Keyword Search Results
There were 40 results from your search for keyword(s): 'Revolution'.
- '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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- By 1925, the Surrealists were making it clear that not only was a revolution needed, but if it was going to succeed, its effects could not be limited to art schools or creative writing workshops. The conventions of consensual reality maintained by the patriarchal, white, Christian establishment in Western Europe had robbed people of their ability to imagine alternatives and wild possibilities by denigrating perception, desire, instinct and intuition. As Thédore Fraenkel said about the Surrealists' revolutionary agenda in 1936, their target was both capitalism and the middle classes, since 'in the bourgeoisie everything is false because it only allows for a disfigured life -- narrow, painful, horrible'; it is 'mean and heartless', it 'lacks intelligence' and 'envisages nothing but what is given, the scientific', thereby polluting ethics, education and expression with toxic myths of family values, religion, fatherland, war and colonialism.
From chapter: Introduction: Revolution by Night (Spiteri and LaCoss)
Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 4
- Conversation with Théodore November 1936. Political attitude of the Surrealists. First, it had as a motto: the Revolution for the Revolution. Less a political theory than an expression of Romantic despair. Destruction of all that is. With what joy R[obert] D[esnos] will set fire to the apartments of these bourgeois masses where once he would have so liked to please and shine, where he experienced a contained rage from its vulgarity, that vulgarity of the petit bourgeois world...It's a kind of nihilist dream...The Surrealists wished to go further. Above all they sought to put their ideas into practice -- Breton, tortured at once by the absolute and action, thought that Communism would be the party which would most quickly bring to the Surrealists the Revolution for which they longed....It remains that the economic aspects of Communism were then a matter of indifference to them...Were they not victims of an illusion? The worker, the fate of the worker -- basis of the party -- was it not, in the end, a matter of complete indifference, but for the hatred of the bourgeoisie?...Philosophy. Ph[ilippe] S[oupault] declares that the idea of Revolution for the sake of Revolution is an aesthetic point of view -- and admits that there has been some evolution in the ideas of the Surrealists. For me, the autonomous group which needs to be created, would have for its essential aim less the overturning of capitalism...than the overturning of the bourgeoisie. Moreover it would be necessary to go deeper in order to see if capitalism and bourgeoisie are not indissolubly bound. Why? Because in the bourgeoisie everything is false, because it only allows for a disfigured life -- narrow, painful, horrible. Because it is mean and heartless. Because it lacks intelligence; because it envisages nothing but what is given, the scientific.
From chapter: Appendix I: Notes in the Hand of Léon Pierre-Quint Being the Record of a Conversation [with Theodore Fraenkel]
Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 337-339
- Despite [Breton and Trotsky's] effort to find a common platform in 'For An Independent Revolutionary Art', one that would combine theory and practice, what begins to emerge instead, both in the manifesto and in other related essays, are the fundamental differences in their basic conceptions of imperialist capitalism and how to combat it in order to set up a socialist sate...[Surrealism's] interactions with trotskyist groups...stem back to the heated arguments between Breton and Pierre Naville in the mid-1920s. Saville, originally a member of Breton's coterie, left Surrealism for the Communist Party in 1926 after experiencing one of Breton's notorious personal attacks. That year he published a pamphlet, La Révolution et les intellectuals. Que peuvent-faire les Surréalistes?, in which he argued that Surrealism and Marxism were incompatible, as the Surrealists were too individualist and bourgeois to contribute to the collective, 'disciplined action of class struggle' necessary to overthrow capitalism. Breton responded in December 1926 with Légitime défense, which rebutted not only Naville's attack but also the refusal of the entire Communist Party to take Surrealism seriously.
From chapter: Robin Adele Greeley, For an Independent Revolutionary Art: Breton, Trotsky and Cárdenas's Mexico
Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 205-206
- 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
- Humor, which has long been neglected by many so-called revolutionaries in their attempts to prove to themselves that their intentions are together noble and serious (no doubt also because of the desolation and barrenness of their thinking), ought to be given the recognition it has long deserved and regain its rightful place in the revolutionary struggle.
Source: Dancin' in the Streets, p. 198
- In glaring contrast [to the IWW], the left groups we ran into -- the many varieties of social-democratic, Stalinist, Trotskyist, and Maoist organizations, as well as others that appeared to be foundering somewhere in-between one or more of these ideologies--were repulsively middle-class, authoritarian, dogmatic, narrow-minded, sectarian, humorless, and utterly incapable of even the smallest original idea. Most of them were hung up on electoral politics, and spent an inordinate amount of time denouncing sects even smaller than their own...
We recognized the IWW as "Joe Hill's union" and the direct heir of 1880s "Chicago Idea" anarchism--a fundamentally anti-authoritarian group that left open lots of room for individual and small-group improvisation; the only group in which we could develop our wide-ranging inclinations: to rethink revolutionary theory, to explore the subversive possibilities of popular culture, and above all to pursue our passion for poetic action: that is, for life as adventure. We knew that IWW perspectives had a place for all these, and that no other group would even tolerate them.
Source: Dancin' in the Streets, p. 17
- In our dream, revolution was a joyful jubilee.
Source: Dancin' in the Streets, p. 40
- 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 was through the critical rejection of all existing political, social and moral codes that Fourier said he first caught a glimpse of the mechanisms of 'passionate attraction' -- natural impulses and cadences that occur on a level below the threshold of thought processes and which persist regardless of civilization's attempt to repress them through the artificial constructs of moralization, rationalization, guilt, fear and intolerance. If one were to recalibrate his or her life to that unified rhythmic pulse buried under the noise and tumult of modern life, and work toward building social formations that were similarly fine-tuned to these rhythms, then human life would evolve into a new, more natural harmonious order of cooperative unity, free passion, profound fulfillment and ludic pleasure.
From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 273-274
- 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
- More telling still is the way that the radical revolutionaries defined -- or invented -- their enemies in relation to their special vision of the revolution. The men who dominated the Committee of Public Safety, Robespierre and Saint-Just, like the editor of L'ami du peuple Jean-Paul Marat, invested the people with a republican virtue that was often too sublime for the real world. They framed issues in absolutes and opposites: Robespierre's rhetoric invoked 'all the virtues and all the miracles of the Republic' against 'the vices and the absurdities of the monarchy'. Counter-revolutionaries were labelled monsters, ferocious beasts, vultures, leeches, or -- if allowed human status at all -- brigands, and were found even more frequently amongst the lower orders than amongst the aristocracy. There might be a monarchist or a 'non-juring' priest (one who refused to accept the Civil Constitution of the Clergy) under every bed. Along with these negative or visceral identifications went the positive identification of revolutionary justice, in the form of lynching. Marat argued from the outset that such killing was an imprescriptible right of the sovereign people: the natural violence required to resist oppression and preserve liberty against tyranny. Altogether this provided an ideological charter for the most extreme action, without compunction or remorse.
Source: Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction, p. 39
- 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
- Other Surrealists shared Aragon's contempt for communism. Eduard called it 'a mediocre regime which, just like capitalism, depends on the crude and repulsive order of physical labour.' The group did not yet see revolutionary politics as the means of satisfying their grievances against the world; Breton told Jacques Baron: 'We just don't bother ourselves with politics'.
It was not until the summer of 1925 that the Surrealists began to reassess their resources and what they meant by 'revolution'. The public had remained cheerfully immune to threats of the Terror and an Oriental scourge however vividly these horrors were evoked in the columns of La Révolution surréaliste. Breton realized that the social order was not going to yield before mere invective whose extravagant violence rendered it ridiculous. If their revolution was not to deteriorate into an impotent nonconformism it had to be given some tangible content, if necessary social content, and join forces with other revolutionary intellectuals. Critics like Marcel Arland had been quick to pigeonhole the Surrealists' revolt as a symptom of a 'nouveau mal de siècle' or to identify the group as a latter-day generation of 'poètes maudits'. To avoid this forcible assimilation into a literary avant-garde which they despised, no better means was to hand than affiliations with proletarian politics. The press furore aroused by the Surrealists' behaviour at the banquet in honor of the poet Saint-Pol-Roux, where they had shouted overtly political slogans for the first time, proved that this was the way to make the public take notice of their protest.
Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 21
- 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
- Rebellion is its own justification, completely independent of the chance it has to modify the state of affairs that gives rise to it. It's a spark in the wind, but a spark in search of a powder keg.
Source: Arcanum 17, p. 120
- Recognizing that certain rare moments in our lives radiate wonder, excitement, curiosity, and pleasure, we maintained that the central aim of poetry was to multiply those moments of perturbation and thus to create the conditions for a new (poetic) way of life for all.
Source: Dancin' in the Streets, p. 11
- T-Bone [Slim]'s audacious imagination, flamboyant wordplay, and black humor, along with his marvelous maxims ("Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack"; "Half a loaf is better than no loafing at all") and his ability to regard old problems from the most improbable new angles (with results worthy of Alfred Jarry's Pataphysics), convinced us that the IWW project of working-class self-emancipation went hand in hand with all that we meant by the word poetry.
Source: Dancin' in the Streets, p. 20
- 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 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 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 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 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 writings by the young Marx evidence a utopian quality. They give precedence to the anthropological and existential elements of human misery rather than capitalist exploitation of a purely economic sort.
Source: Critical Theory, p. 35
- To prevent further calamities [after the atrocities of WWI and WWII], the poisonously narrow and limiting conditions of life under the bourgeoisie needed to be dismantled by braiding together the complexities of individual revolt and the many-headed beast of collective rebellion -- social realities had to be recovered in all their intensity and transformed into deeper, higher and more real levels of reality by delivering the means of production (material and mental) into the hands of the most exploited peoples...thus affiliation with Communism seemed to be the necessary first step to the Surrealist revolution, and those who were uncomfortable with this more explicit political position soon distanced themselves from the movement. But this does not mean that the Surrealists' revolutionary ambitions were strictly confined to participation in the PCF. In the 1920s, the Surrealists explored Leninist-Marxism because of 'what was then understood to be the triumph of the Russian Revolution and the dawning of a Workers' State', and when the USSR revealed itself to be a place 'where the most servile kind of obedience is expected, where the most basic of human rights are rejected, and where all social life orbits around the policeman and the state executioner', the Surrealists became strident anti-Stalinists. By the end of the Spanish Civil War, they found themselves more openly aligned with Trotskyists and anarchists; after World War II, when it was immediately apparent that Stalinist state-capitalism and American Marshall Plan market expansion were as threatening to humanity as fascism had been in the 1930s, the Surrealists collaborated with anarcho-communists, anti-imperialists, internationalists and other movements committed to radical freedom.
Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 4
- 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
- What distinguished the Rebel Worker group from all the other groups that claimed to be against capitalism? What made us so different? The answers are obvious: humor, poetry, and breadth of vision -- which are a large part of what make a revolution revolutionary. Our critique focused not only on Capital, work and the workplace, but also and above all on everyday life. Our aim, as our Philadelphia correspondent Judy Kaplan put it, was "to be revolutionary in everything."
Source: Dancin' in the Streets, p. 38
- [A]fter ten years of seeing Europe crushed under the boots of fascist murderers and their self-serving political collaborators, the time had come for an even more revolutionary flavor of liberation that had exceeded the fantasies of Marx and Engels -- there was a need for a set of ideas that would totally reorder the very fabric of the universe in the service of freedom, and the Surrealists saw this as the best reason for a renaissance of Romantic socialism and Fourierist poetics. In a postwar political climate dominated by the viciously cynical Jesuit device of 'ends justify means', talk of Fourier introduced two things that were sorely lacking: a blackly humorous critical (and therefore revolutionary) spark and an unwavering dedication to the complete emancipation of human beings. 'Action, even in the rigorous and unquestioned form it takes today for those who fight in the name of liberty, will only be valuable so long as our interpretation of the world...will not have the brakes slammed on it', Breton thundered. The revolutionary poetry of Fourier's socialism was exactly the kind of critical extravagance that a truly free and freedom-respecting society should be able to tolerate and welcome.
From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 279-280
- [A]n institution differs from a conversation in that it always requires supplementary constraints for statements to be declared admissible within its bounds. The constraints function to filter discursive potentials, interrupting possible connections in the communication networks: there are things that should not be said...However, this hypothesis about the institution is still too "unwieldy": its point of departure is an overly "reifying" view of what is institutionalized. We know today that the limits the institution imposes on potential language "moves" are never established, once and for all (even if they have been formally defined). Rather, the limits are themselves the stakes and provisional results of language strategies, within the institution and without...Reciprocally, it can be said that the boundaries only stabilize when they cease to be stakes in the game.
Source: The Postmodern Condition, p. 17
- [Fourier's] Theory of the Four Movements offers detailed accounts of life following this cataclysmic transmogrification. The auroras of the northern and southern circumpolar regions become more active and more frequent, eventually expanding to link together like the rings of Saturn and filling the earth's skies with rippling curtains of colour, light and heat. Over time, the outer edge of the earth's aurora-ring will extend to the corona of the sun, and the ensuing radiation will trigger a magical change in the natural world -- animals will learn to play musical instruments, stars will copulate and spray us all with their sexual fluids, weather patterns will shift, new moons begin to revolve the earth, and the chemical composition of the world's oceans change to 'aigresel', a tart, potable liquid. Even the human body mutates under the rays of the 'northern crown' as human beings overcome the need for sleep and grow taller. Humans will also sprout an 'archibras' ('ancient arm'), a prehensile tail with a sensory organ at its tip that will act as a fifth limb and enable one 'to swim as fast as a fish', to 'reach a branch twelve feet high', to triple one's natural leaping velocity, and to form a revolving, conelike 'inverted parachute by means of which one can fall from a considerable height without risking more than a bruise'.
From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 274-275
- [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
- [W]hen surrealism put forward the idea of myth, it was in response to a vibrant nostalgia in the mind of contemporary peoples, which has been alive not only since Nietzsche but even since German Romanticism. Moreover, religion is constituted by the connection to the myth of rituals. No one, then, can fail to know that the clearest certainty of surrealism is to manage to rediscover the attitudes of mind that allowed primitive man to combine in ritual and, more precisely, to find in ritual the most incisive and tangible forms of poetic life...it is simply a question of exploring all that can be explored by man, it is a question of reconstituting all that was fundamental to man before human nature had been enslaved by the necessity for technical work.
Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 75
- [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