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There were 38 results from your search for keyword(s): 'Crime/Noir'.
- "In other words, we have to say to our owner: this is how Domani would have been had it appeared yesterday. Understood? And, if we wanted to, even if no one had actually thrown the bomb, we could easily do an issue as if."
"Or throw the bomb ourselves if we felt like it," sneered Braggadocio.
"Let's not be silly," cautioned Simei. Then, almost as an afterthought, "And if you really want to do that, don't come telling me."
Source: Numero Zero, p. 32
- "These people love to gamble and when they have lost everything they kill themselves. Perhaps I would not have become a policeman if I had known how much time I would have to spend in mortuaries. I do not like the smell of ammonia. Perhaps after all I will have a beer."
Source: The Quiet American, p. 159
- 'Do load again,' she cried, 'Sydney! I love it awfully. It's just beautiful -- for a mere toy, you know -- only to amuse one's self with. I think it's really a lovely invention. I could go on firing all the evening.'
'So could I,' Sydney answered, reloading quickly. 'I love to see the noiseless effect produced so instantaneously on the board opposite one. It seems so like the "Arabian Nights." You pull a trigger, and hi, presto! a man falls down dead at once before you.'
'Would it go through a man like that?' Maimie asked, shuddering, even as she fired.
'To be sure it would. Clean through him at a shot. Its explosive force is, weight for weight, about fourteen times that of gunpowder. You don't care for the exact decimals, I suppose, do you?'
'I don't know what decimals are, I'm sure,' Maimie answered, with a little toss of her pretty round head; 'but I don't like to think about a bullet making a great hole like that right through a human body. I call it awfully wicked of you, Sydney, to go inventing new ways of killing off your fellow-creatures. Load the pistol again for me please, will you?'
Sydney laughed, and loaded gaily.
Source: For Maimie's Sake: A Tale of Love and Dynamite, p. 158
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 the criminal mind, and sympathy with criminality, may not be as foreign to crime novels on the whole as the terrorist mind and sympathy with terrorism are to our sample of terrorism novels.
Source: Terrorism and the Novel, 1970-2001, p. 423
- 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
- Hitherto the marionettes had only laughed, or if they wept it had been with smiling grimaces and without the eloquence given by the tears now trickling down their cheeks and falling in streams on to the stage which had been the scene of so many cheerful farces.
Don Benjamin thought that the painful element in the drama would make the children cry, and his surprise knew no bounds when he saw them laugh more heartily than before, with wide open mouths and happy expressions. The sight of tears made the children laugh. The sight of blows made the children laugh...However, the little puppet went on for a long time using the device with the syringe, and making the marionettes cry to amuse the children.
Source: El Senor Presidente, p. 53-54
- 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
- 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 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
- It is these dynamics [rise of statistics and bureaucracy] that structure the discourses of identification at the end of the nineteenth century and accompany the emergence of the figure of an invisible enemy. The rise of statistical knowledge goes hand in hand with a decline of faith in the optical gaze: what is made evident by the production of the image is at the same time suspected of leaving space for further interpretation, or even -- a line of argument to be found both in aesthetic as well as in police discourse -- of systematically concealing some hidden truth underneath.
From chapter: Hendrik Blumentrath, Enmity and the Archive
Source: Literature and Terrorism: Comparative Perspectives, p. 73-74
- 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
- Murder will out, says the old-fashioned proverb -- a proverb of days more believing than our own. But murder will not always out, thought Jocelyn Cipriano; as a matter of fact, how many times a year is the proverb falsified?
Source: For Maimie's Sake: A Tale of Love and Dynamite, p. 196
- 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
- People think this is something that started in Central America during Iran-Contra, but it started in China when the US backed Chiang Kai-shek in the 1920s. The only way that Chiang Kai-shek could finance his government was through the opium trade. There were laws restricting the opium trade, but the US turned a blind eye to Chiang's opium business because they didn't want the Communists taking over China. The United States has been engaged in an unstated policy since the 1920s of supporting its political allies by allowing the leadership to make fortunes dealing drugs.
Source: The CIA as Organized Crime, p. 210
- 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 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 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 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
- There is a surrealist light:...it is the beam of flashlights on the murdered and on love.
Source: A Wave of Dreams, p. 35
- 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
- Unlike the psychiatrists of the Société Médico-Psychologique, Bataille scorned the surrealists for the extent to which they did not really mean what they said: their violent written and visual rhetoric, he argued, was circumscribed by a conceptual idealism that, for all its attempts to embody the idea of revolution physically, was not truly physical at all.The antidote for such conceptual idealism, Bataille claimed, was a form of critical practice derived from Sade. The surrealists praised Sade's prison screams as a mode of political expression directed against the repressive institutions of an aristocratic social order; Bataille, by contrast, championed the fundamentally inarticulate nature of any such cries, asserting that they nevertheless had prompted the masses to storm the Bastille.
Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 150
- 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
- Whatever the reality of terrorism may be -- and a good deal of criticism and theoretical work has regarded terrorism as something that is i effect really real, a Laconian "real" defying symbolization (for example, Zizek 2002 [Welcome to the Desert of the Real] and Baudraillard 2003 [The Spirit of Terrorism and Other Essays]) -- fiction has taken up terrorism as a thing of its own.
But what is this "thing," this narrative thing? What does terrorism do in novels? What in fact is it, and how does it operate? ...In the context of the mass media, William A. Douglass and Joseba Zulaika (1996) have discussed what they call the "mythography" of terrorism: taken up by the press, by politicians and policy makers, by television producers and filmmakers, terrorism is inserted into an "enabling fiction," a myth of terrorism and its causes, dangers, and meanings, which ends up making its own realities. The result of this mythography is not simply a distortion of perception; it is the replacement of the perception of things with a reaction to representations. Policies end up being made, wars even end up being fought, not in response to real conflicts in the realms of social relations and politics, but in reaction to the simulacra of conflict circulated in the media by way of a mythography of terror.
Fiction, we perceive, both responds to this mythography and contributes to it...
Source: Terrorism and the Novel, 1970-2001, p. 388-389
- When in 1898 the International Anti-Anarchist Conference was held in Rome to find new means of controlling the seemingly rising threat of anarchist terrorism, this threat had already been framed as a serious crisis of visibility. Rendered possible by the invention of dynamite by Alfred Nobel, a previously unknown concept of enmity evolved at the close of the nineteenth century, and with the emerging figure of the dynamiter, nothing less than the disappearance of the visible enemy seemed to have set in.
From chapter: Hendrik Blumentrath, Enmity and the Archive
Source: Literature and Terrorism: Comparative Perspectives, p. 67
- [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
- [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
- [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
- [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