Surrealpolitik

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There were 19 results from your search for keyword(s): 'Surrealism's Failure'.

  1. As...Surrealism ignored the negativity embodied in Dada, being nevertheless hard put to it to institute any positive project, it succeeded only in setting in motion the old ideological mechanism whereby today's partial revolt is turned into tomorrow's official culture.

    Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 9
  2. But how have we managed to confuse the thing itself with the expression it is given by painting or poetry?

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 49
  3. Erected as a principle, must not caprice cease to be capricious?

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 63
  4. How can we be sure that a poem or a painting accomplishes the 'sovereign operation' without which each of us serves the established order? On this score I see only a boundless opposition, and a severity of method applied without respite, as taking up the stake. The least weakness and, far from escaping the laws of the servile world, our works will serve it. It is not only seriousness and restless anxiety which constantly threaten to wipe out the odds. In point of fact, from the beginning, 'the sovereign operation' appeared rather like a dream.

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 50
  5. Indeed, in the history of Surrealism between 1919 (from the composition of Les Champs magnétiques in the shadow of the Great War and the counter with the tragedy of war trauma as captured in the proto-Surrealist récit 'Sujet' (1918), in the shadow of the death of Jacques Vaché to whom Les Champs magnétiques is dedicated) and the outbreak of World War II, at each occasion of significant self-definition in relation to the political realm, there would be a crisis and concomitant sense of failure in the movement as it would reconcile its interiority and thereby its space of difference and thus some would leave (Philippe Soupault and Artaud) or be 'expelled' (André Masson and Michel Leiris). The eventual split between Breton and Louis Aragon in 1931-32 after the debacle of the Congress of Kharkov can, certainly, be represented as the choice between a Stalinist Communism or moral independence, but it could equally be understood as a rupture in the integrity of the group thereby foregrounding an important aspect of the importance of the group in Surrealist experience, namely, the narcissistic dimension of group cohesion.

    From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 301-302
  6. Not only failure, but the sense that Surrealism is always confronted with its alterity is something that the generation of Monnerot, Rolland de Rénneville and Blanchot took for granted, hence Sartre, in his critique of Surrealism on the occasion of the 1947 L'Exposition sureéaliste, could speak of its Hegelian anthropological dimension, its dimension of totality. As early as 1925, in 'Le bouquet sans fleurs', Breton declared that nothing would be beyond Surrealist commitment, and in so doing began that vertiginous openness to systems of knowledge whilst itself avoiding systematicity. This gives that distinctive tenor of la connaissance surréaliste (Breton's term) in which one encounters a plurality of voices. In his reflections on Nadja, Blanchot would go as far as to identify this plurality of voices as definitive of Surrealist experience -- the necessary correlate of which is an incompleteness of experience -- whereby through the affirmation of the collective dimension Surrealism is always experienced by its members as something always apart from them, as something always in the third (en tiers):

    "The Surrealist affirmation affirms, thus, this multiple space which does not become unified, and which never coincides with the understanding that individuals, grouped around a faith, a work, can sustain in common." [Blanchot, L'Entretien infini, p. 600]

    From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 328
  7. That Surrealism has always been informed by the experience -- but never the celebration -- of failure, negativity and a sense of radical incompleteness is something that its ablest contemporaries recognized, a generation which once emphasized the aspects of contingency and fragility intrinsic to the Surrealist liberation and the related attempt to construct 'a new ethics and a new aesthetics'.

    From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 304
  8. The appeal to the marvellous was symptomatic of the problematical status of Surrealism as a mode of political action. The marvellous was nothing other than the resonance of creative endeavor in the quotidian, yet it could only be represented as an estrangement of the quotidian, a sudden shift in perspective that disrupted the normal circulation of signs...For Surrealism to succeed on a cultural level it had to dress politics in metaphor; yet for it to succeed politically, it had to strip culture of its metaphoric veils. Surrealism never overcame this impasse, which inscribed its political position as an over-determined subtext in Surrealist productions; hence the fugitive, provisional character of Surrealist political manifestations. Although cultural endeavour could have political repercussions under certain conditions, in Surrealism's case these repercussions were not an actuality, and they consequently assumed the form of a series of missed or failed encounters.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 72
  9. The barbarism of Stalinism which led to the loss of faith in Communism on the part of the Surrealists -- and the diction of faith is everywhere present in 'Pourquoi je prends la direction de la Révolution surréaliste' -- still went hand-in-hand with a faith that, in Valéry's famous phrase as reported by T.S. Eliot, L'Europe est finie. It was finished by the Great War, which, in Fraenkel's words, opened up an abyss, and the only issue remaining for Valéry, in the still stunning reflections of 'La Crise de l'esprit européen', was the damning and telling question: 'Will Europe become what it is in reality -- that is, a little promontory on the continent of Asia?'

    From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 333
  10. The decadence against which Coates distinguishes West's novel, I contend, refers to the paradigmatic malaise of so-called lost generation writing as described by Coates's friend Cowley in Exile's Return, his 1934 memoir of the American avant-garde's experience in interwar Paris. Even before the economic collapse of October 1929, the American modernists had already encountered a spiritual collapse, the decay and failure of the cosmopolitan ideal, which found its epitome in the death of the poet Harry Crosby, who committed suicide with his mistress in December 1929. According to Cowley, this collapse derived from the artificially-inflated spiritual value of the European avant-garde; young American writers of the 1920s found in Paris a "religion of art" embodied by Dada that "failed when it tried to become a system of ethics, a way of life" (286). As Cowley explains,

    During the 1920s all the extreme courses of action it [the religion of art] suggested had been tried once again, and all its paths had been retraced -- the way of dream, the way of escape, the ways of adventure, contemplation, and deliberate futility had all been followed toward the goal they promised of providing a personal refuge from bourgeois society, an individual paradise. But once more, and this time inescapably, it became evident that all those extreme courses were extreme only as ideals: in life there was always a sequel. (Exile's 286–87)

    Source: Anti-Menckenism: Nathanael West, Robert M. Coates, and the provisional avant-garde, p. 525-526
  11. The keen awareness of failure, incompleteness and the impossibility of adequation between an ideal and its possible instantiation in the political sphere constantly tempered the rhetoric of assertiveness that the Surrealists used in their manifestos: the writings beyond the manifestos never separate ethical reflection from the possibility of failure at the societal level. Hence the implicit importance and role of mourning in Surrealism: from the encounter with the traumatic neuroses in the Great War, from personal loss (Vaché, Nadja, Crevel) through the quest for purpose (the ruptures in deep friendship: Aragon, Eluard), there is a constant attempt to relate the movement of the group with the movement of the historical, but a historical defined in terms of the delayed recognition of personal, group and cultural loss: the time of Surrealism, from its inception, à la veille d'une révolution, is always a time to come: il faut tout attendre de l'avenir declares the frontispiece of La Révolution surréaliste in 1924; the poet evoked at the end of Les Vases communicants (1932) is the poète à venir, just as, in 'Rupture inaugurale' in 1947, marking the definitive break with Communism, now considered a form of moral extermination, 'Le surréalisme est ce qui SERA'. The temporality of Surrealism is inextricably linked to the movement of the loss of Europe (fig 57), from the still-life collage letter than Breton made for Vaché, but which was never received by its addressee, to the still-life collage that he made to commemorate the death of Vaché at the end of the War i 1919 with the fragment 'Souvenez-vous de 1914 / Pas d'allemande' creating in this circuitry a caesura of emptiness.

    From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 331-332
  12. The war seems to have put an abrupt end to a movement that was marking time. Since 1940 people have hardly thought about it. Nevertheless, the profound and real consequences that followed from it were not so easily disposed of. Doubtless surrealism is not dead...[W]e would not hesitate to say that, no matter what its defects or rigidity may have been, surrealism has given from the beginning a certain consistency to the 'morality of revolt' and that its most important contribution -- important even, perhaps, in the political realm -- is to have remained, in matters of morality, a revolution.

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 53
  13. Today there is no possibility of imbuing surrealist life with this guarantee [of the authenticity of surrealism's "ritual"] which gives belief its efficacy. This results in the sort of feeling of emptiness, hopelessness, uselessness, superfluity and frivolousness that characterizes surrealist work. I do not mean in relation to those who want to deepen its content but, rather, in the eyes of the majority of people; and no one can actually cross this boundary in the sense that common existence alone would be of a nature to determine this character of profound reality which surrealism seeks. This surreality cannot end in genuine realities because people do not believe in it, because men as a whole do not believe in it.

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 78
  14. Unfortunately Surrealism had been an ideology in the profoundest sense from the beginning; it was always doomed to be part of the game of old and new in the cultural sphere -- and could have avoided this destiny only if, say, the Spanish Revolution had triumphed over both the Stalinists and the fascists and hence made possible a transformation of Surrealism into revolutionary theory.

    Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 29
  15. What the surrealists seem most to have lacked until now is intellectual aptitude. The surrealists have even displayed a contempt for tests of the intelligence. Nevertheless, the mastery of such practice perhaps remains the key to rigorous emancipation. If individual excellence is often a sign of servility, it does not follow that we can resolve the servility of the mind by using only feeble intellectual means. Besides, if one wants to see clearly, surrealism is connected to the affirmation of its value, no less than to automatic writing itself, inasmuch as it reveals thought. What Breton taught was less to become aware of the value of automatism than to write under the dictation of the unconscious. But this teaching opened up two different paths: one led to the establishment of works, and soon sacrificed any principle to the necessities of works, so accentuating the attraction value of paintings and books. This was the path the surrealists took. The other was an arduous path to the heart of being: here only the slightest attention could be paid to the attraction of works; not that this was trivial, but what was then laid bare -- the beauty and ugliness of which no longer mattered -- was the essence of things, and it was here that the inquiry into existence in the night began. Everything was suspended in a rigorous solitude. The facilities which connect works to the 'possible', or to aesthetic pleasure, had vanished (this also extended the discussion started by Rimbaud).

    But when the Surrealist Group ceased to exist, I think the failure had a greater effect on the surrealism of works. Not that works had ceased to exist with the group: the abundance of surrealist works is as great now as it ever was. But they ceased to be connected to the affirmation of a hope of breaking the solitude. Today the books are in order on the shelves and the paintings adorn the walls. This is why I can say that the great surrealism is beginning.

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 51
  16. Whenever the occasion has arisen, I have opposed surrealism. And I would like now to affirm it from within as the demand to which I have submitted and as the dissatisfaction I exemplify. But this much is clear: surrealism is defined by the possibility that I, its old enemy from within, can have of defining it conclusively. It is genuinely virile opposition -- nothing conciliatory, nothing divine -- to all accepted limits, a rigorous will to insubordination.

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 49
  17. [I]f I except René Char, those connected with surrealism have hardly engaged in any action of significance which has not first involved the abandoning of their principles.

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 50
  18. [N]o matter how often they denied it, the Surrealists were continually (and curiously, for readers of de Sade) drawing the Christian distinction between carnal and spiritual love. Here, once again, the point of view of real practice was never grasped. What could be more Sadean than the dialectic of pleasure in its dual relationship to love on the one hand and insurrection on the other? Even the nihilist Jacques Rigaut acknowledged that any reconstruction of love must follow this path: "I have ridiculed many things. There is only one thing in the world that I have never been able to ridicule, and that is pleasure."

    Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 50
  19. [Surrealism] must...be given credit for having so very rarely failed to measure up...to the revolutionary ethic of freedom. The Surrealists' denunciation of oppression was well-nigh continual, and the violence of their tone cannot help but arouse our sympathy. The fact remains that these young people, who ought by rights to have turned themselves into theorists and practitioners of the revolution of everyday life, were content to be mere artists thereof, waging a war of mere harassment against bourgeois society as though it fell to the Communist Party alone to mount the main offensive.

    Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 39