his explicit mediumistic outpourings] were suppressed, I argue, because they confronted the proto-surrealists with their own reluctance to address the ethical implications of their newly developed practices...Even after his reconciliation with the surrealists in late 1924, Crevel would remain critical of "automatism" and automatic writing, as well as, more tacitly, the movement's Desnosian predilection [i.e., quasi-mystical posing]. For Crevel this was no jealous retribution but a serious accusation that revealed his commitment to understanding avant-garde experimentation as an extension of lived experience, of politics, and of intellectual practice.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 62,63
- Crevel, as we have seen, was in fact deeply suspicious the avant-garde's tendency to aestheticize the explosiveness of historical acts of violence. As he argues in his pointedly titled essay "Which Way?," published in a 1923-24 issue of The Little Review, "many a person has manufactured a bomb to destroy detestable monuments and has then been content simply to place his bomb on the mantelpiece, make a thousand copies of it which he puts on sale like the Venus de Milo in cheap plaster." Revel's complaint invokes the bomb-throwing turn-of-the-century anarchists such as Ravachol, Emile Henry, and the Bonnot gang, whose notoriety and terrorist tactics fascinated many of the early surrealists. Such anarchist attacks provided spectacles of revolt, but beyond their initial impact, there wasn't much to prevent them from becoming little more than spectacles in the end, aestheticized in spite of their violence. Yet whereas Crevel's essay advocates transforming such plaster casts back into bombs, it does not do so to embrace their return to deadly force...For Crevel, as would become the case for the surrealists more broadly, aesthetic relations [a substitute for actual violence] were a conduit for ethical relations.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 75
- Crime itself is hardly a modern phenomenon. What is modern, though, are the institutions of police detection and legal psychiatry invented to diagnose it, as well as the public eye of the media that frames it as a spectacle. This spectacle presents a disorienting array of cultural extremes: private suffering and public sensation, destruction and production, reason and unreason...Each crime scene, illuminated by flashbulbs and searchlights, becomes a site of contested meanings; each corpse sets in motion waves of public sentiment, popular imagery, and civic action that oscillate between fascination and outrage, between sensationalism and the social process of restoring order.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 7-8
- Dada and surrealism are the two currents which mark the end of modern art. They are contemporaries, though only in a relatively conscious manner, of the last great assault of the revolutionary proletarian movement; and the defeat of this movement, which left them imprisoned in the same artistic field whose decrepitude they had announced, is the basic reason for their immobilization. Dadaism and surrealism are at once historically related and opposed to each other. This opposition, which each of them considered to be its most important and radical contribution, reveals the internal inadequacy of their critique, which each developed one-sidedly. Dadaism wanted to suppress art without realizing it; surrealism wanted to realize art without suppressing it. The critical position later elaborated by the Situationists has shown that the suppression and the realization of art are inseparable aspects of a single supersession of art.
Source: Society of the Spectacle, p. 191
- Deleuze's notion of parody refers less to the novels' play on the conventions of the detective story form, however, than to their parodic relation to "the real" itself. He suggests that the novels presuppose the artificiality and even "falsehood" of lived reality, supplanting mimetic representation with the projection of simulacra.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 254
- Dime novels were the products of a kin of automatic writing, Soupault claimed, composed almost mechanically and characterized by a near-absolute degree of spontaneity.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 103
- Don Benjamin was hardly three feet tall and as slender and hairy as a bat; it was impossible for him to see what was interesting the groups of people and police over the shoulders of Doña Benjamin, a woman of colossal build, who required two seats in the tram (one for each buttock) and more than eight yards of material for a dress.
Source: El Senor Presidente, p. 53
- Dreams, dreams, dreams, with each step the domain of dreams expands. Dreams, dreams, dreams, at last the blue sun of dreams forces the steel-eyed beasts back to their lairs. Dream, dreams, dreams on the lips of love, on the numbers of happiness, on the teardrops of carefulness, on the signals of hope, on building sites where a whole nation submits to pickaxes. Dreams, dreams, dreams, nothing but dreams where the wind wanders and barking dogs are out on the roads.
Source: A Wave of Dreams, p. 31
- During the course of the group's relationship with Minotaure, the surrealists shifted their efforts from theorizing the validity of revolutionary violence to finding strategies for deriving paranoiac knowledge. The surrealists, in other words, strove to create an atmosphere that did not so much constitute "revolution" as it was conducive to the knowledge represented obliquely in Nouge and Magritte's drawing: the means -- moral as well as material -- are at hand. By calling surrealism's period of political and epistemological reassessment both a noir period and a period of negation, I have argued, first, that the group's poetic and political aims in 1933 were not limited to revealing irrational forces at work within exterior reality. Rather, the surrealists studied how such forces were organized as coherent structures of motive, causality, and perception in a way that revealed their contiguity with existing structures of political and ideological logic. Second, I maintain that this noir period enabled rather than performed the group's political work. The theoretical experiments of this era provided the basis for a new "morality of revolt" that advocated a massive collective restructuring of society on diverse fronts -- from mental institutions to literature to family structure to political parties -- instead of the merely destructive violence of Aragon's "Red Front."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 197
- Each [pursuer of Sunday in Chesterton's Thursday] is stunned and enraged by the message he receives, because the messages implicate the detective-receiver in what appear to be stories at once bewildering and precise. For example, one message to a pursuer reads 'Fly at once. The truth about you trouser-stretchers is known -- A FRIEND'; another reads, 'The word, I fancy, should be "pink"'; a third, from Sunday to a male pursuer: 'Your beauty has not left me indifferent.--From LITTLE SNOWDROP' (157, 161, 163). Now these surreal messages, these tender buttons of notes, are God's improvisations; they exhibit the bravado of meaningful meaningless. But they are also meaning-full. The precise specificity of the notes makes them feel as if they are intelligible particulars dropped from a comprehensive and intelligible tale no less certain than the note of certainty characteristically struck by each folded wad. It is the ability of ambiguity to strike certain notes, to issue in certainty, that enrages Sunday's pursuers. But, most significantly, it is the same ability of ambiguity to strike a certain note that leads Syme, two chapters later, to grasp the sight of everything, to know that the dynamiter is as blessed as the detective. Double-writing has its consummation here. Improvisation and ambiguity unveil a definitive apocalypse.
Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 164
- Ecological awareness and a specifically wilderness-inspired radicalism were central to the two principal sources of the Rebel Worker perspective: the IWW and surrealism.
Source: Dancin' in the Streets, p. 42
- Erected as a principle, must not caprice cease to be capricious?
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 63
- Every inch of my person gained weight with every second until the total burden on the bed was approximately five hundred thousand tons. This was evenly distributed on the four wooden legs of the bed, which had by now become an integral part of the universe. My eyelids, each weighting no less than four tons, slewed ponderously across my eyeballs. My narrow shins, itchier and more remote in their agony of relaxation, moved further away from me till my happy toes pressed closely on the bars. My position was completely horizontal, ponderous, absolute and incontrovertible. United with the bed I became momentous and planetary....Robbing me of the reassurance of my eyesight, [the night] was disintegrating my bodily personality into a flux of colour, smell, recollection, desire -- all the strange uncounted essences of terrestrial and spiritual existence. I was deprived of definition, position and magnitude and my significance was considerably diminished.
Source: The Third Policeman, p. 100-101
- Everything that allowed the genius of a people to assert itself bent more and more under the pressure of hostile forces, more or less disguised. Whatever could have been added to its assets -- the fundamental code of this people as, like it or not, it arose from its institutions -- was left in the shadows out of fear that the concept of liberty, which doesn't take well to resting, might become more demanding.
Source: Arcanum 17, p. 125
- Exactly 30 years after Bernays' Propaganda was first published, Belgian surrealist Marcel Mariën, who also worked in marketing and advertising, developed his own campaigning theory on the basis of surrealistic thinking. His piece, 'Théorie de la révolution mondiale immédiate', [theory of the immediate world revolution], appeared in 1958 in the surrealistic periodical Les lèvres nues in Brussels (Mariën, 1958). In the text, Mariën develops an alternative, surrealist concept of propaganda.
Source: Surrealistic communication as symbolic terrorism: The example of Marcel Mariën’s theory of political campaigning, p. 196
- Far from a mere factual account, Down Below is a testimony to the recollection of madness and, therefore, subject to Carrington's critical and imaginative eye on later reflection. This is particularly important when we recall that Breton had prompted Carrington to recount it as a Surrealist, and as a Surrealist who had experienced the "real" thing. As Jonathan Eburne argues, Carrington adeptly wrestles with her paranoia and is self-reflexive about the Surrealist nature of her experience. She tells us: "I am afraid I am going to drift into fiction, truthful but incomplete, for lack of some details which I cannot conjure up today and which may have enlightened us". This curiously mirrors Breton's assertion at the beginning of Nadja: Narrative truth is more important than the factual truth. However, the "truth" of Carrington's experience in Down Below is not to be found only in the recollection of what happened where but has everything to do with how Carrington holds that she could no longer maintain the mind/body split within herself and that this rupture led to her projection of her mind and body onto the external world as well. Her body and mind mirrored the outer world of the chaos of Europe in 1940. Rather than the events of the outer world being the sole catalyst for her inner breakdown (like Ernst being taken back to a detention camp), the world itself appeared to become "jammed" (as she calls it) at the same time as her body.
Source: Disruptive Testimonies: The Stakes of Surrealist Experience in Breton and Carrington, p. 98
- Federico Garcia Lorca, Pablo Neruda, or Hart Crane are not surrealist poets in precisely the same way as Paul Eluard, yet there are important affinities in both theory and technique which can be appropriately described as part of surrealist expression. Without the appeal to inner violence and disorder, the invocation of dreams, visions, and hallucinations, the transformation of language, the rejection of logical structure and linear metaphor, the poetry of all of these writers would be far different from what it is. In its antecedents as in its consequences, surrealism is too anarchic and individualistic to be reduced to a formula. It is best described in the broadest possible sense as a current of poetic expression inhering finally not so much in doctrines and personal relationships as in works, and it is these works which are of primary importance in any attempt to evaluate the role of surrealism in contemporary poetry.
Source: Surrealism and Modern Poetry: Outline of an Approach, p. 176
- For all but the immediate participants and witnesses, the experience of any such event is overwhelmingly secondhand. Sensationalized by the press, gawked at by passers-by, whispered about i hushed and horrified tones, or cited as an example for public outrage, safety, or moral benefit, murder is already subject to representation and details of "design...grouping, light and shade, poetry, sentiment." Maria Tatar has proposed that contemporary avant-garde depictions of sexual murder in Weimar Germany compensated for this distance or alienation between the spectator and the event through exploitative and violent relations of fantasy: identification, voyeurism, catharsis, and the experience of sublimity. I contend, however, that surrealist and porto-surrealist writings like Peret's, i spite of their callous rhetoric and ironic distance, derive their "aesthetic" approach from an ethical commitment to dislodging judgment -- moral and aesthetic alike -- from the formalism of national myths and institutions...In doing so...they offer the beginnings of a surrealist intellectual program, a critical aesthetics with its own inherent imperative for judgment.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 56-57
- For Crevel, Lacan's thesis was promising to the left for its understanding of paranoia as a psychotic structure that systematically accuses the very ideological forces signified by Freud's notion of "culture." This culture was repressive not simply because it beat back the death drive but because it represented the full force of bourgeois social conditioning which in the France of the early 1930s, was beginning to take on a frighteningly discernible shape: an attachment to so-called family values that sanctioned patriarchal privilege and a rampant homophobia; and an ever-present xenophobia and anti-Semitism whose deep roots in twentieth-century French culture only strengthened what Crevel and the surrealists considered to be a growing fascist sympathy among the French bourgeoisie.
The "accusation" performed by murderous exhibitionism thus does not canonize the psychotic as a revolutionary figure; insofar as the physical illness represents the moral illness that produces it, Crevel's structuralist notion of behavior as a representation allows his further ideas about political illness and oppression to be a matter of extension...Yet Crevel's version of political and psychological causality structured as a "fortuitous encounter" is particularly useful to surrealism insofar as it rethinks the causality not only of presumably legitimate revolution but of the most inexplicable, brutal, and regressive of events as well -- whether domestic murder or the growing domestic appeal of fascism.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 189
- For my own part, I couldn't have said whether she was the waitress we always had here or I'd never seen her before. The invisible are always so resolutely invisible, until you see them.
Source: Chronic City, p. 211
- For Raskolnikov, Dostoyevsky's protagonist, is not a passive observer of the room. The scene cited in the Manifesto in fact describes Raskolnikov's reconnaissance visit to an old pawnbroker who occupies the yellow parlor, and whom he will soon murder with the blunt side of an axe. The narrative gaze of the description is thus cast quite literally with an eye to murder...There is in fact a telling gap in Breton's quotation, an ellipsis that omits precisely the element of dramatic purpose whose absence from the supposedly "empty" room he rejects...By expurgating these lines, Breton empties the larger passage of any such ominous purposiveness. As a result, the description of the room becomes little more than a fragment of narrative ornamentation, allowing Breton to transform the lack of originality of the room's decor into a symptom of the imaginative bankruptcy its representation threatens to reproduce...
In the 1924 Manifesto Breton uses his critique of Crime and Punishment as a means for asserting, by contrast, the promise of surrealist and Freudian understandings of the psyche. Unlike naturalism and positivism, these contemporary modes of analysis authorize the imagination to explore "the depths of our mind" as an alternative to more hidebound conceptions of experience. But surrealism, like psychoanalysis, also relied on naturalism and positivism, even as it rejected their limitations...In...1921...Breton makes the dramatic claim that the invention of photography in the nineteenth century "dealt a mortal blow to old means of expression." Breton's Ernst essay furthermore allies the mortal blow of photography with the development of automatic writing...as the "veritable photography of thought."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 25
- For there is no doubt that the heroic phase, whose catalogue of heroes Aragon left us in that work [Paris Peasant], is over...But at the time when it broke over its founders as an inspiring dream wave, it seemed the most integral, conclusive, absolute of movements. Everything with which it came into contact was integrated. Life only seemed worth living where the threshold between waking and sleeping was worn away in everyone as by the steps of multitudinous flooding back and forth. Language only seemed itself where sound and image, image and sound interpenetrated with automatic precision and such felicity that no chink was left for the penny-in-the-slot called 'meanings'. Image and language take precedence. Saint-Pol Roux, retiring to bed about daybreak, fixes a notice on his door: 'Poet at work'. Breton notes: 'Quietly. I want to pass where no one yet has passed, quietly!—After you, dearest language.' Language takes precedence.
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 48
- For various reasons I have never told you my entire family history, as I was sworn to secrecy during the Communist persecution of Hungary. Now, sadly enough, the only remaining members of our family are Anubeth and myself. As I suggested before, I had a somewhat tense relationship with my other sisters, Audrey, Anastasia and Annabelle. They all suffered from a common mania, namely that when I crossed half the world to visit them in their respective castles, that my journeys were made with the object of stealing an early model vacuum cleaner which they were in the habit of hiring to each other at exorbitant prices. They all perished during the cataclysm. Audrey was found congealed upside-down in a small iceberg that invaded her bedroom. She was still holding an empty bottle of champagne to her lips. Very tragic, but not altogether without poetic justice.
Source: The Hearing Trumpet, p. 153
- Force of habit rather than my own capacity carried me home and sat me down in the back yard. Strangely enough I was in England and it was a Sunday afternoon. I was sitting with a book on a stone seat under a lilac bush. Close by a clump of rosemary saturated the air with perfume. They were playing tennis nearby, the clump clump of the rackets and balls was quite audible. This was the sunken Dutch garden, why Dutch I wonder? The roses? the geometrical flower beds? or perhaps because it is sunken? The church bells ringing, that is the Protestant church, have we had tea yet? (cucumber sandwiches, seed cake and rock buns) Yes, tea must be over...
I am not really here in England in this scented garden although it does not disappear as it nearly always does, I am inventing all this and it is about to disappear, but it does not.
Source: The Hearing Trumpet, p. 15
- From ancient times the witches had danced in the cavern through wars and persecutions; many a time when I was pursued I would hide with the witches, and was always received with courtesy and kindness. As you are no doubt aware, my mission through the ages has been to carry uncensored news to the people, without consideration of either rank or status. This has made me unpopular with the authorities all over this planet. My object is to help human beings to realize their state of slavery and exploitation by power-seeking beings.
Source: The Hearing Trumpet, p. 145
- From Timerman's chronicle and texts like Miguel Angel Asturias's El señor presidente it is abundantly clear that cultures of terror are based on and nourished by silence and myth in which the fanatical stress on the mysterious side of the mysterious flourishes by means of rumor and fantasy woven in a dense web of magical realism. It is also clear that the victimizer needs the victim for the purpose of making truth, objectifying the victimizer's fantasies in the discourse of the other. To be sure, the torturer's desire is also prosaic: to acquire information, to act in concert with large-scale economic strategies elaborated by the masters and exigencies of production. Yet equally if not more important is the need to control massive populations through the cultural elaboration of fear.
Source: Culture of Terror/Space of Death, p. 469
- Given that the same old debate continues to rage even in this day and age, all that remains are words. Words tend to group themselves according to specific affinities whose general result is to recreate the same old world over and over again. Things then proceed as if some concrete reality existed beyond the particular -- indeed, as if this reality were immutable. In the realm of the pure establishment of facts (should one care to venture into it), absolute certainty is required in order to put forward something new, something powerful enough to run counter to common sense. The legendary E pur, si muove! which Galileo is said to have muttered after having recanted, remains timely to this very day. How many men are there today who, anxious to keep abreast with their times, feel themselves capable, say, of making their language responsible to the latest breakthroughs in biology or the theory of relativity?
Source: Introduction to the Discourse on the Paucity of Reality, p. 140
- Grant Allen had already seen the potential for linking terrorism to the unconscious in his popular novel For Maimie's Sake: A Tale of Love and Dynamite (1886). The main terrorist group in the text is ruled over by a power called 'the Unconscious', which the Polish revolutionary Benyowski describes after having been chosen to carry out an assassination: 'The old fashioned mind would have seen in this the finger of providence. We see in it rather the working of the Unconscious. Both are immutable, divine, mysterious.'
Source: Terrorism and Modern Literature, p. 47-48
- Half in the world of reality, half in a dream, the Zany ran on, pursued by dogs and by spears of fine rain.
Source: El Senor Presidente, p. 19
- Harvey had been dreaming that his interrogator was one of those electric typewriters where the typeface can be changed by easy manipulation; the voice of the interrogator changed like the type, and in fact was one and the same, now roman, now elite, now italics. In the end, bells on the typewriter rang to wake him up to the phone and the doorbell.
Source: The Only Problem, p. 403
- Having weighed up its experience of the Real -- in which it indiscriminately mixes everything that exists -- the mind naturally juxtaposes what it knows of the Unreal. Only when the mind has gone beyond these two notions can it begin to envisage a wider experience, one where these other two experiences co-exist, and that is the Surreal.
Surreality, the state where these concepts are fused by the mind, is the shared horizon of religion, magic, poetry, dreaming, madness, intoxication and this fluttering honeysuckle, puny little life, that you believe capable of colonizing the heavens for us.
Source: A Wave of Dreams, p. 23-24
- He didn't hear any more because an inordinately lengthy individual, who had been giving a demonstration of speed for the past five minutes, had just slipped through his legs by leaning forward as far as possible and the rush of air that he created lifted Colin several yards above the ground. He clutched at the edge of the first floor gallery, got his balance and after doing a backwards somersault the wrong way round, landed back at the sides of Chick and Lisa.
'They ought to be stopped from going too fast,' said Colin.
Then he quickly crossed himself because the culprit had just skated straight into the wall of the restaurant at the other end of the rink and flattened himself against it like a marshmallow jelly-fish picked to pieces by a destructive child.
The serf-sweepers one again did their duty and one of them planted a cross of ice on the spot where the accident had occurred. As it melted, the Master of Ceremonies played a selection of religious records.
Then everything went back to normal. And Chick, Lisa and Colin went round and round and round.
Source: Froth on the Daydream, p. 23-24
- He emptied his bath by boring a hole in the bottom of the tub. The light yellow ceramic clay tiles of the bathroom floor sloped in such a way that the water was orientated into an orifice placed directly over the study of the tenant in the flat below. But only a few days previously, without saying a word to Colin, the position of the study had been changed. Now the water went straight into the larder underneath.
Source: Froth on the Daydream, p. 9-10
- He had all the pleasure of going to be happy.
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 127
- He had known for a while that certain episodes he dreamed could not be his own. This wasn't through any rigorous daytime analysis of content, but just because he knew.
Source: Gravity's Rainbow, p. 13
- He is a great man that never gets out of bed, he said. He spends the days and nights reading books and occasionally he writes one. He makes all his characters live with him in his house. Nobody knows whether they are there at all or whether it is all imagination. A great man.
Source: At Swim-Two-Birds, p. 99
- He pressed the button. With a dull roar the building swaying, swept up in a spraying fan of light and Pragman: the old gentleman and: as the explosion shattered: McDowell tap-tapping smiling and: it settled in a crumpled steaming dusty pile of rock and masonry.
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 223
- He recalled he had not slept: the inharmonious night pulling him almost physically backward with a drooping revulsion into (what? when? who?) some unremembered dream? some unvisited locality? Had not some forgotten woman breathed the silver mail of her soul about him?
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 51
- Herbert Marcuse has identified 'the surrealistic effort' as one that asserts that there are forces operating in the world '[with] which we refuse to come to grips. We are subject not only to the causality of reason, as explored in the natural sciences and in common sense, but also to "irrational," surreal or subreal (in terms of accepted rationality) forces'. In tackling this cultural repression, Surrealism provides 'more than a mere enlargement of our perception, imagination, reason'; it is also a project for the 'restructuring and redirection of the mental faculties [...] to undo the mutilation of our faculties by the established society and its requirements'.
Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 4
- Here due weight must be given to the insight that in the Traité du style, Aragon's last book, required a distinction between metaphor and image, a happy insight into questions of style that needs extending. Extension: nowhere do these two -- metaphor and image -- collide so drastically and so irreconcilably as in politics. For to organize pessimism means nothing other than to expel moral metaphor from politics and to discover in political action a sphere reserved one hundred per cent for images. This image sphere, however, can no longer be measured out by contemplation.
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 55
- Himes's realization that his own social protest novels were themselves entangled in this equilibrium of falsehoods coincides with his abandonment of this form of writing. As he explains in My Life of Absurdity, his turn to a genre in which violence is neither the stuff of tragedy nor perpetually looming as the burden of an ironic fate was itself a protest against the protest novel. Himes writes: "i wanted to break through the barrier that labeled me as a 'protest writer.' I knew the life of an American black needed another image than just the victim of racism." The violence with which Himes populates his detective fiction thus represents a twofold adjustment: first, its multiplication of falsehood within a Harlem teeming with crime and deception gives free rein to the exploration of the "unconscious" desires of Himes's previous novels, which are given no opportunity to distinguish between different kinds of violence...Second, Himes's crime fiction abandons his earlier frustration with the ideological circuit of absurdity and instead embraces it to the extent that these conditions, though oppressive, nevertheless constitute the imaginative fabric of African American life and vernacular culture. Certainly in La Reine des pommes Himes embraces the jokes, dozens, and witticisms, he implicitly condemns in If He Hollers. This double adjustment constitutes Himes's rejection of both Wright's and Sartre's notions of engaged writing in favor of an indulgently disengaged dark humor; removing the responsibility for "real" political action from its presumed place immediately manifest within the text, this humor leaves the question of violent rebellion to simmer in the imagination.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 260-261
- Himes's transformation into a "French" writer is characterized not by what his fiction loses in translation but by what it gains: namely, an involvement in French, and particularly surrealist, thinking about modes of writing that frustrate instrumentality through their irretrievable lapses and excesses of meaning.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 247
- How long he lay there he did not know. The night had been throbbing silently about him. Suddenly it was as if the room had been jerked up and down twice or thrice, but with such infinite rapidity that the motion had been imperceptible, save that a thrilled commotion remained in the air, leaving the room pulsing. He saw that the old gentleman had reached under the table and had pulled a lever.
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 22
- How long will we have to wait for a brand new laboratory where established ideas, no matter which, beginning with the most elementary ones, the ones most hastily exonerated, will be accepted only for purposes of study, contingent on an examination from top to bottom and by definition free from all preconceptions?
Source: Arcanum 17, p. 61
- 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.
Source: Paris Peasant, p. 60
- I am swinging gently in the air, bumping against the ladder, flailing with my feet. The drumbeat in my ears becomes slower and louder till it is all I can hear.
I am standing in front of the old man, screwing up my eyes against the wind, waiting for him to speak. The ancient gun still rests between his horse's ears, but it is not aimed at me. I am aware of the vastness of the sky all around us, and of the desert.
I watch his lips. At any moment now he will speak: I must listen carefully to capture every syllable, so that later, repeating them to myself, poring over them, I can discover the answer to a question which for the moment has flown like a bird from my recollection.
I can see every hair of the horse's mane, every wrinkle of the old man's face, every rock and furrow of the hillside.
The girl, with her black hair braided and hanging over her shoulder in barbarian fashion, sits her horse behind him. Her head is bowed, she too is waiting for him to speak.
I sigh. "What a pity," I think. "It is too late now."
I am swinging loose. The breeze lifts my smock and plays with my naked body. I am relaxed, floating. In a woman's clothes.
Source: Waiting for the Barbarians, p. 120
- 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.
Source: Paris Peasant, p. 65
- I believe the moment is drawing near when, by a thought process of a paranoiac and active character, it would be possible (simultaneously with automatism and other passive states) to systematize confusion and thereby contribute to a total discrediting of the world of reality.
Source: The Rotting Donkey, p. 257
- I call this surrealist understanding of political and psychological reality "noir" because the noir genres studied by the surrealists throughout the movement's history, and with increasing rigor during the 1930s, represented what I argue is a paranoiac response to contemporary historical and political events. Participants as well as observers in a period of developing historical emergency, the surrealists were acutely aware of the danger of remaining unconscious protagonists in the historical drama of the 1930s...Whereas the characters in noir fiction struggle in vain to make sense of the forces to which their actions are subject, the stylistic universe of the noir aesthetic itself makes possible the analysis it denies its characters. Through this analytical access, the noir aesthetic becomes theory, itself a speculative means for investigating the structure of reality -- exterior to the aesthetic form itself -- that made action possible...Indeed, what seems progressive about noir and gothic fictions is precisely their configuration of political, psychological, and historical questions as a problem of representation, or, more accurately, as a problem of style...Could not the standard noir plot twist be described as the uncanny realization that an evil "out there," against which the protagonists so gallantly attempt to safeguard themselves, is suddenly revealed to have been in their midst all along?...The possibility that the most abjectly alien acts of terror were themselves already both interpretations and representations of lived reality suggested a method for interpreting the historical present. For the surrealists such acts were legible as motifs not only within the narrative framework of gothic fiction but within the contemporary world as well...[I]t was surrealism's efforts to account structurally for otherwise invisible, unconscious forces determining the course of history -- just as it had once been the group's original claim to "photograph" the unconscious through automatic writing -- that lent its noir period a political use-value.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 193-195
- I clambered through the opening and found myself, not at once in a room, but crawling along the deepest window-ledge I have ever seen. When I reached the floor and jumped noisily down upon it, the open window seemed very far away and much too small to have admitted me.
Source: The Third Policeman, p. 20
- I did not understand the significance of anything but I thought the scene was so real that much of my fear was groundless. I trod firmly beside the Sergeant, who was still real enough for anybody.
Source: The Third Policeman, p. 113
- I felt my interior map expand to allow for the reality of this place, the corridor floor’s lumpy checkerboard mosaic, the cloying citrus of the superintendent’s disinfectant oil, the bank of dented brass mailboxes, and the keening of a dog from behind an upstairs door, alerted to the buzzer and my scuffling bootheels. I have trouble believing anything exists until I know it bodily.
Source: Chronic City, p. 9
- I have always refused to give up that wonderful strange power I have inside me and it becomes manifested when I am in harmonious communication with some other inspired being like myself.
Source: The Hearing Trumpet, p. 26
- I must make one point clear: my explanation here is the ballistic study of a gunshot. The stand taken by André Breton was the shot itself...In the first period of surrealism his writing always connected the pent-up agitation of fury with the expression of its object. All his writing has engaged with the infinite destiny of mankind -- something which people in France tend to find amusing, but which also represents, at the same time, the exhilarating mark of authenticity.
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 59
- I shall refer later to the bitter, passionate revolt against Catholicism in which Rimbaud, Lautréamont and Apollinaire brought Surrealism into the world. But the true, creative overcoming of religious illumination certainly does not lie in narcotics. It resides in a profane illumination, a materialistic, anthropological inspiration, to which hashish, opium, or whatever else can give an introductory lesson. (But a dangerous one; and the religious lesson is stricter.) This profane illumination did not always find the Surrealists equal to it, or to themselves, and the very writings that proclaim it most powerfully, Aragon's incomparable Paysan de Paris and Breton's Nadja, show very disturbing symptoms of deficiency.
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 49
- I took Peyote in the mountains of Mexico, and I had a dose of it that lasted me two or three days with the Tarahumara, and at the time those three days seemed like the happiest days of my life.
I had stopped tormenting myself, trying to find a reason for my life, and I had stopped having to carry my body around.
I realized that I was inventing life, that that was my function and my raison d'être, and that I suffered when my imagination failed, and Peyote gave it to me.
A human being stepped forward and drew the Peyote out of me with a blow.
I made it into real shreds, and the cadaver of a man was torn to shreds and found torn to shreds, somewhere.
rai da kanka da kum
a kum da na kum vönoh
Granting that this world is not the reverse of the other and still less its half, this world is also a real machinery of which I have the controls, it is a true factory whose key is inborn humor.
sana tafan tana
tanaf tamafts bai
Source: The Peyote Dance, p. 82-83
- If mere words, the language of public discourse, are debased, the writer may well wish to turn to more intuitive models of communication, the discourse of private symbolism and even madness.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 81
- If we state simply, for the sake of lucidity, that today's man defines himself by his avidity for myth, and if we add that he defines himself also by the consciousness of not having the power to gain access to the possibility of creating a true myth, we have defined a sort of myth which is the absence of myth...To this first suppression of particularity can be added -- or must be added -- the necessity of an absence of community.
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 81
- If, however, Apollinaire and Breton advance even more energetically in the same direction and complete the linkage of Surrealism to the outside world with the declaration, 'The conquests of science rest far more on a surrealistic than on a logical thinking' -- if, in other words, they make mystification, the culmination of which Breton sees in poetry (which is defensible), the foundation of scientific and technical development, too -- then such integration is too impetuous.
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 52
- Immediately after the pistol shots, the Zany's yells and the flight of Vasquez and his friend, the streets ran one after the other, all scantily clad in moonlight, and not knowing what had happened, while the trees in the square twisted their fingers together in despair because they could not announce the event either by means of the wind or the telephone wires. The streets arrived at the crossroads and asked one another where the crime had taken place, and then some hurried to the centre of the town and others to the outskirts, as if disorientated.
Source: El Senor Presidente, p. 51
- In 1946 the pamphlet Liberté est un mot vietnamien [Liberty Is a Vietnamese Word] protested against French repression in Indochina. Inaugural Break (1947) was a denunciation of Stalinism...however, [immediately] they found themselves obliged go hail the Hungarian uprising in Hongrie, soleil levant [Hungary: The Sun Rises].
In 1960 Surrealists were the initiators of the "Declaration on the Right of Conscientious Objection in the Algerian War" -- the so-called "Declaration of the 121". Eight years later, whatever residue still went by the name "Surrealist" was singing the praises of Cuba!
Along the way the Surrealists worked with the anarchists of Le Libertaire, and for a time supported Garry Davis's Citizens of the World movement.
Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 30
- In a 1966 magazine article celebrating the [Serie Noire's] thousandth title, Gilles Deleuze noted that this distance from the classic mystery novel is not only aesthetic or moral but epistemological as well. Abandoning the detective story's Oedipal search for truth, the stories supplant any such "metaphysical or scientific" quests with an economic system of retribution based instead on the exchange of falsehood for falsehood, error for error. There is no metaphysical certainty, no definitive object to compensate for the proliferation of falsehoods: the hyperbolic economy of exchange is, in Deleuze's words, "a process of restitution that permits a society, at the limits of cynicism, to conceal that which it wishes to conceal, to show that which it wishes to show, to deny evidence and to proclaim the unrealistic." Deleuze lauds those novels in Duhamel's series whose formal elements embrace this representation of society "in the fullest power of its falsehood."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 253
- In its abandonment of protest fiction's epistemological and ethical certainty, Himes's writing for the Série Noire reveals a comic affectation consistent with the surrealist notion of l'humour noir, itself a critical intervention into the field of political writing that was hostile to literary and political naturalism. Indeed what Himes's crime writing shares with surrealist thinking of the post-World War II period is its affected indifference to truth and justice, its sympathy with the shared spirit of writers who expunge the expected characteristics of aesthetic or moral value. This helps to explain what Himes meant when he claimed that although he had "no literary relationship with what is called the Surrealist school," and that he "didn't become acquainted with that term until the fifties," nevertheless "it just so happens that in the lives of black people, there are so many absurd situations, made that way by racism, that black life could sometimes be described as surrealistic. The best expression of surrealism by black people, themselves, is probably achieved by blues musicians."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 247
- In its critical project, anti-Menckenist writing attempted to instigate "new principles" through which, as Cowley wrote in 1924, one might discover "that nonsense may be the strongest form of ridicule; that writing is often worst when it is most profound, saintly or devoted and best when it is approached in a spirit of play; that associational processes of thought often have more force than the logical; that defiance carried to the extremes of bravado is more to be admired than a passive mysticism" ("Communications" 140–41)
Source: Anti-Menckenism: Nathanael West, Robert M. Coates, and the provisional avant-garde, p. 521
- In our cities, the avenues running parallel from north to south all converge in an empty lot made up of our jaded detective's eyes. We no longer have any clue as to who asked us to solve this murky case. The uncovering of the plot, the right no longer to think and act as a herd, the unique opportunity we still have to regain our raison d'être--of all this, nothing survives the course of our dream but a hand closed save for an index finger imperiously pointing to a spot on the horizon. There, in utter purity, the air and light are beginning to incite the proud uprising of all the things that have been thought yet barely framed. There, restored to his original sovereignty and serendipity, man preaches to himself alone, it is said, an everlasting truth that is strictly his own. He has no notion of this hideous arrangement of which we are the latest victims, of this foreground of reality that keeps us from budging.
Source: Introduction to the Discourse on the Paucity of Reality, p. 143
- In point of fact, surrealism has a totally different meaning for Breton than for Apollinaire. Moreover, the semantics of the term itself change drastically as it passes from one to the other. For Apollinaire, the prefix sur functions as an intensifier, increasing the intrinsic value of the reality it modifies. When he originally created the word surréalisme, Apollinaire clearly modeled it on the linguistic class represented by surhomme (superman). For Breton, on the other hand, sur serves as an extender, increasing the extrinsic area to which the concept of reality applies. It functions in exactly the same manner as the prefix in the class of words represented by surnaturel (supernatural).
The difference between the two surrealisms, then, is essentially that between super and supra. Surrealism has the meaning of "hyper-realism" for Apollinaire and "transrealism" (or "meta-realism") for Breton. In the first instance, as noted, there is a concern with analogical parallels to reality, with what one critic in 1920 aptly termed a "surprising 'self-contained reality.'" In the second, this gives way to transcendental preoccupations, relying on esoteric concepts such as psychic automatism and objective chance. The former version of surrealism is essentially psychological in orientation and theatrical in presentation. The latter version has a basically ontological focus and assumes a predominantly poetic form. Whereas Apollinaire speaks of artistically creating "a new realism" (L'Esprit nouveau, p. 390) or "a superior naturalism" ("surnaturalisme") in literature, Breton announces his belief in an already existing "superior reality" (Manifeste, p. 37) in life itself.
Source: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, p. 205
- In refusing the mantle of humanism, surrealism opened itself to the discomfiting possibility that its work would be overshadowed by the allure of terrorist action or of political expediency. Yet as the group's long-standing fascination with crime reveals, the movement was dedicated less to destroying al laws than to thwarting the tendency for experimental thought to become law. The surrealist experiment, then, might be understood as the attempt to mobilize art to "suppress the exploitation of man by man" by causing an insurrection within thought. Herein lies surrealism's essential contribution to twentieth-century thought: not, as Jean Clair claimed, in "preparing the mind" for the atrocities of terrorism and the Holocaust, but in preparing the mind to defend itself against the forms of ideological closure that ensure the continuation of such atrocities.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 276
- In several important ways, this is inherently rife with Bretonian Surrealist experience: The inner world is transformed by the outer world. Like in the beginning of Nadja, the outer world inaugurates a drawing out of the self where the encounter with ordinary objects transforms the self. There is no question that this modality of experience can be found here; and yet, Carrington ascribes a different role to the experience by claiming that she and the world mirrored each other.
This is why Carrington's introduction of the body into the Surrealist aesthetic has such important ramifications. Over and again, Surrealists like Breton characterize the nature of Surrealist experience as one of a transformation of the mind, whereas Carrington finds the body and the mind inextricable.
Source: Disruptive Testimonies: The Stakes of Surrealist Experience in Breton and Carrington, p. 99
- In such passages in Breton, photography intervenes in a very strange way. It makes the streets, gates, squares of the city into illustrations of a trashy novel, draws off the banal obviousness of this ancient architecture to inject it with the most pristine intensity toward the events described, to which, as in old chambermaids' books, word-for-word quotations with page numbers refer. And all the parts of Paris that appear here are places where what is between these people turns like a revolving door.
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 51
- In the case of a sexual or murderous exhibitionism, how do we judge it, unless we go back to the repression at its origin? The beauty of certain assaults upon modesty, or upon life, is that they accuse, with all their violence, the monstrosity of laws and the constraints that make monsters.
Source: Notes Towards a Psycho-dialectic, p. 266
- In the end surrealism cannot be considered purely as a style. It is a state of mind whose intensity and aggressive force must go to the point of modifying the course of its expression (it is not surrealism if expression is limited to the habitual platitude of language). It is also a state of mind which reaches towards unification; in which, through this union, an existence beyond the self is experienced as a spiritual authority in whose name it is possible to speak...And the spiritual authority (by spiritual I merely mean: beyond the individual) that surrealism embodies is surely not limited to the few people closely connected with André Breton.
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 55
- In the forties French thinkers were diligently exploring in two complementary spaces: anthropology and surrealism. Claude Levi-Strauss and his structuralist circle were reassessing a century of ethnological research, trying to find out what human nature is (and thus carrying on the quests of Rousseau and Fourier), how it came to culture from barbarity, how it tamed itself. Surrealism defies definition but is always recognizable, whether as a canvas by Giorgio de Chico or a play by Eugene Ionesco. Since its tactics are to disclose the illogical and the absurd through imaginative juxtaposition, it is technically a satiric art. Yet it differs widely from satire in that it is essentially poetic. Surrealism is the metaphysical poetry of satire.
From chapter: Civilization and Its Opposite in the 1940s
Source: The Hunter Gracchus and Other Papers on Literature & Art, p. 85-86
- In their perverse and anarchistic isolation of practical reason from aesthetic judgment, Peret and De Quincey each suggest that morality's very promise of sustaining a social order was itself a fantasy; morality -- what Kant called "practical reason" -- was instead a set of conventions that eclipsed the degree to which this social order was already collapsed, or, more precisely, to which the social order reproduced its own collapse as the necessary condition for its existence. For Peret and De Quincey alike, this phenomenon became especially visible in the contemporary rise in "great" murders of an exceptionally unmotivated, culturally symptomatic nature.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 56
- In this confused civilization, where resources are exhausted through complex activity, where every tree hides the forest, where exhaustion endlessly substitutes the multitude of petty, fraudulent results (the luxuries others do not have) for the possibilities of life, the artist has, in the solitude of his room, a power of ultimate decision. He can reveal and magnify this irreducible part that is within us, connected to our most tenacious aspirations: he has the power to offer the life the perspective of radiance...[F]or a writer to speak in the name of the positive destiny of mankind, about which he cares with his whole heart, with a sense of rage, as the fanatic speaks of the glory of God -- this is what seems so striking [in surrealism].
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 59
- It is clear that surrealism did not negate the objective world but in fact tried to sublate it in a dialectical manner: negating but also transmuting it in a new horizon of meaning. The iconoclastic sociologist Jean Baudrillard chides surrealism for remaining within the purview of realism, reinforcing it ironically by apotheosizing the imaginary. Refusing the antithesis between the real and imaginary by positing the "hyperreal," Baudrillard tries to outdo the surrealists by locating the unreal "in the real's hallucinatory resemblance to itself" (1984, 71).
Source: Working Through the Contradictions: From Cultural Theory to Critical Practice, p. 124
- It is criminography -- the notion of crime as an art, as a form of inscription -- that provides the epistemological basis for the surrealist analysis of historical transformation. In its composite nature and paradoxical relationship to science and the empirical world, criminography, like surrealism itself, tends toward the discontinuous, at once demanding and producing analysis.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 9
- It is difficult humanly to measure the powerlessness of those who renounce discursive language. Surrealism is mutism: if it spoke it would cease to be what it wanted to be, but if it failed to speak it could only lend itself to misunderstanding.
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 56
- It is not surprising, then, that when Breton had to deal with women participants in his own movement, he chose ones that he thinks he can deploy as Surrealist tropes of the female, as women who are stand-ins for the various aspects of Surrealist aesthetics. If Prassinos's inclusion in the Anthologie de l'humour noir can be seen as a token gesture to showcase the Surrealist trope of the "child-woman," then Carrington is obviously introduced as the embodiment of the "femme-folle," the madwoman.
Source: Disruptive Testimonies: The Stakes of Surrealist Experience in Breton and Carrington, p. 97
- It is not up to any of us to suppress capitalist reality;...we can each set ourselves a clearly defined target, like the suppression of capitalism, but it does not by any means follow that we can go beyond the capitalist world in which we exist into the world which will follow on from it...Whether we like it or not, we are enclosed in the capitalist world; we are reduced to conscious analyses of our present position, and we cannot directly know what life would be like in a world in which personal interest would have been suppressed. The first necessity for us in this respect is the sincere comprehension of all that happens, leading to a will to transform the world.
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 79
- It is not with conscious ideology but with what I call implicit social knowledge that I am here concerned, with what moves people without their knowing quite why or quite how, with what makes the real real and the normal normal, and above al with what makes ethical distinctions politically powerful. And in stressing the implicitness of this knowledge, which is also part of its power in social life, I think we are directed away from obvious to what Roland Barthes called obtuse meaning in his analysis of images and their difference from signs...
It is with imagery in the constitution of power/knowledge that the Putumayo world I am looking t is much concerned. And it is very much this obtuse and not the obvious meanings of imagery that leap to the mind's eye -- as in the sliding stops and starts of the phantasmagoria of the yagé nights, no less than in the social relations embedded in sorcery and in the trances that wander through rulers' minds as they are being carried over mountains.
I take implicit social knowledge to be an essentially inarticulable and imageric non discursive knowing of social relationally, and in trying to understand the way that history and memory interact in the constituting of this knowledge, I wish to raise some questions about the way that certain historical events, notably political events of conquest and colonization, become objectified in the contemporary shamanic repertoire as magically empowered imagery capable of causing as well as relieving misfortune.
Source: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man, p. 366-367
- It seems certain, my friends, that we're dropping our prey to chase after shadows again, that we plumb the depths of the abyss quite in vain.
Source: A Wave of Dreams, p. 42
- It was hard to force Evan and Garth to notice my questions, but I learned a few things. They'd lived in the Dada-ready-made reality for about a week, wading through the ball bearings and wool, feeding on ice cream and barbecued duck. Then they'd climbed back over the table, into Lack, and emerged here, where they settled unquestioningly. Sure, they argued about whether they were alive or dead, whether they'd woken from a long dream or fallen into one, but they also argued over the location of specific fire hydrants, and about the chances of judging the amount of ink left in a ballpoint pen by weighing it in your hand. They were happy here. They were home.
Source: As She Climbed Across the Table, p. 203
- Lacan differentiates, in order to better understand their connection, what has been subjectively experienced from what might be objectively certified...Actually, it is a matter of throwing light upon the inside s well as the outside. There is no choosing one light over another, because neither has enough rays of its own against the darkness that has been cast around and at the centre of a vital problem for so long. The facts of this problem were not so much assumed, strictly speaking, as debated, in all their moving details, on the occasion of paranoiac psychosis, which affects the entire personality, prolongs it, develops it, and serves as its magnifying and clarifying mirror. Thanks to this highly sensitive microscope, we notice the interdependence of internal and external phenomena.
Source: Notes Towards a Psycho-dialectic, p. 266
- Lacan suggests...that the real effects of social relations on the subject -- so readily misrecognized, in the case of the Papin sisters, as direct class oppression -- become recognizable as motives for the crime only insofar as they become visible as motifs. Indeed his title, "Motifs du crime paranoaique," suggests that, in this sequel to his earlier article on paranoiac style, the French term motifs can signify both causal motives and stylistic motifs. That is, Lacan's study of motive stresses how the structure of psychosis involves a simultaneous interpretation and representation of lived reality; within this structure, social and material conditions are manifest not merely as the facts that a subject represents to herself, but also as the determining forces that the unconscious must represent to the consciousness.
Christopher Lane has argued that this psychotic structure -- which is not political in itself, since the people involved are unaware of its meaning -- may be politicized insofar as its motifs, its exhibitionism, provide a reminder of "the fragile supports on which subjectivity is so reliant, and the way each precarious identification fosters an illusion of psychical stability."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 193
- Lacan's attention to the historical basis of psychiatry [in Minotaure I] is meant to dislodge the practice of diagnosis from questions of criminal responsibility or irresponsibility, which risked reducing definitions of insanity to a moral choice policed by the state...For Lacan, the disciplines brought together in Minotaure -- artistic, psychiatric, and theoretical -- were all necessary to the study of mental illness, since paranoia reveals the work of signification and imagery in the formation of subjectivity, and not just within the fields of cultural and artistic production alone. Lacan's work on the Papin sisters builds on his description, in the first issue of Minotaure, of paranoiac lived experience as an "original syntax," a mode of symbolic expression that could be at once intentional and yet still determined by real social tensions.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 190, 191-92
- Latin civilization is over and done for and, as for me, I ask that not a single finger be lifted to save it. At present, it is the last bastion of bad faith, of decrepitude, and of cowardice. Compromise, trickery, promises of peace, vacant mirrors, selfishness, military dictionaries, the resurgence of foppishness, the return to the Church, the eight-hour work day, burials worse than in plague years, sports: one might as well just throw up one's hands. If I show some concern for my lot, it is not in order to fatalistically resign myself to the vulgar consequences of those chance circumstances that caused me to be born here or there. Let others be devoted to their family, to their country, to the earth even -- count me out of the competition.
Source: Introduction to the Discourse on the Paucity of Reality, p. 143
- Laughter bubbled up like clouds of smoke...Smoke bubbled up like clouds of laughter...Bubbles smoked up like the laughter of clouds. I imagined the bobbling heads that made up the maze as balloons, tied to the floor by the strings of our bodies. Then I pictured them cut loose, to bob and roll, still laughing and smoking, along the surface of the ceiling.
Source: As She Climbed Across the Table, p. 179
- Leroux's detective mystery appealed to the surrealists for its suggestion that the novel's mechanics were designed to manufacture evidence and false trails as forms of literary experience which the locked room apparatus set in play.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 44
- Let us not forget that it is only our belief in some sort of practical necessity that keeps us from granting the same value to the testimony of a poet that we would grant, say, to the testimony of an explorer. Man's fetishistic need to don sun helmets or stroke coonskin caps means that we listen to the narratives of expeditions with an altogether different ear. We absolutely need to believe that things actually did happen.
Source: Introduction to the Discourse on the Paucity of Reality, p. 142
- Liberty begins where the Marvelous is born.
Source: A Wave of Dreams, p. 29
- Like Freud's depiction of the dream-work as the condensed and distorted projection of unconscious wishes, Desnos's poetic and cinematic marvelous eluded the conventional censorship of commercial narratives. It described instead a space beyond good and evil that Desnos attempted, in turn, to reconcile with the real. This reconciliation, he argues in a 1924 essay, is the "revolutionary" goal of surrealism, and, more specifically, of surrealist ethics as "the sense of life and not the observance of human laws." Yet whereas Breton argued for the inextricability of socioeconomic revolution from a surrealist liberation of the mind, Desnos's understanding of revolution privileged the latter aim...Desnos writes:
"They are a gang -- from the priest to the professor -- who invoke the spirit, who make a living from it, and who make it serve the lowest ends. It's against them, and against this deformed spirit, that the surrealists mean to fight. 'You claim to ruin bourgeois painting and yet you make paintings. Go and destroy the Louvre,' people told me on the way out of the surrealist exhibition. If we destroyed the paintings in the Louvre we would be individualists. Likewise you don't just go out and shoot fascist delegates. But you fight the capitalist spirit. Right now it's less a matter of carrying out revolution than of preparing for a battle of opinion."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 128-129
- Like Himes, Breton argued that writing provided the means for exploring and understanding the forces -- good and evil, and often painful and unconscious -- that structure lived experience. But it was no substitute for political violence, for actual rebellion. Instead, as the surrealist photographer and writer Claude Cahun writes in her 1934 polemic Les Paris son ouverts (The Bets Are Open), the strength of poetic language lies in its resistance to the cognitive certainty presumed by propaganda and protest writing alike: it "keeps its secret" even as it paradoxically "hands over its secret [livre son secret].
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 263
- Lukács challenged European modernism in general and German expressionism in particular for their irrationalism, subjectivism, and utopianism. Essays like "Greatness and Decline of Expressionism" (1934) and "Realism in the Balance" (1938) maintain that fashionable avant-garde trends helped create the cultural preconditions in which fascism could thrive. Lukács' alternative was a form of "critical realism" perhaps best exemplified in the works of Honore de Balzac, Leo Tolstoy, and Thomas Mann.
Source: Critical Theory, p. 66
- May the recent events have taught France and the world that liberty can only subsist in a dynamic state, that it becomes denatured and negates itself at the moment when one makes of it a museum piece...Humanity's aspirations for liberty must always be given the power to recreate themselves endlessly; that's why it must be thought of not as a state but as a living force bringing about continual progress...Liberty is not, like liberation, a struggle against sickness, it is health.
Source: Arcanum 17, p. 126,128
- Monnerot argues that "the slightest dream is more perfect than the best poem because it is by definition concretely adequate to the dreamer for whom it is an individually historical fact." Toward the realization of this dream, he claims that what will be required is something akin to Georges Bataille's theory of heterology, a means of pursuing the ways in which "directed thought, science, and industry will be able to serve as vehicles for dream."...Indeed, having read Bataille's work from the early 1930s, Monnerot began to work toward an extensive sociological study of forms of sacred experience that bring forth such "waking dream states" as group phenomena...Monnerot's emphasis on the collective experience of a poetics without language would help to bring about the eventual reconciliation of the surrealists with Bataille in the mid 1930s.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 172
- Muller's sense of the "world of reality" to be discredited differed enormously from Dali's: for Muller, what was currently under siege was the "man-made" fabric of European social relations rent apart by fascism, its humanist claims demolished by Hitler's genocidal politics of hatred. The surrealists, though, implicated reality as the set of "learned machinations" that resulted in the West's complicity, conscious or unconscious, with the rise and militarization of fascism.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 240
- My brain was like an ivy near where swallows fly. Thoughts were darting around me like a sky that was loud and dark with birds but none came into me or near enough. Forever in my ear was the click of heavy shutting doors, the whine of boughs trailing their loose leaves in a swift springing and the clang of hobnails on metal plates.
Source: The Third Policeman, p. 124
- My long dark hair is soft like cat's fur, I am beautiful. This is quite a shock because I have just realised that I am beautiful and there is something that I must do about it, but what? Beauty is a responsibility like anything else, beautiful women have special lives like prime ministers but that is not what I really want, there must be something else...
Source: The Hearing Trumpet, p. 15
- Neither funny nor especially comic in the generic sense, black humor (l'humour noir) describes the quality of indifference with which certain writers portray acts of injustice, destruction, and evil in their works. this indifference, Breton suggests, is social as well as aesthetic or analytical; it yields a means of perception undistorted by morality or law, and it thus offers, too, a form of intellectual commerce Breton describes as "the mysterious exchange of humorous pleasure between individuals." This pleasure was not necessarily joyful. Indeed in both its prewar and postwar historical contexts, black humor paraded a degree of stylistically and moral recklessness -- a jouissance -- at odds with an era of serious political commitment; yet this exchange of humorous pleasure paradoxically gave voice to unconscious political desires, including forms of anger and unrest otherwise inadmissible to intellectual discourse.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 244
- Never a body here always the murder without proof
Never the sky always the silence
Never freedom but for freedom
[extract from "No Grounds for Prosecution" by Andre Breton, translated by Paul Auster]
Source: Collected Poems, p. 170
- No longer an autonomous political reactionary [i.e., in the famous Berton-with-surrealists collage], Berton has been made into an object to which others react. As I have suggested, this transformation is critical to surrealist praxis more broadly: such an objectified, aestheticized figure becomes a spur for the derangement of systematic thought rather than a model for imitation. This, I propose, is how it became possible for Germaine Berton to serve as both an object and an influence for the surrealist group.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 93
- 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?
Source: Paris Peasant, p. 59
- On every occasion, and at every stage, the Surrealists invoked the desired unity of poetry, love and revolt.
Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 50
- One difference between writing "in a surrealist mode" and writing fantasy or magical realism is that the latter require suspension of disbelief. The former requires suspension of belief.
Source: Random Thoughts, p.
- Oscillating between Trotskyite and neo-anarchist political affiliation throughout the 1950s, surrealism's postwar project was oriented toward defending political and intellectual freedom against the military and ideological state apparatuses that worked to suppress it. Thus, although it recalled the anti colonialism of the 120s in its political imperative, by the mid-1950s surrealism's project was not defined in the same terms as its prewar incarnations; rather than seeking to incite revolutionary thought of action through their works, the surrealists instead committed themselves to defending and extending such thought and action as it happened.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 271
- Our indifference to the usual labels was inseparable from our rejection of the traditional left's ideological pigeonholing, and its pitifully narrow vision of life and the world. None of us regarded revolutionary theory as dogma to be memorized, or a "finished program" that needed only to be carried out. Theories at best were inspirations to play with, challenges to be taken up, suggestions to build on, or take apart, or push into unexpected directions. This open-ended outlook, largely inspired by the IWW hobo intellectual tradition, is also characteristic of surrealism.
Source: Dancin' in the Streets, p. 41
- Out of the darkness, like the face of a drowned man out of the sea, the house across the street was rising pale and expressionless. It was near dawn. The blanket crawled over him like a caterpillar.
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 39
- Paranoia was...politically valuable for the way its auto-punitive structure systematically accuses the very ideological forces and "accepted formulas" that Carrington attempts to purge from her system in the opening pages of Down Below. For Crevel, as for Carrington, these accepted formulas, this "thick layer of filth," represented the full force of bourgeois social conditioning on which the spread of fascism throughout Europe was predicated. In this light, the cure for paranoia did not simply mean a reduction of the illness's symptoms...but, more significantly, required a recognition of the subject's self-punishing drive as having a social genesis.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 228
- Paranoia, Dali argues, systematizes a mental crisis which is analogous to hallucination, yet which expresses itself instead in terms of recognizable and empirically verifiable evidence. As paranoia calls on the exterior world to validate its obsessive ideas, its troubling power derives from its exacting particularity; as Dali writes: "Paranoia uses the external world to assert the obsessive idea, with its disturbing characteristic of making this idea's reality valid to others. The reality of the external world serves as illustration and proof, and is placed in the service of the reality of our mind." Dali notes the "inconceivable subtlety" of paranoiacs, who take advantage "of motives and facts so refined as to escape normal people" and thus "reach conclusions that are often impossible to contradict or reject." As a result, these "conclusions," in the form of simulacra, can at their most powerful compete with, and even displace, reality itself. "It is because of their failure to cohere with reality," Dali writes, "and because of the arbitrary element in their presence, that simulacra can easily assume the form of reality and that reality, in its turn, adapts itself to the violences committed by simulacra."
Unlike what Breton would call the surrealism of its mid-1920s "rational phase," Dali's paranoia-critique no longer relied on accurate critique to expose the ideological excesses of contemporary society. Instead it mechanically -- yet critically -- misinterpreted reality in order to provoke a "crisis in consciousness" that would dislodge contemporary thinking from its ideologically overdetermined sense of the real.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 162
- Perversely, Clair's absurdist condensation of historical causality insists upon the contemporary significance of avant-garde movements. In the case of surrealism, the group's violent rhetorical and poetic practices are no longer relegated to a quaint corner of literary and aesthetic history (as they often are in the U.S.), but are instead implicated in a much greater contemporary crisis in humanism. Indeed, Clair insists upon surrealism's genealogical ties to more recent anti-humanist thinkers, from Lacan and Debord to Deleuze and Baudrillard, who likewise refused to keep their radical ideas out of everyday affairs. This is consistent, Clair reminds us, with the nature of avant-gardism, whose cultural position is based on collapsing the distinction between "art" and "life." This collapse bears ethical as well as aesthetic consequences: what is at stake, for instance, when avant-garde rhetoric is spiked with appeals to violence, as well as with practices that tend toward the dissolution of humanistic ideals? How, and to what extent, do the more incendiary tactics of a movement like surrealism "prepare the mind?" And for what do they prepare it?
Source: Object Lessons: Surrealist Art, Surrealist Politics, p. 178
- Philippe Soupault for many years was recognised by his curly hair alone, he used to talk to chair upholsterers and laugh unnervingly near noon.
Source: A Wave of Dreams, p. 38
- Rarely was Benjamin able to wean himself from his infatuation with melancholia -- no easy task for a soul so firmly wedded to the redemptive promise of a past whose quintessential feature lay in its premonition of catastrophe. Surrealism did, however, evoke in him an appreciation for the ways by which laughter could crack open the world, exposing the raw nerve-endings of the politicized imagician's zone of struggle -- where "the long-sought image sphere is opened...the sphere, in a word, in which political materialism and physical nature share the inner man." For if surrealism tried to change that sorcery-bundle of mythical representations on which Western culture is based, and did so using images that levered wide contradictions opening the doorway to the marvelous, its own representing had to be both iconic and ironic -- bringing to mind not only Freud's analysis of the unconscious imagery mined and subverted by jokes, but also Mikhail Bakhtin's and Georges Bataille's fascination with anarchist poetics blending the grotesque and the humorous in carnival-like upheavals of degradation and renewal.
And here I think the Latin American "magical realism" of the novelists and their critics fares poorly. There is truth in Carpentier's claim that the Europeans were forcing open the door to the marvelous in their own society with brutish despair, whereas in the colonies those doors stood ajar if not fully open. But neither in his work nor in that of Arguedas, Asturias, or Garcia Marquez, is, to my mind, the force of laughter and anarchy punctuating the misty realm of the marvelous to be heard. Too often the wonder that sustains their stories is represented in accord with a long-standing tradition of folklore, the exotic, and indigenismo that in oscillating between the cute and the romantic is little more than the standard ruling class appropriation of what is held to be the sensual vitality of the common people and their fantasy life. Yet to the surrealists, precisely because of the acute self-consciousness that went hand in hand with the aforementioned "brutish despair," there lay engraved as axiomatic the wonder and irritation expressed by the nose specialist in Berlin, Wilhelm Fliess, who, upon reading the page proofs of his good friend Dr. Freud's Interpretation of Dreams in the autumn of 1899, complained that the dreams were too full of jokes.
Source: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man, p. 201-202
- Rather than targeting popular magazines or specific bourgeois cultural institutions -- what Sadoul called "the function of the industrial power of a bourgeois nation" -- Dali targeted la conscience itself as an ideological apparatus policing bourgeois class relations.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 161
- Recognizing the popular and clinical impact of crime to be an admixture of fiction and fact, the surrealists viewed crime as a phenomenon of the marvelous, an event characterized by the discrepancies and excesses it brought to light. Louis Aragon, in a series of aphorisms published in 1925, refers to this phenomenal quality as "the contradiction that reveals itself within the real." Aragon would later uphold this phenomenon as a mechanism for political change, arguing that the marvelous provides a means for diagnosing crises within existing political and cultural orders, as well as for attacking, in turn, the ideological forces that sustain them as reality...The surrealist fascination with crime is fundamental, I propose, to the movement's collective project, a radical synthesis of diverse fields of knowledge that sought to transform the ordering systems through which we understand and experience modern life.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 1-2
- Rene Crevel's 1933 essay "Notes toward a Psycho-dialectic" makes precisely this theoretical move [i.e., a surrealist theory that expands the fields of Marxist inquiry beyond its own orthodox presuppositions]. Published in the same issue of SASDLR as Eduard and Peret's review off the press coverage of the Papin sisters, Crevel's article uses Jacques Lacan's recent doctoral thesis on paranoia to articulate how psychotic crime could provide a means for better understanding political expression. Crevel thus revises Aragon's justification of violent insurrection as a function of "visionary" class awareness, instead describing proletarian revolution as a gradual process of increasing consciousness as a subject...
Lacan's 1932 thesis on paranoia was appealing to Crevel because it allowed him to expound a materialist theory of unconscious development, which stressed the social rather than the constitutional, genetic, or even instinctual development of paranoia's delusional system. Lacan's study of paranoia stands in opposition to the two major French theories of the illness: the notion of automatism, which understood the mind as series of automatic functions, and of constitutionalism, which understood the mind as organically fixed in its irregularities. Lacan's theoretical breakthrough was to propose instead that paranoia is a delusional system with an emphatically social basis, a condition brought about through the dialectical interplay between the subject and other people. Lacan's theory of paranoia does not simply reject the patient's delusional structure, through which the subject strikes out against her own ego-ideal in the form of a persecuting enemy, as a false or alien theory of persecution; it understands the illness as already a synthesis of conscious perception and unconscious judgment. By studying the social conditions that contribute to paranoia, Lacan thus structures his own theory as a dialectical extension of the illness itself.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 185-186
- Revel became disgusted with what he considered the porto-surrealists' enchantment with unconscious (or mediumistic) imagery as imagery, and not as a true conduit for self-exploration, which would demand the anxiety and discomfort that lay in the expression of the "subterranean work of thoughts"...[T]he surrealist exploration of psychoanalysis, automatic writing and mediumistic activity should not, Crevel argued, simply highlight the beauty and intrigue of psychoanalytic symptoms, the products and projections of unconscious processes; these practices should rather demand an encounter, however difficult or traumatic, with the desires and motives that guide them...Crevel's attacks against what he considered surrealism's tendencies toward abstraction and aestheticism stressed that the unconscious is not a treasure trove but a dangerous mechanism; its recourse to the absolute is made possible only by its terrifying and terroristic intimacy with desire and death.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 70,71
- Rushdie's political aim is familiar: through modestly experimental devices -- multiple narrators, time shifts, the violation of realistic decorum by improbable coincidences, magical events -- to liberate the reader from the tyranny of an inerrant text. As in DeLillo's Libra, Robert Coover's Public Burning, or J.G. Farrell's Empire trilogy, storytelling in The Satanic Verses is meant to act on a world already saturated by narratives, urging the reader to consider an alternative perspective, hoping to free up some space in the real world for another interpretation of the patriotic myth, the official version, the sacred text....The Rushdie affair has become the exemplary instance of the postmodernist political novel encountering actual politics, actual violence.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 21
- Ruth, Harvey thought as he did so, has been crying a lot over the past few weeks, crying and laughing. I noticed, but I didn't notice.
Source: The Only Problem, p. 411
- She tried to remember what she had been bidden, but she could not. That did not matter; in this blessed place it would be shown to her. She walked slowly up the platform, and as she went the whole air and appearance o the station changed. With every step she took a vibration passed through the light; the people about her became shadowy; her own consciousness of them was withdrawn. She moved in something of a trance, unaware of the quickening of the process of time, or rather of her passing through time...These were the precincts of felicity.
Source: All Hallows' Eve, p. 48
- Since Bakunin, Europe has lacked a radical concept of freedom. The Surrealists have one. They are the first to liquidate the sclerotic liberal- moral-humanistic ideal of freedom, because they are convinced that 'freedom, which on this earth can only be bought with a thousand of the hardest sacrifices, must be enjoyed unrestrictedly in its fullness without any kind of pragmatic calculation, as long as it lasts.'...To win the energies of intoxication for the revolution -- this is the project about which Surrealism circles in all its books and enterprises...And the most passionate investigation of the hashish trance will not teach us half as much about thinking (which is eminently narcotic), as the profane illumination of thinking about the hashish trance. The reader, the thinker, the loiterer, the flâneur, are types of illuminati just as much as the opium eater, the dreamer, the ecstatic. And more profane. Not to mention that most terrible drug -- ourselves -- which we take in solitude.
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 54
- Sleeping and waking are not quite as distinctive as they used to be, I often mix them up. My memory is full of all sorts of stuff which is not, perhaps, in chronological order, but there is a lot of it. So I pride myself on having an excellent faculty of miscellaneous recall.
Source: The Hearing Trumpet, p. 23
- So sound moved him more than hearing, vision more than sight, and his instinct sucked Truth, like honey, from the flower of Life, disdaining the syllogistic distillation of the comb. Briefly, he listened to the melody, not the words, of the Eternal Song, and he was just the person -- perhaps the only one alive -- to imagine there was any discoverable meaning in such a passage as this, when he found it in a book.
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 41
- Someone who sits comfortably, forgetting to the greatest degree what exists so as to write at random on a blank sheet the most vibrant delirium which passes through his mind, may end up with nothing of literary value. He knows that this is of no importance; he has experienced a possibility which represents an unconditional rupture with the world in which we act to feed ourselves, in which we act to cover and shelter ourselves. He has essentially undertaken an act of insubordination, in one sense he has performed a sovereign act. At the same time, he has accomplished what, within the meaning of religion itself, could appear predominant: he has achieved the destruction of the personality itself...[H]e must forget what the man of letters expects of publications, by the necessity of doing what, in spite of everything, all the surrealists have done to a certain point -- that is, carve out a literary career.
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 76
- Sometimes such a visitor, influenced by fashion, would declare himself for Idealism but all I could see was yet another shame-faced realist, like so many well-meaning men these days, subsisting on a compromise between Kant and Comte. By abandoning the commonplace notion of reality for the concept of reality within they believe they have made a great leap forward -- but their idol, the Noumenon, has been exposed as a very mediocre piece of plaster...[T]here are other experiences that the mind can embrace which are equally fundamental such as chance, illusion, the fantastic, dreams. These different types of experience are brought together and reconciled in one genre, Surreality.
Source: A Wave of Dreams, p. 16-17
- Soupault's modernist update of the dime novel franchise recasts Carter, the white American detective, as the agent in an oneiric narrative of pursuit in which Carter dies.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 101
- Staging paranoia's reflexive play of delusional identifications as an artistic problem, I argue, offered the surrealists a critical system for diagnosing the social forces that threatened to replicate themselves in the age of fascism...Salvador Dali's "Non-Euclidean Psychology of a Photograph," published in Minotaure in 1935, most succinctly illuminates surrealism's "paranoiac" strategy of overlooking an obvious threat in order to highlight broader, more latent evils.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 233
- Such a polymath assortment of creative and critical practices poses a challenge for scholars, for it frustrates any notion of "surrealism" or the "surreal" as either a stable set of concepts or a static group of artists and writers.
Source: Object Lessons: Surrealist Art, Surrealist Politics, p. 177
- Surrealism and its impact on literature and art count as a kind of cultural or aesthetic terrorism (Eburne, 2006), and its psychologically shocking methods of activating the unconscious evoke certain parallels to shock doctrines of paramilitary terrorist attacks (Lindemann, 2001). Surrealism as a theoretical design also evokes some parallels with military terror practices such as gas attacks or with terrorist attacks against social infra- structure, civil society and psychic health, because both are indirect, 'contextual' attacks not directly targeting the adversary's military body but its living environment (Sloterdijk, 2006, 2009). Quasi-surrealistic communication practices of camouflage and disorienting attention are also used for military concerns, for example, in the so-called war on terror (Taussig, 2008). In the eyes of certain controversial observers, surrealism thus represents a relevant inspiration or a decisive cultural element responsible to a certain degree ideologically for terrorist occurrences throughout and beyond the 20th century, up to the suicide attacks on 11 September 2001 in the United States (Clair, 2001). But there also exist clear arguments against this interpretation, claiming that the rhetoric of violence and terror as cultural phenomena does not necessarily mean or imply terrorism in the sense of physical violence (Eburne, 2006; Hecken, 2006; Lindemann, 2001). There is no necessary link, and, in any case, several intermediate steps lie between symbolic destruction by surrealism and physical violence by terrorists. Nevertheless, surrealism obviously represents a kind of 'war within and in particular against the public sphere' (Lindemann, 2001: 21).
Source: Surrealistic communication as symbolic terrorism: The example of Marcel Mariën’s theory of political campaigning, p. 195
- Surrealism and PR worked within the same field of interest (How to organize society by communication?) and employed similar means but they developed different strategies with regard to different ends ('How to orient society in a specific direction?' versus 'How to encourage people to develop their own ways and aims?')...
Surrealism took off from this point to launch the critique of a too-statically organized mass society, answering to demands of economy, politics and science but not to the individual. This society thus had to be dismantled and rebuilt. Mariën's programme of triggering self-organized revolutionary activities by crowds envisaged achieving this by communicative campaigning. This paradoxical idea of 'non-leading' represented a remarkable difference compared to Bernays' interest of arranging society in an 'objectively' proper way. For Bernays (1928), the problem is not that we start with a too static organization but rather that society is in a state of 'chaos' which needs to be put in proper order by PR (pp.9–18). The irrational masses needed to be oriented by rational elites towards rational objectives, that is, to bring 'an idea to the consciousness of the public' (Bernays, 1928: 38). Therefore, in Bernays' (1928) vision the 'conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society' (p.9).
Source: Surrealistic communication as symbolic terrorism: The example of Marcel Mariën’s theory of political campaigning, p. 202,203
- 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.
Source: Psychedelic Art, p. 97
- Surrealism's task, in the movement's early years, would be to redeploy these [realist] forms in ways that would call attention to their epistemological function -- their historical status as indices of the real -- and yet suspend their totalizing function as guarantors of noumenal experience...Its strength lies in its capacity for multiplying, rather than for artificially solving, difference and uncertainty...Just as Roussel's sensational machines assassinate description with description, Soupault's "Au Clair de la lune" invokes the locked room apparatus of a detective mystery in order to assassinate the interpretive function of detection and the return to social order it promises.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 36
- Surrealist poetry may be largely of French origin, but it certainly did not begin with the publication of the first surrealist manifesto in 1924. Guillermo de Torre in his perceptive study published in the following year, Literaturas Europeas de Vanguardia, saw absolutely none of the originality that Breton claimed for his allegedly new movement...Marcel Raymond has also pointed out that the movement proclaimed by Breton had previously arisen in several places. Breton' insistence on the primacy of dream and vision and his repudiation of conscious control in the creative act corresponded on the plane of technique to what poets had been doing for over a decade before the outbreak of la Révolution Surréaliste. Historically, it is difficult to justify the identification of Breton and literary surrealism, yet this identification is by now almost a commonplace of literary history, tacitly assumed at least as often as it is asserted.
Source: Surrealism and Modern Poetry: Outline of an Approach, p. 175
- Surrealist political thought of this period [mid to late 20s] derived much of its polemical energy from its discussions and arguments about collective action, which invoked dime novel villains and other fictional criminals. The resistance of these figures to discipline and co-optation might have seemed to make them anathema to any viable political understanding. Such pulp criminal figures were central to surrealist political thought, however, rather than exceptions to it -- whether Desnos's fascination with Fantomas and Jack the Ripper; Soupault's interest in Edgar Manning, the black criminal dandy of his novel Le Negre (1927); Breton's obsession with real and fictional deranged women in Nadja (1928); or Crevel's tragic pursuit of the elusive Arthur Bruggle in La Mort difficile (1926). The appeal of such characters was in part their privileged access to urban underworlds, as well as their ambiguous status as figures of "absolute liberty."...Indeed, even as its leftist turn demanded a greater call to order, the movement continued to summon the convulsive forces of dissent and discussion around which the group had come into being.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 98
- Taking into account the well-known 'revolutionary' spirit of surrealism and its reputation as a kind of 'cultural terrorism' or even as a kind of catalytic converter to establish a culture favourable to 'real' terrorism, the question arises, whether Marcel Mariën’s surrealistic campaigning concept represents a kind of terrorist communication theory.
Source: Surrealistic communication as symbolic terrorism: The example of Marcel Mariën’s theory of political campaigning, p. 194
- The "great constructions of the intellect" -- whether concepts such as Revolution, Justice, "Decency and Integrity," or movements such as surrealism and communism -- are never truly revolutionary or shocking because their aim of imposing a conceptual order fails to indulge the "desire to see" that resurrects L'Oeil de la Police, and even X Marks the Spot, from their idealism. Whereas human life, Bataille claims, "always more or less conforms to the image of a soldier obeying commands in his drill," the inverse is true of spectacles of horror. The "sudden cataclysms, great popular manifestations of madness, riots, enormous revolutionary slaughters" all manifest an inevitable backlash against this image.
In this context Sade becomes the true revolutionary to the extent that the "desire to see" which is exercised in his works is as cataclysmic and as unredeemable as the madness of crowds...[T]he Revolution was not the product of rhetoric or intentional political speech but the consequence of a collective desire to participate in Sade's scream...The screamer, according to Bataille, had truly stared into the darkest recesses of horror without seeking refuge in a "prison" of intellect, and this scream was itself seductive in turn.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 153
- The bases of a practical approach to religion were laid down in L'Action immédiate by René Magritte, E.L.T. Mesens, Paul Nougé, Louis Scutenaire and André Souris:
We are convinced that what has been done to oppose religion up to now has been virtually without effect and that new means of action must be envisaged.
At the present time the Surrealists are the people best fitted to undertake this task. So as not to lose any time, we must aim for the head: the outrageous history of religions should be made known to all, the lives of young priests should be made unbearable, and all sects and organizations of the Salvation Army or of the Evangelical variety should be discredited by means of every kind of mockery our imagination can devise. Think how exhilarating it would be if we could persuade the better part of our youth to mount a well prepared and systematic campaign of disruption of church services, baptisms, communions, funerals and so on. Meanwhile roadside crosses might usefully be replaced by images promoting erotic love or poetically eulogizing the natural surroundings, particularly if these happen to be grim.
Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 41
- The best-known development during this period [1932-ish, the Age d'or affair] was Dali's invention of paranoia-critique, a response to Bataille's critique of surrealism that was designed to counteract what Aragon identified as "the revenge of censorship on the unconscious." In Dali's paranoia-critique, Andre Masson's early notion of a "physical idea of the Revolution" found a new incarnation as a psychic mechanism whose "revolutionary" potential Dali advocated in an essay printed in the first issue of Le Surrealisme au Service de la Revolution in 1930, titled 'L'ane pourri" (The Rotting Donkey). Dali's theory of paranoia heeds Bataille's claim that it is through participation in spectacles of violence, rather than through grand ideals or "irons of intellect," that it becomes possible to overthrow existing ideological frameworks. Yet Dali strongly disagreed with Bataille's presumption that such spectacles were natural occurrences that could be experienced without idealism or fancy concepts. Dali argue that the Bataillean effect of spectacular participation could instead be produced through the capacity of paranoia for generating simulacra whose presence vies with other "images of reality"; as a result, one's ideologically overdetermined confidence in such images would begin to self-destruct.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 161
- The blood-red juice of dawn was staining the edges of the funnel of mountains encircling the town, as it lay like a crust of scurf in the plain. The streets were tunnels of shadows, through which the earliest workmen were setting out like phantoms in the emptiness of a world that was created anew every morning...
Source: El Senor Presidente, p. 18
- The competition was now in full flow, and Fresia intervened once more. 'Why are aspirins different from iguanas? Because have you tried swallowing an iguana?'
"That's enough," said Simei. "This is schoolboy stuff. Don't forget, our readers aren't intellectuals. They haven't read about the surrealists, who used to make exquisite corpses, as they called them. Our readers would take it all seriously and think we were mad. Come on, we're fooling around, we have work to do."
Source: Numero Zero, p. 72-73
- The critical function of the subject has given way to the ironic function of the object...No longer any need to confront objects with the absurdity of their functions, in a poetic unreality, as the Surrealists did: things move to shed an ironic light on themselves all on their own; they discard their meanings effortlessly.
Source: The Perfect Crime, p. 75
- The crucial event in the history of this phase of modern poetry is not the publication of the Manifeste du Surréalisme in 1924, but the cataclysm of 1914-1918. It is no surprise that the adolescence of almost every important surrealist poet should coincide with these dates. Confronted by a chaotic world seemingly bereft of values, poets turned within themselves for a source of authenticity and certitude...As early as 1915, [Pierre] Reverdy emphasized the role of dreams and the distortion of external reality in creating an alogical, irregular poetry, rising out of the juxtaposition and clash of discordant planes of experience.
Source: Surrealism and Modern Poetry: Outline of an Approach, p. 177
- The danger into which reason (in the most general and arguable sense of the term) places us by submitting works of the mind to its unbending dogmas, by not allowing us to choose the mode of expression that does us the least disservice -- this danger, without doubt, is far from having been averted. The pathetic supervisors who dog our steps even after we have graduated from school still make their rounds in our homes, in our life. They make sure that we always call a spade a spade and since we just keep on smiling nicely, they don't necessarily pack us off to prison or commit us to asylums.
Source: Introduction to the Discourse on the Paucity of Reality, p. 142
- The double image (an example of which might be the image of a horse that is at the same time the image of a woman) may be extended, continuing the paranoiac process, with the existence of another obsessive idea being sufficient for the emergence of a third image (the image of a lion, for example) and thus in succession until the concurrence of a number of images would be limited only be the extent of the mind's paranoiac capacity.
I submit to a materialist analysis the type of mental crisis that might be provoked by such an image; I submit to it the far more complex problem of determining which of these images has the highest potential for existence, once the intervention of desire is accepted; and also the more serious and general question whether a series of such representations accepts a limit, or, whether, as we have every reason to believe, such a limit does not exist, or exists merely as a function of each individual's paranoiac capacity.
Source: The Rotting Donkey, p. 257
- The great enemy of mankind is opacity. This opacity is outside him and above all within him, where conventional ideas and all sorts of dubious defenses maintain it.
Source: Arcanum 17, p. 58
- The imperative to "mobilize all the powers of the imagination" defined the surrealist movement's political commitment in the years following the Rif War.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 126
- The intransigence to which Breton refers thus became, in Eluard's words, a function of the parallel course of surrealism's "political aspirations" and "the free exercise of experimental surrealism."...The transition from the overtly Marxist SASDLR to the luxuriously illustrated Minotaure reflects surrealism's political migration from a "red" period of communist activism to what I call its "noir" period...Designating a break in the stylistic transparency of realist representation, the mannered proliferation of stylistic motifs in romans noirs and symbolist poetry, as well as in certain interwar crime films, exceeded its own formalism in order to evoke the terror and social dissolution at work in historical reality. These effects became a guiding interest for the surrealists in 1933, s they suggested the role to be played by psychoanalysis and art alike in confront and diagnosing the historical pressures at work in the present moment.
This change in the group's tenor constituted neither an "exasperated" retreat from politics nor, for that matter, a failure of the movement to establish an effective political platform. Instead this noir period accomplished what might be considered a negation, rather than an abandonment, of the group's overt political activities, a return to earlier surrealist interests such as automatic writing and the interpretation of dreams for the sake of understanding more fully their value as theoretical tools. The political use-value of this dialectical return lay in its reassessment of the moral and epistemological bases of surrealism's political platform, in response to a historical moment rapidly becoming -- to cite the title of an article in Minotaure 3-5 -- an "Age of Fear."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 175
- The lady, in esoteric love, matters least. So, too, for Breton. He is closer to the things that Nadja is close to than to her. What are these things? Nothing could reveal more about Surrealism than their canon. Where shall I begin? He can boast an extraordinary discovery. He was the first to perceive the revolutionary energies that appear in the 'outmoded', in the first iron constructions, the first factory buildings, the earliest photos, the objects that have begun to be extinct, grand pianos, the dresses of five years ago, fashionable restaurants when the vogue has begun to ebb from them. The relation of these things to revolution—no one can have a more exact concept of it than these authors. No one before these visionaries and augurs perceived how destitution—not only social but architectonic, the poverty of interiors, enslaved and enslaving objects—can be suddenly transformed into revolutionary nihilism. Leaving aside Aragon's Passage de l'Opera, Breton and Nadja are the lovers who convert everything that we have experienced on mournful railway journeys (railways are beginning to age), on God-forsaken Sunday afternoons in the proletarian quarters of the great cities, in the first glance through the rain-blurred window of a new apartment, into revolutionary experience, if not action. They bring the immense forces of 'atmosphere' concealed in these things to the point of explosion. What form do you suppose a life would take that was determined at a decisive moment precisely by the street song last on everyone's lips?
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 50
- The morality to which André Breton is drawn is rather poorly defined, but it is -- if such a thing is possible -- a morality of the instant. What is essential about it is the demand imposed no whoever expresses a will to choose between the instant -- the value of the present moment and the free activity of the mind -- and a concern for results which immediately abolish the value and even, in a sense, the existence of the instant. The accent is placed not on the fact of choosing but on the content of the choice proposed. It is only the incommensurable value of the instant that counts, not the fact that all would be in suspension. More precisely, what is at stake..prevails to a large extent over the fact that the decision belongs to me and gives me authority. Liberty is no longer the liberty to choose, but the choice renders a liberty, a free activity, possible, requiring that once decision is fixed upon it I do not allow a new choice to intervene, for a choice between the diverse possibilities of the activity unleashed would be made with a view to some ulterior result (this is the significance of automatism). The surrealist decision is thus a decision to decide no longer (that is, the free activity of the mind would be betrayed if I subordinated it to some result decided beforehand).
The profound difference between surrealism and the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre hangs on this character of the existence of liberty. If I do not seek to dominate it, liberty will exist: it is poetry; words, no longer striving to serve some useful purpose, set themselves free and so unleash the image of free existence, which is never bestowed except in the instant...If we were genuinely to break the servitude by which the existence of the instant is submitted to useful activity, the essence would suddenly be revealed in us with an unbearable clarity...The seizure of the instant cannot differ from ecstasy (reciprocally one must define ecstasy as the seizure of the instant -- nothing else -- operating despite the concerns of the mystics).
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 66
- The new simulacra which the paranoiac thought may suddenly let loose will not merely have their origin in the unconscious, but, in addition, the force of the paranoiac power will itself be at the service of the unconscious.
Source: The Rotting Donkey, p. 257
- The only way to look at Man is as the victim of his mirrors.
Source: A Wave of Dreams, p. 43
- The other surrealists...sought forms of collective practice that could reconcile the spiritual freedom Soupault championed with the political actuality promised by party communism...This did not mean that all surrealist writing and art was to become instrumentalized in the service of "effective" revolutionary praxis instead the group mobilized its experimental energies toward broadening the theoretical basis of communism.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 122
- The Paranoid-Critical Method [of Salvador Dali] reasserts an often lost continuity between the delusional and rational -- retying the knot of their mutual genesis.
From chapter: Jamer Hunt, Paranoid, Critical, Methodical, Dali, Koolhaas, and...
Source: Paranoia Within Reason: A Casebook on Conspiracy as Explanation, p. 21
- The path of surrealism through the twentieth century is littered with corpses...[T]he writers and artists of the surrealist movement dedicated themselves to experimental intellectual practices that responded directly to the violence of twentieth-century history. And while this violence erupted most conspicuously during the mass upheavals of war and revolution, it could be confronted most explicitly, according to the surrealists, in the immediate and vulgar realm of everyday crime...[T]he group's interest in crime was fundamental to its responses to pressing political and intellectual events of the twentieth century.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 1
- The plurality of voices and incompleteness is what distinguishes the Surrealist group from any other group as avant-garde, namely, 'to be several, not in order to realize something, but without any other reason (moreover hidden) than to bring plurality into existence in giving it a new sense'. [Blanchot, L'Entretien infini, p. 601]. The understanding of Surrealism as an experience of alterity and negativity, of failure and limit-experience -- and we note that not even a Thirion, still less a Monnerot or Blanchot, ever sets Bataille and Breton up as oppositions, however supposedly heuristically -- should modify the way in which one might think the historical relationship between Surrealism and the PCF and by extension Surrealism and the political.
From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 328
- The political novel -- I have in mind its "ideal" form -- is peculiarly a work of internal tensions...The conflict is inescapable: the novel tries to confront experience in its immediacy and closeness, while ideology is by its nature general and inclusive.
Source: Politics and the Novel, p. 20
- The power of the imagery brought to life by misfortune and its healing in the sickness of Rosario and José Garcia is a power that springs into being where the life story is fitted as allegory to myths of conquest, savagery, and redemption. It should be clear by now that the magic and religious faith involved in this are neither mystical nor pragmatic, and certainly not blind adherence to blinding doctrine. Instead, they constitute an imagery epistemology splicing certainty with doubt, and despair with hope, in which dreaming -- in this case of poor country people -- reworks the significance of imagery that ruling-class institutions such as the Church have appropriated for the task of colonizing utopian fantasies.
In objectifying this reality as lo real maravilloso or realismo mágico, modern Latin American literature builds a (one-way) bridge with oral literature, yet still, so it seems to me, finds it hard to evade the heavy-handedness that Alejo Carpentier reacted against in Parisian surrealism -- the effort to create magic where only a metaphorized form could exist. Surrealism froze time and denarrativized the predictable compositions of bourgeois reality with forms taken from dreams and from decontextualized (hence all the more surreal) artifacts from the primitive world as it was imaginatively glimpsed through African masks and such in the Trocadero. Well, Carpentier found he didn't need the artifacts because there in the streets and the fields and the history of Haiti the marvelously real was staring him in the face. There it was lived. There it was culture, marvelous yet ordinary.
Source: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man, p. 165-166
- The present world exceeds the grasp of criticism in that it is caught up in a perpetual movement of disillusion and dissolution, the very movement which is pushing it towards order and towards an absurd conformism, the excess of which creates much greater disorganization than the opposite excess of disorder. Having reached this point, the real (if we may call it that) now responds only to a kind of objective irony and pataphysical description. Pataphysics is the imaginary science of our world, the imaginary science of excess, of excessive, parodic, paroxystic effects -- particularly the excess of emptiness and insignificance. The existence which believes in its own existence is an infatuation, a ridiculous flatulence. Pataphysical irony is aimed at this presumptuousness on the part of beings sustained by the fierce illusion of their existence. For that existence is merely an inflatable structure, similar to Ubu's belly, which distends into the void and ends up exploding like the Palotins.
Source: The Perfect Crime, p. 71
- The primary function of [Breton's] Surrealism is clearly to liberate the Freudian unconscious, to tap its powerful forces via automatic writing, automatic speech, and the analysis of dreams. The superior reality (or surreality) that these forms of association embody is that of the unconscious itself, the exploration of which will expand our total consciousness.
Source: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, p. 205
- The publication of La Reine des pommes in 1958 as an original French novel represents an incarnation of surrealist humour noir insofar as it establishes a continuity between surrealist thinking about language, violence, and revolt, and hard-boiled fiction's stylized abstraction of political and racial experience in the United States. Taking part in a refusal of social realism's presumption of clear vision and a stoic subject, to which Breton's Anthology likewise alludes, Himes's novels seek access to the political and the real only by means of the "dissonant, discordant, always jarring" affect of the noir aesthetic.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 248
- The puppet-master spat green, purple, orange and every other colour. While he was kicking his wife's chest and stomach, four drunken men were crossing the far side of the square carrying the Zany's body on a stretcher. Doña Venjamon crossed herself. The public urinals wept for the dead man, and the wind made a noise like the wings of turkey-buzzards in the pale dusty-colored trees in the park.
Source: El Senor Presidente, p. 53
- The purpose of automatic writing is to discover the marvellous but not to fabricate it deliberately. Les Champs Magnetiques, unquestionably inspired by the development of the psychoanalytic method, is not a series of exercises intended to demonstrate the results of this method, but arose above all from the application of a distinctly new type of literary discipline, and the application of a deliberate experimental principle concerning the factor of varying speed when writing spontaneously...The first principle ruling the production of Les Champs Magnetiques was that none of its words, phrases or sentences, once having found their way to paper through the authors' intermediary, were to be in any way altered or improved...The discipline involved in automatic writing is that of vigilantly resisting the temptation to interrupt the stream of consciousness, or rather of the theoretically subjacent consciousness, or to interfere with or in any way alter post facto the results obtained 'with laudable disdain as regards their literary quality'. The other factor...of capital concern to the authors during their collaboration is that of the range of varying speeds at which the dictation of the subconscious may be registered.
From chapter: Introduction by David Gascoyne
Source: The Magnetic Fields, p. 14-15
- The report does not render the bloody room legible; rather it catalogues the impressions left by objects in the room in a way that isolates empirical detail from analysis and inductive reasoning. The elements of empirical reality may all be present, but their arrangement is not subject to logical reconstruction, nor does it obey the continuities of naturalist description; the details instead form a meticulous yet blindly taxonomic inventory. This primal scene of murder may know something, but it does not necessarily make any sense.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 29
- The result is that virtually without exception, critics and historians have described the movement as the effort of a small group of French writers who rallied around Andre Breton in 1924 and whose poetry is important chiefly as an illustration of the limitations or aberrations of his doctrines. I do not wish to discount the importance of Breton or the so-called Paris school, yet their activities are plainly only a part of the story, and with the passage of time their importance has diminished perceptibly...A more comprehensive view would suggest that surrealism in poetry is not simply an attitude or a set of doctrines, but a technique and a language of poetic expression common to widely separated and even otherwise unrelated poets, and cannot be confined to the definition of an école littéraire.
Source: Surrealism and Modern Poetry: Outline of an Approach, p. 175
- The scene was real and incontrovertible, and at variance with the talk of the Sergeant, but I knew that the Sergeant was talking the truth and if it was a question of taking my choice, it was possible that I would have to forego the reality of all the simple things my eyes were looking at.
Source: The Third Policeman, p. 75
- The significance of the surrealist papillons [flyers they would paste at random around Paris] lay in their playful multiplication of, rather than solutions to, difference and uncertainty.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 45
- The steel finger-nails of fever were clawing at his forehead. Dissociation of ideas. A fluctuating world seen in a mirror. Fantastic disproportion. Hurricane of delirium. Vertiginous flight, horizontal, vertical, oblique, newly-born and dead in a spiral...
Source: El Senor Presidente, p. 20
- The supposition that modernism as we have known it is inside out, so that we haven't known it much; that it has the two-sided structure just proposed gains in credibility once the proposal is brought to bear on literary history. Terrorism (which Chesterton conflates, rightly or wrongly, with anarchism) is a central formal inspiration and a central thematics of Anglo-American and international fiction, throughout the century. Ignorance of the continuity has helped create another outside to modernism, our so-called postmodernism; but the continuity and the impact of anarchist terrorism on literary culture suggests that we have only various modernisms to contemplate, and not a divide between one modernism and another, of course, because Chesterton identifies, as the original terrorist, the god who blows up Job, Chesterton thinks there is more to modernism than modernity.
Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 155-156
- The surrealist slogans aim likewisse to rein scribe the inchoate "realm of our experience" as an intersubjective and textually overdetermined framework; yet rather than providing the means to ensure its logical, ordered resolution, the slogans are distributed with an aim to "deprive us of a frame of reference" in order to recast knowledge as what Maurice Blanchot has called a communication with the unknown. This unknown referred neither to the unknowable nor to the transcendental reality of the noumenon, but rather to the point at which interpretive systems break down -- the limits of understanding. That is, extending the surrealist assassination of unitary logic and its ideological confines into the realm of the everyday, the activities of the Surrealist Research Bureau attempted to apply this mortal blow as a form of communication that would actually prevent any singular, unitary idea from taking shape.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 46
- The surrealists, in effect, heeded Sade's critique of the French Revolution in Philosophy in the Boudoir: the Revolution's descent into Terror meant not that the Revolution had gone too far but that it had not gone far enough; it let unchallenged presumptions about the sovereignty of law, the family, God, the Catholic church, and, most broadly, the bourgeoisie. Bataille's review of X Marks the Spot makes a similar claim in its impatience with the residual idealism of the pamphlet's hard-boiled images of dead gangsters.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 143
- The tension in Surrealism that is discharged in shock is the tension between schizophrenia and reification...The dialectical images of Surrealism are images of a dialectic of subjective freedom in a situation of objective unfreedom.
Source: Looking Back on Surrealism, p. 230
- The ties between surrealism's politics and the problem of terrorist violence briefly became a public issue once more in 2001, in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Recalling the surrealist movement's anti colonial and anti-Western rhetoric, which had been especially visible during the 1920s and 1930s, the prominent French curator Jean Clair excoriated the movement for its resemblance to al-Qaeda. In a newspaper editorial published in December 2001, Clair juxtaposed the destruction of the World Trade Center with Louis Aragon's 1925 rant against the "white buildings" of New York City, suggesting a causal (rather than merely analogical) relationship between fundamentalist terrorism and the interwar European avant-garde. In making this juxtaposition, Clair contends that "the surrealist ideology never stopped hoping for the death of an America it saw as materialist and sterile, and for the triumph of an Orient that served as the repository for the values of the mind." ore than simply a historical coincidence, Clair argues, surrealism's anti-Western and pro-"Oriental" ideology helped "prepare the minds" of European civilization -- yet prepared them not for revolution but for an anti humanism complicit with the forms of totalitarianism and state terror that would follow, from Stalinist purges to the Holocaust.
Clair's polemic was an attack on avant-garde rhetoric, though, rather than a critique of the surrealist movement's actual political thinking, as represented in the many tracts, pamphlets, and speeches the surrealists produced throughout the movement's history. Indeed, Clair's own charge of surrealism's complicity in 9/11 -- a rhetorical gesture par excellence -- is a reaction, he claims, against the ideological stakes of surrealism's own intensified rhetoric, whose insults and violent polemics "are no different from those found in the fiery attacks of the fascist leagues or, on the other side of the political spectrum, those soon to be addressed to the 'mad dogs' in the Moscow trials. They signal an era." Violent rhetoric produces violent action, Clair maintains; and because surrealism spoke, and because its rhetoric thus served as the conduit between its artistic practices and the political sphere, surrealist appeals to violence and to the dissolution of Western humanistic ideals cannot safely be viewed as autonomous artistic utterances. In "seeking to conflate vita contemplativa and vita politica," Clair argues, the movements members become as subject to judgment and condemnation as any member of a political party.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 268
- The trick by which this world of things is mastered—it is more proper to speak of a trick than a method—consists in the substitution of a political for a historical view of the past...Apollinaire originated this technique. In his volume of novellas, L'hérésiarque, he used it with Machiavellian calculation to blow Catholicism (to which he inwardly clung) to smithereens.
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 50
- 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.
Source: Paris Peasant, p. 61
- The unconscious itself is a secret agent, for the traumatic event already exists as a memory but never ceases to happen again, forming links with other times: 'traumatic scenes do not form a simple view, like a string of pearls, but ramify and are interconnected like genealogical trees' [Freud and Breuer]. In this sense, Freud's and Breuer's early psychoanalytic writings on hysteria and trauma are particularly pertinent to the issue of terrorism at the time -- particularly in so far as they posit transferences between the body and mind, violence and terror...In Conrad's novel, though, the image of a political unconscious begins to develop around transferences between subjects, such that interconnections of terror and violence are more actively involved in a wider social field.
Source: Terrorism and Modern Literature, p. 47
- The usual slight distinction between shape and hue seemed wholly to have vanished. Colour was more intensely image than it can usually manage to be, even in that art. A beam of wood painted amber was more than that; it was light which had become amber in order to become wood.
Source: All Hallows' Eve, p. 17
- The woman in the car with him (presumably Nadja) raises the stakes for him. Here is a moment: sex and speed and death. But Breton tells us that it is unnecessary to add that he didn't indulge her. In a sense, she should be his epitome of the authentic Surrealist, the kind of Surrealist that Breton wished that he could be. However, especially with Nadja's eventual breakdown, Breton recognizes that to commit fully to what he believes may very well result in self-annihilation. Ultimately, Nadja represents a failed encounter with the marvelous, an encounter from which Breton escapes. And the narrative provides Breton with a platform to elucidate the pitfalls as he learns about them. Regardless, Nadja the actual woman remains merely a placeholder in his Surrealist aesthetic. She begins as an exemplar of the marvelous and comes to represent the writer's failure to follow through with everything he thought he believed about the marvelous. However, even as a marker of failure, Nadja is a feminine representation of Breton's failure and therefore gets recuperated into his conception of Surrealist experience. If at first glance the narrative appears to be about how Nadja the woman provides Breton access to the marvelous, then the dangers of Nadja's experience serve once again abstractly as a feminine warning that the male Surrealist must overcome.
Source: Disruptive Testimonies: The Stakes of Surrealist Experience in Breton and Carrington, p. 97
- The [surrealist] group's aesthetic self-consciousness, I argue, recognized murder as a form of cultural production that generated corpses...Rather than projecting a fixed set of formal aesthetic principles upon the social world, surrealism's aesthetic judgments were proprioceptive, under the aegis of aesthetics, they brought about a scrutiny and analysis of this discursive and specular realm of social relations that extended to contemporary politics...[T]he group's transition from a rebellious faction within Parisian Dada to a surrealist collective hinged on disagreements over the role of murder in the surrealist imagination, especially in differentiating the aesthetic treatment of crime from an aestheticization of crime itself.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 51
- Then came the weird pervasive chocolate smell that floated like a cloud over Manhattan. At first you thought it was local, you'd passed an unseen bakery, smelled something wafting, chocolate-sweet, stirring cravings and memories both. You'd scan the area, find nothing, continue on, but the smell was with you everywhere, with you in your apartment, too, though the windows were tight. On the street again, you'd see other glancing up, sniffing air, bemused. And soon confirming: yes, they smelled the same thing...Someone said the mayor had already given a statement, enigmatically terse, maybe hiding something. The chocolate cloud tugged Manhattan's mind in two directs, recalling inevitably the gray fog that had descended or some said been unleashed on the lower part of the island, two or three years ago, and that had yet to release its doomy grip on that zone. Theories floated in the sweetened breeze, yet no investigation could pin a source for the odor.
Source: Chronic City, p. 205-206
- 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...
Source: Paris Peasant, p. 66
- Then what is up the lane?
I cannot say. If he said that eternity was up the lane and left it at that, I would not kick so hard. But when we are told that we are coming back from there in a lift -- well, I, begin to think that he is confusing night-clubs with heaven. A lift!
Surely, I argued, if we concede that eternity is up the lane, the question of the lift is a minor matter. That is a case for swallowing a horse and cart and straining at a flea.
No. I bar the lift.
Source: The Third Policeman, p. 109
- There is a surrealist light:...it is the beam of flashlights on the murdered and on love.
Source: A Wave of Dreams, p. 35
- There is no question that Carrington was in need of some treatment; she had become convinced that parts of Europe were becoming hypnotized by agents of Hitler. Although this doesn't seem very far off the mark for the people who experienced it, Carrington believed that magical forces were at work and repeatedly singled out certain Nazi figures (a man named Van Ghent in Spain, for example) as targets for assassination. She was ultimately committed to an asylum for constantly badgering the British Embassy that Van Ghent should be eliminated.
Source: Disruptive Testimonies: The Stakes of Surrealist Experience in Breton and Carrington, p. 100
- There was once someone unscrupulous enough to include a note in an anthology that listed some of the images that occur in the work of one of our greatest living poets; it read:
A caterpillar's morning after in evening dress means: a butterfly.
Breast of crystal means: a carafe.
Etc. No, my gentle sir: does not mean. Put your butterfly back in your carafe. Rest assured, what Saint-Pol-Roux meant to say, he said.
Source: Introduction to the Discourse on the Paucity of Reality, p. 141
- These uncertainties in turn dramatize the efficacy of "Au Clair de la lune" as an apparatus for systematically reproducing the kinds of enigmas its locked room investigation refuses to solve.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 30
- This literary ethics, in other words, posited reform as a project toward which art could aim -- but which it could not in itself fulfill. The anti-Menckenists refused the grandiose claims about cultural unity and cohesion presented in the work of writers such as T.S. Eliot and Frank, while also opposing Mencken's own lingering (if frustrated) progressivism in presuming that America could only be improved through the acerbic vigor of Nietzschean supermen-critics. The anti-Menckenists, I contend, distanced themselves from the "religious" presumption that the right kind of critical or artistic voice might bear redemptive wisdom within it: the presumption that language could, in fact, convey truth. Dramatizing the failure -- and even violence -- of such beliefs, the anti-Menckenists instead viewed writing as a means for establishing the terms and conditions of public engagement and introduced the possibility that writing could rhetorically call into being the provisional institutions the writers themselves formed as critics, correspondents, and friends.
Source: Anti-Menckenism: Nathanael West, Robert M. Coates, and the provisional avant-garde, p. 523
- To Surrealism's credit, assuredly, is the creation of a school-for-all which, if it did not make revolution, at least popularized revolutionary thinkers. The Surrealists were the first to make it impossible, in France, to conflate Marx and Bolshevism, the first to use Lautréamont as gunpowder, the first to plant the black flag of de Sade in the heart of Christian humanism. These are legitimate claims to glory: to this extent, at any rate, Surrealism's failure was an honorable one.
Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 8
- Too often, in the eyes of its critics and advocates alike, surrealism has tended to designate a quaint set of formal practices that yielded the movement's unusual, and seemingly obfuscatory, visual and verbal works as well as its broader "utopian" program of dream and revolution. Even now, in an era longing to resist the mounting pressures of orthodoxy and fundamentalism, many scholars continue to brand surrealism as an orthodoxy unto itself, albeit an orthodoxy of the bizarre...[but] surrealism itself demanded, in the words of Andre Breton, a perpetual crisis in consciousness whose methods changed as the movement's participants changed. It is this insistence on change -- even on crisis and internal debate -- that has challenged scholars and critics with the task of defining such a tangle of writers and artists, practices and ideas. Major recent studies of surrealism have broadened the field of surrealist scholarship by focusing on the participatory and even dialectical nature of the movement, as well as by featuring writers and artists whose contributions had previously been overlooked. Moving beyond the axiomatic work of defining and introducing the movement, I argue that the rifts, disagreements, and exclusions through which surrealism consistently reinvented itself reflect the volatility of a group of public intellectuals bent on challenging the existing epistemological and political order, the silent pacts that guarantee reality as an a priori set of givens.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 5
- True antifascism, the surrealists argued, required more than a mobilization against some strange, alien threat. Rather, as the Noziere case fully revealed, it required a fundamental attack on petit-bourgeois values not just the revolution in class relations to which the surrealists remained committed throughout the 1930s, but even more fundamentally, a revolution in family values -- a revolution, in other words, in gender relations. Like the rewriting of Violette's name, this revolution would require not only violence but also a form of writing and thinking that is at once stealing and flying, a surrealist libération de l'esprit.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 214
- Two months they had been together now and their crimes had been many and foul enough, as they wielded the x-ray bullet.
But it had been (or Charles had thought it so) lighthearted and young. He had quieted his soul -- the old, old story! -- with a list of his misfortunes, with a tale of the world's misdeeds. He pictured himself a latter-day cavalier, a modern Robin Hood, astride the machine as the others bestrode their horses. He had told himself that he had robbed the rich to feed the poor. He had -- ah! now, with a sickened courage he looked back at it all; he knew now the hideous brain that had urged him on; he saw himself for the fool that he had been.
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 154-155
- Unfortunately Surrealism had been an ideology in the profoundest sense from the beginning; it was always doomed to be part of the game of old and new in the cultural sphere -- and could have avoided this destiny only if, say, the Spanish Revolution had triumphed over both the Stalinists and the fascists and hence made possible a transformation of Surrealism into revolutionary theory.
Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 29
- Unlike other contemporary critics of surrealism, who tended to dismiss its theoretical work as either dangerously reactionary or naively intuitive and hostile to rigor, Bataille instead criticized the all too deliberate log through which surrealism grounded its politics. The group's call for revolution had more to do, he felt, with the philosophical appeal of dialectical materialism than with the reality of violent rebellion...Bataille criticized surrealism, in other words, for the same disavowed moralism he saw in X Marks the Spot, and for the same vagueness for which older Marxists such as Marcel Martinet had disparaged them several years previously in calling them "Lenins-in-short-pants."...The surrealists had heeded Martinet's critique all too earnestly, Bataille, suggested, eagerly refashioning themselves as leftist intellectuals at the expense of acknowledging the "bloody farce" of real insurrectional violence.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 141
- Unlike the more celebrated surrealist images of the early 1920s, this composition [the before & after juxtaposition of the Papin sisters] invokes, through absence, the disruptive violence of the Papin murders for analytical rather than affective purposes. Its aim is no longer to "disorient us in our own memory by depriving us of a frame of reference," as Breton wrote in 1921, but rather to orient. Indeed by 1933 disorientation and disillusionment were no longer simply the watchwords of surrealist activity but had instead become conditions of political life under the threat of the seemingly incomprehensible rise of fascism. In this context the surrealist image offered a new frame of reference for political judgment; yet its value as theory would derive less from philosophy or logic than from the clinical study of paranoia, whose challenge to the naive realism at the core of communist thinking would provide the epistemological grounds for a renewed surrealist commitment to political resistance, directed explicitly against fascism....[P]aranoia increasingly offered...a form of thought that "was both autonomous and critical," and "could destabilize a consensual understanding of the real."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 179-180
- Visibly, it was as if a snake of fire had wriggled out from the hooded orifice of the machine. Swift beyond sight, it had run down the thin and unswerving cylinder that marked the path of the x-ray bullet. The man's head -- the brain Charles Dograr watched -- jerked backward, as if the snake had struck...it trembled a little...then fell slowly sidewise out of the disk of Charles' vision.
The old gentleman, unconcernedly, began to reverse the focus.
"I'm tired of practicing on flies," he remarked.
Charles Dograr's breast deflated on his terror as on a ball of iron. One by one, the objects through which their gaze had passed reappeared for a moment (as the x-ray eye of the machine retrieved its path) then vanished irretrievably in the night.
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 34-35
- Was Hamlet mad? Was Trellis mad? It is extremely hard to say. Was he a victim of hard-to-explain hallucinations? Nobody knows. Even experts do not agree on these vital points...The more one studies the problem, the more fascinated one becomes and incidentally the more one postulates a cerebral norm...One man will think he has a glass bottom and will fear to sit in case of breakage. In other respects he will be a man of great intellectual force and will accompany one in a mental ramble throughout the labyrinths of mathematics or philosophy so long as he is allowed to remain standing throughout the disputations. Another man will be perfectly polite and well conducted except that he will in no circumstances turn otherwise than to the right and indeed will own a bicycle so constructed that it cannot turn otherwise than to that point. Others will be subject to colours and will attach undue merit to articles that are red or green or white merely because they bear that hue. Some will be exercised and influenced by the texture of a cloth or by the roundness or angularity of an object. Numbers, however, will account for a great proportion of unbalanced and suffering humanity. One man will rove the streets seeking motor-cars with numbers that are divisible by seven. Well known, alas, is the case of the poor German who was very fond of three and who made each aspect of his life a thing of triads. He went home one evening and drank three cups of tea with three lumps of sugar in each, cut his jugular with a razor three times and scrawled with a dying hand on a picture of his wife good-bye, good-bye, good-bye.
Source: At Swim-Two-Birds, p. 217-218
- We know that in the islands of Malaysia there is a tradition which, from time to time, consigns an individual to the fate Breton used to characterize the simplest surrealist act [i.e. shooting randomly into a crowd]. The custom of amok is well known: the lands in which the custom of amok occurs recognize, as a sort of traditional attitude, the sudden fury that overcomes an individual armed with a dagger who rushes headlong into the crowd and kills until he is killed himself. It is not exactly an act of madness, since it belongs to a perpetuated tradition. Clearly, the crowd do not in any way excuse the amok, since they kill him, but they are still complicates with a supposedly crazy act, since at the start it was understood that it is natural for a man to be overcome by the folly of amok, that it is a natural thing for a man to succumb to the obligation to confront his brother and kill him. [Similar religious frenzy in surrealism in that] value is possessed only by objects of events which have caused a shiver to pass across his temple, which we can rightfully say is a sacred shiver.
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 74
- We were shown around cheap dream manufactories and shops full of obscure dramas. It was a splendid cinema in which the roles were played by our old friends. We lost sight of them and we went to find them again always in the same place. They gave us rotten dainties and we told them about our plans for future happiness. They fixed their eyes on us, they spoke: can one really remember those base words, their sleep-sick lays?
Source: The Magnetic Fields, p. 26
- We're working on a task that's enigmatic even for us, in front of a volume of Fantomas fixed to the wall by forks. Visitors, born in faraway climes or at our own door, are helping us design an extraordinary machine which is for killing what exists so that what does not exist may be complete. At 15, rue de Grenelle we've opened romantic lodgings for unclassifiable ideas and revolutions in progress.
Source: A Wave of Dreams, p. 41
- What Himes refers to as his own version of surrealism, a vernacular surrealism allied with the blues, thus has less to do with the formal descriptions of surrealist practices found in Breton's manifestoes than with the political legacy of the group in the postwar public domain. This legacy, especially in its infiltration within the "philosophy" of Duhamel's Série Noire, lingered as an insistence on the conflicts and even falsehoods of language, the resistance of writing and its motives to an immediate political use-value...Like Cahun's ideas about surrealist poetry, Himes's black humor contradicts the existentialist faith in African American vernacular forms as means of expression alone, suggesting instead that they "guard their secrets" in order that their political anger, their unconscious, subterranean cachet of revolutionary knowledge and desire, remain open. So too, I contend, does there remain an openness within surrealist discourse more broadly; no longer limited to the active movement, this discourse was distributed throughout postwar intellectual life, and throughout the world, as an intransigent form of political expression as much attuned to the "mysterious exchange of humorous pleasure" as to the objective recognition of social injustice.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 265
- What sprang up in 1919 in France in a small circle of literati—we shall give the most important names at once: André Breton, Louis Aragon, Philippe Soupault, Robert Desnos, Paul Eluard—may have been a meagre stream, fed on the damp boredom of postwar Europe and the last trickle of French decadence. The know-alls who even today have not advanced beyond the 'authentic origins' of the movement, and even now have nothing to say about it except that yet another clique of literati is here mystifying the honourable public, are a little like a gathering of experts at a spring who, after lengthy deliberation, arrive at the conviction that this paltry stream will never drive turbines.
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 47
- What the children revealed now, that no image could ever reproduce, was its sublime and superb thingliness (again this word came unbidden). Perks had been merciful, I now saw, leaving me to ascend here in solitude, to permit me first contact unmediated. I didn't want to talk. I didn't want to share. Like Georgina, I fought an urge to shed my clothes.
Time, among other things, was destroyed. I don't know how long I sagged there, feeling the cool plaster through the shoulders of my suit, a Saint Sebastian in continuous ecstatic surrender to the one ubiquitous and unceasing arrow of the chaldron streaming toward me from above....In the chaldron's holistic force I also saw that Perkus's apparently schizophrenic inquiries all led to the same place, whether I could follow them or not. They sprang from the certainty that a thing as splendid as the chaldron could be hidden, hogged, privatized by the mayor and other overlords. This theft in turn described the basic condition of Manhattan and the universe. Whatever Perkus mourned or beckoned from the brink of vanishing -- Morrison Groom and his fabulous ruined films, Brando, the polar bear and Norman Mailer, ellipsis, every thwarted gasp of freedom -- all were here, sealed for safekeeping, and at the same time so healthy their promise grinned from the container.
Source: Chronic City, p. 333-334
- What will suddenly alert them to the abyss beside which they have set up camp, what opens their eyes to the field of comets they've been tilling unawares, is the unforeseen impact of surrealism on their lives. They'd thrown themselves into it as if it were the sea, and now, just like a treacherous sea, surrealism threatens to sweep them out to the open ocean where the sharks of madness cruise.
Source: A Wave of Dreams, p. 19
- Whenever the occasion has arisen, I have opposed surrealism. And I would like now to affirm it from within as the demand to which I have submitted and as the dissatisfaction I exemplify. But this much is clear: surrealism is defined by the possibility that I, its old enemy from within, can have of defining it conclusively. It is genuinely virile opposition -- nothing conciliatory, nothing divine -- to all accepted limits, a rigorous will to insubordination.
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 49
- Whereas many artists and writers of the postwar surrealist group turned their attention toward ethnography and hermeticism in their investigation of alternative social myths, many of the critics, intellectuals, and popular writers who responded to surrealism centered their attention on the poetics of black humor. For Breton -- and, as we will see, for other figures of the postwar era who might also be considered "black humorists," principally Chester Himes, Marcel Duhamel, and Leo Malet -- the concept was far from an aesthetic or literary-historical category alone. Rather, black humor formed a significant part of postwar French intellectual discourse surrounding the question of writing as a political and ethical practice.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 245
- While Breton often locates this disruptive force in the mind's encounter with the feminine, Carrington places the disruptive force in mind and body alike, creating the space for a feminine experience that shifts Surrealist aesthetics away from mere male psychic liberation, while avoiding the trap of a universalized femininity. In so doing, Carrington makes history a central concern for surreal experience.
Source: Disruptive Testimonies: The Stakes of Surrealist Experience in Breton and Carrington, p. 102
- While one of the serf-sweepers was cleaning up the scattered fragments, Colin noticed Chick and Lisa who had just arrived on the other side of the rink. He waved to them, but as they did not see him he set off to meet them without taking the gyrator movement of the rink into account. The result was the rapid formation of a tremendous heap of people rushing to complain. Every second they were joined by a vast agglomeration of others, desperately beating their arms, their legs, their shoulders and their whole bodies in the air before collapsing on to the pile of the first fallen. As the sun had melted the surface of the ice, there was a horrible squelch under the heap of bodies.
In no time at all ninety per cent of the skaters were on the heap...
Source: Froth on the Daydream, p. 21-22
- Without itself offering a positive model or ideology for truthful understanding (the detective genre is, like the photographic black box, a blind instrument), surrealism's recourse to the locked room mystery establishes the intellectual conditions of surrealism as conditions of epistemological violence rather than of ideological certainty or heady discovery, characterized by the genre's blind and ostensibly impartial assassination of old forms of thought.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 27
- Yet whereas a paranoiac might claim to have an unmediated relationship with things-in-themselves, the disease itself could be read and understood as a representation of the aggregate factors that produced it, such as the subject's social conditions, case history, and structures of unconscious desire. As Jacques Lacan argues in the first of the two articles he published in Minotaure, paranoia's systematic distortion of a subject's relationship to the real provided a "new syntax," a system of representation that offered a model for better understanding the nature of causality in the first place. Paranoia's "new syntax," the surrealists suggested, was already a representation of complex structures of social and psychological determination that could be mobilized for the sake of political understanding.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 180
- You may not believe in magic but something very strange is happening at this very moment.
Source: The Hearing Trumpet, p. 17
- [According to Aragon and Crevel] the ethical imperative of surrealism lay in its commitment to heeding a demand to think independently. That is, its practices sought both to obey and to propagate the command of thinking itself, rather than to heed predetermined moral laws or to obey transcendental principles of "experimental" or "practical" judgment.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 76
- [A]s [Maurice] Blanchot asserts, while there may no longer have been a viable surrealist school after the war (at least in France), "a state of mind survives. No one belongs to this movement anymore, and everyone feels he could have been part of it." Has surrealism vanished, he asks? "It is no longer here or there; it is everywhere. It is a ghost, a brilliant obsession. In its turn, as an earned metamorphosis, it has become surreal."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 250
- [From a semi-autobiographical novel written by Crevel:] "I accuse memory. Evil comes from what we ignore...so that memory is in reality a hallucination."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 72
- [F]or the surrealists, art is superceded not when its distinction from political life collapses, as Clair puts it, but when it fuses imagination with interpretation and thus becomes coextensive with philosophy and science.
Source: Object Lessons: Surrealist Art, Surrealist Politics, p. 179
- [Georges] Sadoul's essay is by far the most paranoid, arguing that the popular appeal of magazines like Detective extended the reach of the powerful right-wing police chief Jean Chiappe....For Sadoul, the law was merely the pretext for a conspiracy of police forces, whether professional, amateur, or journalistic...[H]is intent is to suggest the complicity of even this widely read magazine...with the ideological function of police activity. This function is fascist, Sadoul argues, to the extent that participation in the surveillance and pursuit of so-called criminals is less a question of desire than an automatic function of the state...the sensationalism Sadoul decries represented not a liberation of desire or an explosion of perversity but, as Aragon similarly expresses in his "Introduction to 1930," the "revenge of censorship on the unconscious."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 156-157
- [Himes and Duhamel had] a shared set of ideas about writing: resistant to the narrative and cognitive certainty of naturalism, this writing is consistent with the critical aims of postwar surrealism. As I have argued, Duhamel's absorption of surrealist principles into the editorial framework of the Série Noire achieved an extension of surrealism into the public sphere.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 264
- [Himes's] method, rather than subsuming its political anger and desire within a singular narrative consciousness, a single "private eye," instead multiplies the inconsistencies of vernacular speech and the confusing vicissitudes of American absurdity. Much like Walter Benjamin's notion of how surrealist photography achieves a "salutary estrangement between man and his surroundings," Himes's absurdist universe blinds the "private" eye in order to give instead "free play to the politically educated eye, under whose gaze all intimacies are sacrificed to the illumination of detail."
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 264-265
- [I]t is critical to note that the surrealists' reaction to the Noziere affair is different from their relation to Violette herself as either a body, a subject, or the object of their attention. In the book she remains very much a set of signifiers, never photographed or represented "realistically" like Germaine Berton or the Papin sisters, insofar as her features, appearance, and physicality are not fixed in or by a single image...Breton explains this process of transmutation into myth in the book's first lines, as a function of the media spectacle Violette has become:
All the world's curtains drawn before your eyes
It's pointless for them
Before their mirror gasping for breath
To stretch the jinxed bow of ancestry and posterity
You no longer resemble anyone living or dead
Mythological to the tips of your fingernails
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 209
- [I]t was...precisely at the outset that Breton declared his intention of breaking with a praxis that presents the public with the literary precipitate of a certain form of existence while withholding that existence itself. Stated more briefly and dialectically, this means that the sphere of poetry was here explored from within by a closely knit circle of people pushing the 'poetic life' to the utmost limits of possibility.
Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 48
- [Jean] Clair, the director of the Picasso museum in Paris and a national representative of French patrimony, first launched his attack in the form of a newspaper editorial published in Le Monde in November 2001, barely two months after the 9/11 attacks. In this editorial, as in the expanded book, Clair excoriates the surrealist movement for its complicity in the twentieth century's bloody history of terror and totalitarianism, from fascism and Stalinism to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. In direct opposition to the group's own stridently leftist and anti-fascist political engagement, Clair's essay makes its baldest claim in condemning surrealism for its uncanny anticipation of the World Trade Center attacks, as well as for its violently anti-Western ideological platform that "prepared the minds" of Europe for such disasters. As Clair writes:
"Surrealist ideology never stopped calling for the death of an America that was, in its eyes, materialist and sterile, as well as for the triumph of the Orient as a repository of spiritual values. Text after text, between 1924 and 1930, underlines this destructive imaginary. Here's Aragon, in 1925: '[...] We are Europe's defeatists . . . May the Orient you droad finally respond to our voice [... ] And may the drug traffickers hurl themselves at our terrified countries. May faraway America collapse from all its white buildings ...' On September 11, 2001, Aragon's reverie left the surreal in order to take place in reality. The 'white buildings' of the Twin Towers collapsed in flames, while the incredulous West discovered a somewhat forgotten country on the world map: Afghanistan. The outrageousness of the surrealists was not only verbal." (118-9, my translation)
By collapsing the historical distance between Aragon's 1925 statements and the attacks upon the World Trade Center, Clair's essay engages -- perhaps unwittingly -- in the grand tradition of scandalizing rhetoric that characterized a large part of French intellectual debate between the wars. The irony here is that Clair employs such rhetoric as a reaction against what he considers the ideological stakes of surrealism's own intensified rhetoric, whose insults and scatological tones "are no different than those found in the fiery attacks of the fascist leagues or, on the other side of the political spectrum, those soon to be addressed to the 'mad dogs' in the Moscow trials. They signal an era" (124-5). Violent rhetoric produces violent action, Clair insists, even adding later that to use false or incorrect speech [mal dire or mal nommer] -- a tendency he extends toward "the grand illusion of modern language theory" (94) -- is tantamount to cursing [maudire], and to speaking evil [dire mal] (186). Surrealism, like other avant-garde movements before and since, refused to separate their artistic practice from the political sphere; in "seeking to conflate vita contemplativa, and vita politica," Clair argues, the movement's members become as subject to judgment and condemnation as any member of a political party (195 and 65).
Source: Object Lessons: Surrealist Art, Surrealist Politics, p. 177-178
- [Leo Malet's] novels maintained their investment in a surrealist intellectual genealogy and Malet continued to reflect on surrealist practices throughout his career, composing new "surrealist" poems as late as 1983.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 251
- [N]o matter how often they denied it, the Surrealists were continually (and curiously, for readers of de Sade) drawing the Christian distinction between carnal and spiritual love. Here, once again, the point of view of real practice was never grasped. What could be more Sadean than the dialectic of pleasure in its dual relationship to love on the one hand and insurrection on the other? Even the nihilist Jacques Rigaut acknowledged that any reconstruction of love must follow this path: "I have ridiculed many things. There is only one thing in the world that I have never been able to ridicule, and that is pleasure."
Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 50
- [N]o one has shown more concern than André Breton to imbue even the smallest action with a meaning that involves the fate of mankind...Unlike other schools (Romanticism, symbolism), surrealism is not a rather poorly determined freewheeling mode of activity. For a Romantic or a symbolist it was not a question of life and death that Romanticism or symbolism should be this and not that. Established from the first as a moral imperative, surrealism thus brings everything into question.
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 57
- [On why science fiction or fantastic-ness so often fails to deliver on its unlimited promise]
Well, it's hard. It's hard to live up to that promise, as it is in surrealist painting, ninety percent of which is like a little trompe l'oeil trick or something, and then every now and then you really are Max Ernst will make, or Dick Errico (?) makes an image that does take you to another experience. Those are hard materials, hard methods to maximize...When I've worked without those obvious [unreal] gestures, and I did it a number of times, I mean Motherless Brooklyn is the first time in some ways, but the Tourette's, the neurological trippiness of the language to me was like the fantastic element in that book. And what I've come to see is that I like to work with a baseline prosaic reality that we all can -- the consensual world, and really evoke it, and really make you feel a lot of mundane stuff, like recognition stuff, oh yeah, it's really like that. And then also have this field of the dream life, the distorting field of the visionary material in some form that is an equal pressure on the characters' experience. Something intangible, something esoteric, that they believe in as deeply as they believe in this prosaic world...The real contains the unreal. So for me, in a book like Dissident Gardens, just as the neurology and the language was the field of distortion in Motherless Brooklyn, so I didn't need a rocket ship or a werewolf or something in that book, I feel the same way about Dissident Gardens, that ideology, the utopianism, the desire to live in another world that's so, the passion, we all glimpse it, but to live oriented that way so totally that you sign onto the communist party, that is another one of those fields of distortion. It's like the characters are tripping on their [vision]...The idea that you're a vessel of this gigantic intangible movement, that's happening, that you are part of a revolution, even if no-one else will believe you, that it's about to come, to me that's as tripped out as any fantastic vision I could ever have offered, so it did what I wanted done to these characters' lives without my having to do those other things.
Source: Interview by Reihan Salam, p.
- [O]ne of the most significant events in the history [former Surrealist Marcel] Duhamel's Série Noire [was] the publication in 1958 of the first "original" novel commissioned specifically for the series, a crime thriller by the expatriate African American novelist Chester Himes, titled La Reine des pommes (or The Five-Cornered Square) [aka Rage in Harlem]. Independently of any formal affiliation with the movement, Himes's foray into crime fiction achieves what might be called a vernacular surrealism, one that registers the effects of his commerce with Duhamel, insofar as Duhamel established a large part of the material and formal conditions of Himes's transformation into a crime writer. This vernacular surrealism is one of the legacies of the movement's interest in crime, significant less for its popularity than for its implicit response to intellectual conditions in France after the Second World War...
In La Reine des pommes, Himes breaks with the instrumental use of language that characterized both Wright's and, in France, Jean-Paul Sartre's notions of "engaged writing." In its place he develops a violently comic fictional universe to which he later referred in terms of absurdity. Extending linguistic slippage and excess to the level of narrative itself, Himes's crime writing flies doubly in the face of social realism and existentialism by embracing absurdity as both a social condition and a narrative apparatus. At the same time, Himes always stressed that this humor was not a formal invention but something borrowed. That is, what he called "absurdity" was, in the lived experience of black Americans in Harlem, also emphatically real.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 246
- [O]ur images of reality themselves depend on the degree of our paranoiac faculty, and that yet, theoretically, an individual endowed with a sufficient degree of this faculty, might as he wishes see the successive changes of form of an object perceived in reality, just as in the case of voluntary hallucination; this, however, with the still more devastatingly important characteristic that the various forms assumed by the object in question will be controllable and recognizable by all, as soon as the paranoiac will simply indicate them.
Source: The Rotting Donkey, p. 257
- [Peret's] appeal to aesthetic judgment aims to shift the object of outrage from the horror of the crime to its banality...Peret argues that the sexual killing should be grasped by what De Quincey calls its aesthetic "handle." For Peret, this aesthetic treatment offers a means for rendering the virtually overlooked crime observable and subject to analysis in ways that avoid simply fixating on the innocence of the victim or the guilt of the murderer.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 54
- [Quoting Paul Nougé of the Belgian Surrealist group:] We must turn what can be ours to the very best account. Let man go where he has never gone, experience what he has never experienced, think what he has never thought, be what he has never been. But help is called for here: such departures, such a crisis, need to be precipitated, so with this in mind let us create disconcerting objects.
Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 54
- [Surrealism] must...be given credit for having so very rarely failed to measure up...to the revolutionary ethic of freedom. The Surrealists' denunciation of oppression was well-nigh continual, and the violence of their tone cannot help but arouse our sympathy. The fact remains that these young people, who ought by rights to have turned themselves into theorists and practitioners of the revolution of everyday life, were content to be mere artists thereof, waging a war of mere harassment against bourgeois society as though it fell to the Communist Party alone to mount the main offensive.
Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 39
- [S]urrealism...brings about a free poetic release without subordinating it to anything and without assigning a superior end to it. It is true that this is an attitude that is as difficult to bear as it is decisive and virilely sovereign. Yes, it really is the decisive conquest. Poetic liberty is not new. Myths and the rituals connected to them -- for instance 'Hopi ceremonies of an exceptional variety, which necessitate the intervention of the greatest number of supernatural beings that could be invested with a face and distinct attributes by the imagination' -- make this fact clear enough: that human 'thought' is everywhere and always ready to break loose. But it was once necessary to give a superior end to this release, a usually rather gross pretext. For the Hopi it is a question of 'attracting every protection over cultivation...the most important of which is maize'. To the extent that more refined religions maintain an element of poetic invention, the pretext is given in a transcendent morality, associated with salvation as a superior end. In modes of thought in which the poetic and the rational remain confounded, the mind cannot elevate itself to the conception of poetic liberty; it subordinates the existence of each instant to some ulterior goal. It has no escape from this servitude.
It is the prerogative of surrealism to free the activity of the mind from such servitude. As it consigned this activity to the shadows, rationalism stressed the binding of deeds and all thought to the end pursued. In the same way, rationalism liberated poetic activity form this binding, leaving it suspended. But the difficulty which remained was to affirm the value of what was finally released within the shadow.
In this way, what has proved to be simultaneously attained and liberated is nothing other than the instant. This is true in that man has never before been able to give value to the instant.
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 65
- [The old man] looked up smiling at Charles, whose eyes were shrunk fish-skins over his horrified soul.
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 36
- [T]he fact remains that the central elements of the situationist project -- rejection of the pseudo-world of the spectacle; support for workers' self-emancipation, the passion for freedom and true community, revolt against work and affirmation of play, détournement, revolution as festival, "consciousness of desire and desire for consciousness" -- were all essentials of surrealism's project long before the S.I. existed.
Source: Dancin' in the Streets, p. 63
- [T]he melancholy of everyday life was the stirrup that enabled Surrealism to take its wild ride through the world of dreams.
Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 37
- [T]here are fundamental ways in which the ahistorical "marvelous" is specifically understood as "la femme." In a lengthy passage from the second point of the manifesto, Breton discusses the premium he places on the dream state over the awakened one. He points out how the dream state always disrupts the awakened state and how the awakened state rationalizes away the effects of the dream state.
Source: Disruptive Testimonies: The Stakes of Surrealist Experience in Breton and Carrington, p. 93
- [T]here exist strong common references in theory between early forms of professional PR (or propaganda)...and surrealism, which also strived to influence public opinion. Surrealism arose in Paris in the first half of the 1920s, a time when on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, in the United States, Edward Bernays developed his concept of propaganda, which was finally put on paper in his canonical book Propaganda by the end of the decade (Bernays, 1928). For PR researchers and practitioners Bernays usually counts as one of the founding fathers of their professions, and it is well known that he, being the nephew of Sigmund Freud, developed his theory of PR campaigning partly on the basis of his uncle's psychoanalytical theory. It is this same basic source of inspiration in psychoanalysis that surrealists share with Bernays.
Source: Surrealistic communication as symbolic terrorism: The example of Marcel Mariën’s theory of political campaigning, p. 195-196
- [T]o the extent that it consists of a meaning or meanings concealed behind a veil of apparent absurdity which is subsequently torn away to reveal a surprising validity, [Apollinaire's] surrealism may be defined as the structural use of paradox.
Source: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, p. 202
- [W]hile the European surrealists were condemned by their society and its traditions (including its traditions of revolution and rebellion) to clumsily manipulate and juxtapose incongruent imagery, laboriously constructing outsized realities, in the European colonies and ex-colonies something like surrealism was inherent as a deeply embedded social practice in everyday life. As for surrealism, so (I would like to suggest) for dialectical images -- the the crucial difference between their European and colonial expressions being that while in Europe they were largely ignored by the populace yet (for the surrealists) "at the service of the revolution," in the colonies and ex-colonies these expressions are intrinsic to the form of life and at the service of its magicians, priests, and sorcerers.
Source: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man, p. 201
- [W]ithout a sadistic understanding of an incontestably thundering and torrential nature, there could be no revolutionaries, there could only be a revolting utopian sentimentality.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 154