Surrealpolitik

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There were 26 results from your search for keyword(s): 'Ambiguity'.

  1. "I wasn't trying to paint his soul or anything: I just wanted to get him done well enough to please Betty's mother. And when I'd done it I stared at it and I thought: 'Either I don't know what he is or he doesn't know where he is.' But a fellow who's put it over all America and bits of England is likely to know where he is, I suppose, so I must just have got him completely wrong. It's odd, all the same. I generally manage to make something more or less definite. This man looks as if he were being frightfully definite and completely indefinite at the same moment -- an absolute master and a lost loony at once."

    Source: All Hallows' Eve, p. 21
  2. "Must we always wait centuries, and always know we waited, and needn't have waited, and that it all took so long and was so dreadful?"

    Source: All Hallows' Eve, p. 104
  3. "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
  4. Any definition of political terrorism which ventures beyond noting the systematic use of murder, injury and destruction, or the threat of such acts aimed at achieving political ends, is bound to lead to endless controversies. Some terrorist groups have been indiscriminate and their victims 'symbolic', others have acted differently. Some merely wanted to create a climate of fear, others aimed at the physical destruction of their opponents tout court. Purists will argue that one is not even entitled to stress the systematic character of terrorism because in some cases the execution of a single act did have the desired effect (Sarajevo 1914). It can be predicted with confidence that the disputes about a comprehensive, detailed definition of terrorism will continue for a long time, that they will not result in a consensus, and that they will make no notable contribution towards the understanding of terrorism. These observations, made ten years ago, still apply today.

    Source: The Age of Terrorism, p. 72
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. Fiction holds some promise for the understanding of the terrorist phenomenon but some words of caution are nevertheless called for. Terrorism has figured prominently in works of modern literature, but the novels, plays, poems and films are of unequal value in providing historical evidence and psychological explanation -- some are of no value at all, at least for our purpose.

    It is easy to point to certain common patterns in the study of terrorism as practiced by political scientists, for there are only a few basic schools of thought, with only minor variations within each trend. The conclusions may not be true, but they are certainly stated in an orderly, unequivocal fashion as befitting a scientific discipline. With the transition from the sciences to the arts we move from the level of relative certainties to the realm of impression. To provide a coherent framework of orderly and lucid argument, to single out common patterns becomes well nigh impossible. It can be done, but only by singling out certain themes in certain books (or plays or films) at the expense of others. Literature as a source for the study of terrorism is still virtually terra incognita.

    Source: The Age of Terrorism, p. 174
  10. I would like to pursue another hypothesis: namely, that Chesterton in 1908 as well as in 1936 wants his definite reading of his own book to mean that the path of definiteness can only be arrived at through double or multiple ambiguous and equivocal meanings, which are the necessary detour whereby a sure direction or aim, and a certain belief, are discovered and achieved. A hierarchy is intended: the means to certainty is equivocal, but only equivocation can clear a path for certainty, which then subordinates equivocation...It is necessary to be lost in order to be found might be another formula for this process.

    Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 153-154
  11. It was the nature of that world to produce not so much evil art as bad art.

    Source: All Hallows' Eve, p. 149
  12. 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
  13. Modernism tends to stand for the cultivation of equivocal and multiple meanings, not for 'double-writing'. If modernism rightly stands for a cultural breakthrough of a new emphasis on indefiniteness...then Chesterton's double-writing is outside modernism. But I have found myself wondering, thanks to Chesterton, if modernism is not also outside of itself....Chesterton wouldn't be an outsider at all, if the supposition were tenable. To be tenable, we should have to discover two sides or simultaneous structures in notable modernist works: a side that is multiple and ambiguous in meaning, and a side in which there is a contrasting unequivocal resolution of multiplicity and ambiguity. I think the more we look for these simultaneously present structures the more we will find them; we tend not to find them, I suggest, because we insist that one side is modernist, and the other is outside modernism. In modern narratives about anarchist-terrorism these two sides are most prominent; indeed, this particular political thematics, I suggest, magnetizes narrative artists because it makes vivid the tense conflict and collaboration of ambiguous meaning and disambiguating resolution.

    Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 155
  14. Such scepticism [i.e., about terrorism] is exemplified in Walter Laqueur's The Age of Terrorism (1987). In spite of naming an era of terrorism, Laqueur uses his book to reduce 'the age' to something like a figment of collective imagination. Under his scrutiny, the meaning of terrorism is decentred -- even exploded. So detached is he from respect for, or from belief in, his terrorists subjects that he seems curiously anarchistic himself -- that is, when he is not appearing to be as certain as any terrorist in his judgment that terrorism is only contemporary nonsense, however lethal.

    Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 160
  15. 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
  16. The Clerk sat and spoke...A curious flatness was in his voice. He was practicing and increasing this, denying accents and stresses to his speech. Wise readers of verse do their best to submit their voices to the verse, letting the words have their own proper value, and endeavour to leave to them their precise proportion and rhythm. The Clerk was going farther yet. He was removing meaning itself from the words...he turned, or sought to turn, words into mere vibrations.

    Source: All Hallows' Eve, p. 62
  17. The narrative [of Thursday] intends to argue that terrorists and anarchists do not exist, that only the fear of the existence of anarchy and terrorism exists; even so, the narrative itself, despite its intentional argumentation, makes God still look like a terrorist. It thereby makes the anti-modernist poet of law and order also look like his opposite.

    Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 153
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. The vagueness, the dreaming, the doubtful hanging-about are permitted only on the borders of intellectual life, and in this world they were rare. Neither angels not insects know them, but only bewildered man.

    Source: All Hallows' Eve, p. 46
  22. 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
  23. Unfortunately...a comprehensive and universally accepted definition [of terrorism] does not exist...This is not altogether surprising. Even now, four decades after the end of the Fascist era, the controversies about its character continue and there is no generally accepted definition. But its contemporaries had to confront Fascism in any case, on both the theoretical and practical level. There is no agreement to this day about what socialism is, and the same is true with regard to most other movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. historians do not agree to this day about the French Revolution, Napoleon, imperialism or the outbreak of the First World War -- let alone about more recent events...

    The author of a recent excellent research guide to the concepts, theories and literature on political terrorism has collected 109 different definitions provided by various writers between 1936 and 1981, and there is every reason to assume that there have been more since. Most authors agree that terrorism is the use or the threat of the use of violence, a method of combat, or a strategy to achieve certain targets, that it aims to induce a state of fear in the victim, that it is ruthless and does not conform with humanitarian rules, and that publicity is an essential factor in the terrorist strategy. Beyond this point definitions diverge, often sharply.

    Source: The Age of Terrorism, p. 142-143
  24. What Syme sees now [in Chesterton's Thursday] is not indeterminacy, but new certainty. The anarchist and the ruler are alike, not because they are each other's doubles, but because each of them separately doubles a third -- and very surprising -- figure: the figure of a besieged but fierce and also generous justice, itself the product of obedience to law. Justice is the law-serving energy, the passion and force which we miseries by the names anarchism and terrorism. We are wrong to think terrorism is the opposite of justice. The character of the latter is for Chesterton -- and for Syme in his moment of 'seeing' -- unambiguously the same as the character of the former. But the 'one burst of blazing light', the ultimate revelation (digging deeper and blowing higher) -- that this is what there is to see, that justice too is terror -- arrives only thanks to the proliferation of double or multiple meanings...the product of strayed meanings is new meaning.

    Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 162
  25. [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
  26. [With reference to The Eater of Darkness] As the narrative unfolds, as if to intermit and oppose the unambiguous certainty of knowledge and power encoded in the weapon and its artist-inventor, the form of the unfolding ambiguities the tale's elements. The identity of the terrorist and of the narrator both lose outline and coherence; the inventor is frustrated by the narrator, and the attempt to capture the inventor and to bring him to justice fissions into multiple indeterminate plots. But there is a final surprise, one that exhibits the way Coates's typically modernist experimentation resolves itself into a double-writing. The ambiguation of the narrative reverses itself. We become more and more certain that the narrator's involvement with the terrorist and his invention has displaced the narrator's aggressions towards the beloved woman he's left behind in Paris. The resolution of the displacement brings the narrative elements out of the realm of ambiguous and uncertain impressions. In this result the machine is destroyed. But in a sense it is re-built: as the new sureness of knowledge the narrator has reached concerning his desires, with which he now is directly in touch, and in which he now fully trusts. The machine was the wrong model of this certain knowledge, but it was and remains a model, nevertheless. The light of sure knowledge not surprisingly is an eater of darkness.

    Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 167-168