Surrealpolitik

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  1. "As always, we Surrealists still hold that our foremost objective be the liberation of humanity, and we cannot keep silent when confronted by a senseless and repugnant crime such as this. Surrealism only has meaning so long as it stands against a regime whose membership views this indignity as a joyous re-awakening, a regime that, from the moment of its inception, collapsed into a mire of compromise and extortion and that can only be a calculated prelude to the implementation of a new totalitarianism." [from the collective declaration, 'Liberté est un mot vietnamien']

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 288
  2. "Balzac was the first to speak of the ruins of the bourgeoisie," [Benjamin] writes in the first (1935) version of Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century, "but it was Surrealism that first opened our eyes to them."

    Source: Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History, p. 5
  3. "I should like," Huddleberry was saying, "I should like to write a detective story -- a mystery story...But one in which no one should know what crime had been committed -- nor who had committed it..."

    "That's true of all crimes, isn't it, rather?" asked Charles and watched himself inject a careless laugh, like a hypodermic, into the man's mind. But:

    "No one...There should be a dream quality about it all..." His eye lighted; a rising enthusiasm informed his customarily level tones and he waved his long thin hands in wider gestures -- "A dream quality, yes; a brooding sense of Something -- no one quite knowing what -- but Something dread, and menacing, and terrible. A Something that sets all the boasted power of civilization at naught --," he raised his hand as Charles gave evidence of being about to speak, "--at naught, and mocks the puny strength of men..."

    Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 142
  4. "I Zimbra"'s origin encodes Fear of Music's motifs in one other sense: the Dada movement itself was a response to "life during wartime." The european aftermath of the Great War seemed to dwarf all attempts at humane commemoration or remorse; trench warfare and mustard gas and shellshock were the language Hugo Ball and his fellow Dadaists sought to overwrite with their avant-gibberish.

    Source: Fear of Music, p. 9
  5. "Men, women, statesmen, courtesans, plotters...and yet, in the mind of each the dread questions are constantly impending -- 'What is it that threatens?' -- 'And for whom?' -- 'If Death, then who shall be the victim?' -- 'Who the murderer?' -- 'Where the scene of the tragedy?' -- 'Shall it be I who will strike the fatal blow?' -- 'Or shall I receive it?' ..."

    He paused again, staring dramatically at the corner of the ceiling. "And the end -- dramatic, inevitable, but veiled in mystery....'Was there a murder?' -- 'Who was the victim?' -- they shall ask, my characters. And as each sinks shudderingly to sleep -- 'Was it I who killed, last night as I thought I slept?' -- 'Am I, even now, am I dead?'... Ah! Yes! It shall be my greatest work, that. It would go well in the American Mercury, don't you think?"

    Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 144-145
  6. 'Ecart absolu' -- 'Total Refusal' of all known theories -- was an integral part of Fourier's social analysis first formulated in Theory of the Four Movements to explain his absolute disdain for civilization and his singular cosmogonic view of the world. 'The surest means of making useful discoveries was to deviate in every way from the paths followed by the dubious sciences [Fourier's term for politics, political economy, metaphysics and morality] which had never made the slightest discovery useful to society...I made it my business to remain in constant opposition to these sciences'. Fourier's Incoherent Industry, a text which began as an abolitionist's pamphlet before spiraling off into a beautifully frenzied textual collage, continued that line of inquiry and explicitly tied the Total Refusal method to an aggressive condemnation of the fundamental rot pervasive throughout Western civilization's most precious values. The 'incoherent industry' of Fourier's title referred to the perverse, 'non-associative' (disjointed, exploitative, dangerous and inefficient in Fourier's terms) labours required to keep capitalist civilization alive -- capitalism, of course, relies on an economic, industrial and financial base that is necessarily opaque, fractured, fragmented, and alienating for its workers. Fourier saw his method of complete disdain for all existing philosophical, scientific and epistemological systems as a means for clearing the slate and making way for innovative new discoveries, 'thus, l'écart absolu stemmed from the sense of the irrationality of moral restrictions and the vast possibilities of liberation implied in abolishing them'. In this respect, Fourier's écart absolu is akin to the Surrealists' own 'non conformisme absolu of the Second Manifesto of Surrealism; it is also similar to Breton's 1942 dedication to always being the one who dares to say 'no'.

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 293
  7. 'Atomics is a very intricate theorem and can be worked out with algebra but you would want to take it by degrees because you might spend the whole night proving a bit of it with rulers and cosines and similar other instruments and then at the wind-up not believe what you had proved at all. If that happened you would have to go back over it till you got a place where you could believe your own facts and figures as delineated from Hall and Knight's Algebra and then go on again from that particular place till you had the whole thing properly believed and not have bits of it half-believed or a doubt in your head hurting you like when you lose the stud of your shirt in bed.'

    Source: The Third Policeman, p. 73
  8. 'The press in so-called "free" France, subject to censorship now more than ever, remains silent about the secret war in Asia,' the Surrealist tract began. But make no mistake about it -- such a battle was taking place, 'an imperialist war executed in the name of people who have only just been liberated themselves from five years of oppression against another people unified in common consent by their desire for liberty', one that had been nimbly engineered by a conniving 'admiral-monk' and his 'cruel capitalist tyranny of bureaucrats and priests'. To cover up this shameful affair, 'not a word can be heard about the fierce repression being done to hide a scandal from the French people which upsets the entire world'. In 1946, 'as in 1919, capitalism has abused that noblest of key words -- 'freedom' -- in the name of patriotism and with the intent to secure total control, thereby preserving its traditional imperialist policies and reassembling the power of its bourgeois financiers, army and clergy'. The war in Vietnam also held a 'grave significance' for Communist officials, as it revealed their contempt for 'the anti-colonialist legacy that was once one of the most impelling forces of the workers' movement' and their 'flagrant disregard for the right of self-determination' of which they so often proclaim themselves the defenders. 'We call upon those who can still think clearly and with some modicum of honesty to remind [the Communists] that it is impossible to maintain freedom here while imposing slavery there'.

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 287
  9. 'The thought of all human activity makes me laugh.' This utterance of Aragon's shows very clearly the path Surrealism had to follow from its origins to its politicization. In his excellent essay 'La révolution et les intellectuels', Pierre Naville, who originally belonged to this group, rightly called this development dialectical. In the transformation of a highly contemplative attitude into revolutionary opposition, the hostility of the bourgeoisie toward every manifestation of radical intellectual freedom played a leading part. This hostility pushed Surrealism to the left. Political events, above all the war in Morocco, accelerated this development.

    Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 52
  10. '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
  11. 'Without its Empire, France would be nothing other than a liberated country', one leading French politician gloated at the time [1946]. 'But thanks to her [sic] Empire, France is today a victorious country', an opinion that Communists saw no need to criticize. The Surrealists, however, reacted immediately to the atrocities in Indochina and in a language that is impossible to interpret as 'apolitical'. And while there is no mention of copulating star systems or endlessly blazing Northern lights, one can see the hand of Fourier's radical thinking between the lines of their blistering collective declaration, 'Liberté est un mot vietnamien'.

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 286-287
  12. Apparently there is no limit, Joe remarked. Anything can be said in this place and it will be true and will have to be believed.

    Source: The Third Policeman, p. 74
  13. Down Below is as much a work of paranoiac theory as a memoir of Carrington's nervous illness; its paranoia is characterized not only by its unconscious production of symptoms (interpretive delirium, persecution mania) but also by its auto-analysis and its self-conscious ties to surrealist discourse...Indeed, Carrington's narrative of "inner experience" is in dialogue with the writings on paranoia that form a central part of surrealist thinking in the 1930s and again in the mid-1940s...[and] show Carrington in the process of redirecting paranoiac theory toward contemporary surrealist thinking about collective social myths.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 218
  14. The Assignment repeatedly demonstrates a concern with the problematics, and especially with the political implications, of literary realism...[T]he critique of realism offered by neo-Marxist critics suggests its repressive potential as a "fantasy of surveillance" corresponding to nineteenth-century developments in psychiatry and urban sociology, a form of policing, enforcing social norms and denying aberrations. Yet in spite of the frequency with which recent critics cite Bakhtin's argument that the realistic novel's dialogism brings about "a destruction of any absolute bonding of ideological meaning to language, which is the defining factor of mythological and magical thought," the critique of realism as allied with official views of reality remains a key point in the postmodernist program (Bakhtin 369).

    Source: Plotting Terror, p. 114-115
  15. [C]amouflage is a word trying desperately to live up to its name, scattering fairy dust in your eyes, blinding you in two different ways. One is camouflage through blending to the point of concealment, as with mimicry; the other is to dazzle, by which I mean to distort and to misdirect attention as with cubist-style painting. Misdirection is what conjurors and pickpockets purportedly do, and this is why camouflage is sometimes said to belong to the same universe as magic and pulling off the perfect crime, a point not lost on the British War Office, which, in 1940, established its Camouflage Centre wit a team including a magician, a surrealist painter, and a famous zoologist. Although these two principles, blending and dazzling, seem opposed, they very often combine in nature, which includes warfare and politics. This apparent contradiction is worth thinking about as it goes, I believe, to the heart of life.

    Source: Zoology, Magic, and Surrealism in the War on Terror, p. S107
  16. A critical standpoint on aesthetics now suggested that the aim of art is not to depict the wrongs of society int elastic terms, offer platitudes about how things should be, or pander to the masses. Critical theory must redefine mimesis with an eye on montage, stream of consciousness, and other techniques that offer new forms -- new illusions -- for experiencing reality and eliciting the utopian longings of the audience. These longings are probably strongest when the conditions for their realization are most improbable. Herein perhaps is the meaning behind the famous words of Walter Benjamin from his essay on Kafka: "It is only for the sake of the hopeless that hope is given to us."

    Source: Critical Theory, p. 64
  17. A pamphlet published on 7 June 1947 by the Revolutionary Surrealists, a dissident Belgian group, had issue a salutary warning to the movement as a whole...:

    Landlords, crooks, Druids, poseurs, all your efforts have been in vain: we persist in relying on SURREALISM in our quest to bring the universe and desire INTO ALIGNMENT...First and foremost, we guarantee that Surrealism will no longer serve as a standard for the vainglorious, nor as a springboard for the devious, nor as a Delphic oracle; it will no longer be the philosopher's stone of the distracted, the battleground of the timid, the pastime of the lazy, the intellectualism of the impotent, the draft of blood of the "poet" or the draft of wine of the littérateur.

    But, as though to give the true measure of their protest, and certainly exemplifying the grotesquerie which would thenceforward dog Surrealism in its dotage, the aforesaid signatories declared without further ado that they placed their entire faith in the Communist Party!

    Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 32
  18. A striking series of contrasts may be drawn between Communist propaganda and the Surrealist literature of protest. While the former was addressed to those who might one day make the revolution, the latter was written for its potential victims. The Surrealists' aim was to demoralize their readers and to provoke a class-betrayal on the model of their own. As René Crevel wrote of his most recent book: 'I don't care to see Ete-Vous Fous? as anything more than a modest contribution to public demoralization'. While the Communists interpreted contemporary events in the light of the inevitable economic collapse of capitalism, the Surrealists exposed the moral and cultural symptoms of the same débâcle. Communist theory explained the substructure of the social system and the Surrealists denounced and ridiculed the decrepit superstructure. They sought not so much to convince as to move, not so much to argue the cause of a particular program as to arouse the feeling of revolt and to prompt the demand that something must be done. While the Communists instructed the proletariat in the strategy of revolution, the Surrealists were trying to bring about the emotional climate in which the revolution might break out.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 27
  19. 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
  20. After the rupture with the PCF as recorded in the still magnificent document 'Du temps que les surréalistes avaient raison' (1935), the Surrealists joined with Georges Bataille in 1935 to form a radical left non-party formation named Contre-Attaque: Union de luttes des intellectuels révolutionnaires, not only to challenge the Party but to explore 'the continuation of politics by other means' (Bataille). in so doing, both Bataille and Beton are clear that the creation of the Front Popular in 1935 would not in itself be sufficient to bring about the kind of radical transformation of values that would alone suffice: it is not merely a rejection of capitalism and the bourgeoisie that would be required, but a fundamental change in the values and conceptions of reason that had informed Western and European self-understanding, the very values which, Nietasche and Valéry had argued in a manner definitive for the Surrealist generation, were also the basis of European nihilism.

    From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 302
  21. All too frequently, previous discussions of the politics of Surrealism have been devoted to the brief period during which the Surrealists were card-carrying members of the PCF (for a few months in 1927, though the period is often incorrectly said to span the years between 1925 and 1933), with occasionally some brief mention of the Surrealist recruitment of Trotsky in 1938. The majority of these histories claim that Surrealist interest in politics faded after 1935, and that the movement itself faded into obscurity during the mid-1940s, eclipsed by the accomplishments of the postwar existentialist literati and the rise of Abstract Expressionism in New York. However, this is simply not the case: since 1919, the Surrealists have responded to the partitioning of lived experience with a double strategy: the first stage unmasked the depth of alienation inherent in modern society, and the second move reintegrated splintered life by a fusion of the conscious and unconscious mind. Consequently, the interior realities of the individual were given the same value as the collective forms of the social. One could dispel alienation by restlessly exposing, disassembling, and rebuilding morality, knowledge, aspiration and desire; Surrealist politics sought to maximize the disruptive forces unleashed by the quest to recover the lost potential of human experience, encouraging a heightened awareness of how the centuries of repressive ideology had whittled away at absolute human liberty. Armed with Rimbaud's 'derangement of the senses', Marx's 'emancipation of the senses', and Freud's dissection of bourgeois sensibility, the Surrealists launched a campaign of personal and political deconstruction that would restore free play between internal and external reality, subjectivity and objectivity, representation and perception, and dream and action.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 5
  22. Although it was ostensibly the particular character that Communism assumed under Stalin that accounted for these setbacks, there were many other factors that would have prevented any lasting association between the Surrealists and the militants. The Surrealist argument, for instance, that the common roots of both Surrealism and Marxism in the Hegelian dialectic would make them readily conciliable was highly dubious. On the philosophical plane, the Surrealists grossly distorted their original ideas in order to make them acceptable to the Marxists. Jules Monnerot writes of the unfortunate efforts they made to fit themselves into 'a sort of pseudo-Hegelian orthopedic apparatus'. It was these efforts which explain the misuse or excessive use of Marxist jargon in Surrealist works. They recited the rubrics of Marxism-Leninism like a catechism. They swallowed down the bitter pill of materialist determinism even though, as taught by contemporary communists, it involved a dualism of the kind which it was the avowed aim of Surrealism to surmount. The sincere will to believe was not sufficient to bring faith. Surrealist Marxism was condemned either to remain superficial or to distort Surrealism more profoundly. To quote Breton: 'Personally, the violence that I had to inflict on myself did not enable me to toe the line for very long'.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 32
  23. An embittered traveling textile salesman who had been imprisoned by the Jacobins and later spied on by the secret police apparatuses of Napoleon and the Bourbon Restoration, Fourier felt that he understood the ways that the Enlightenment's revolutionary ideals could be hijacked to serve tyrants and capitalists. The alienating tedium of work, the criminal waste of overproduction, and the ugly violence of destitution and class oppression seemed to multiply rather than diminish under this new world order. Fourier was disgusted by the degree to which people's lives could be ruined by an emerging class of professional profiteers and financial speculators and prophetically foretold of a coming age of inequity and misery built by the opaque mechanisms of a so-called 'free' market.

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 272
  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. As Dalí writes, paranoia's systematized confusion is thus 'corrosive to reality', insofar as it shows lived experience, the nominal relation of the self and the world, to be, in the worlds of a later Lacan, imaginary, a 'heap of broken images' fit together by the subject to form a concrete idea of reality. I call this Surrealist understanding of political as well as psychological reality 'noir' because it subjects individual action to a play of images, reflections and haunts, whether mobilized in service of an atmosphere of gothic claustrophobia or of hard-boiled ambivalence. Noir fiction and film dramatize the struggle to make sense of this play of images on the level of its characters, whose moral 'ambiguity' is a result of their own unconsciousness of the constructedness of reality. On the level of narrative, however, the stylistic universe of the story makes possible the analysis it denies its characters, becoming itself a kind of epistemological engine for investigating the structure of 'reality' that makes action possible.

    From chapter: Surrealism Noir by Jonathan Eburne
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 107
  27. As early as 1919 the surrealist group began to follow contemporary murder cases with a growing attention to the ways in which such crimes challenged accepted categories of public order, motive, and criminal taxonomy. Throughout the movement's history, items from the back pages of popular newspapers played a critical role in shaping the group's strategy for assessing how and why certain forms of violence tended to elude public scrutiny. The surrealists also unearthed a then-overlooked corpus of European literature and thought; they recognized in the works of figures such as the marquis de Sade, the comte de Lautréamont, Arthur Rimbaud, Alphonse Allais, Anne Radcliffe, Eugene Sue, Sigmund Freud, and the German Romantics an intellectual genealogy that presented crime as an event through which systems of law, science, morality, and speculative thought suddenly came into relief. The surrealists' interest in crime encompassed both the specificity of individual criminal cases and the broader register of political violence in modern life.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 2
  28. As early as 1923 Louis Aragon had begun to define, in anarchist and individualist terms, the ethical position toward violence that he would later maintain in "Red Front." He writes that "if an individual becomes conscious of the monstrous inequality, of the vanity of all speech in the face of the growing strength of a certain faction, I hold this individual to be authorized, moreover, to resort to terrorist means."

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 184
  29. As part of the movement's broader practices of experiment and play, however, these creative practices tended to nominate other, non-surrealist objects -- flea market finds, trinkets, newspaper articles, artifacts, totems, or so-called primitive art objects - for consideration as art. I argue that the surrealists studied crime in precisely this manner: without ignoring the cruelty of criminal violence itself, they understood that at the moment it becomes subject to representation, the historical event of crime begins to obey the characteristics of art as a proliferation of objects and artifacts that bear the paradoxical relation of art to the empirical world.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 10
  30. Balzac was the first to speak of the ruins of the bourgeoisie. But it was Surrealism that first opened our eyes to them...The realization of dream elements, in the course of waking up, is the paradigm of dialectical thinking. Thus, dialectical thinking is the organ of historical awakening. Every epoch, in fact, not only dreams the one to follow but, in dreaming, precipitates its awakening.

    Source: The Arcades Project, p. 13
  31. Bataille and Breton, during the Contre-Attaque phase, articulate a much under-appreciated aspect of a certain type of avant-garde thinking, that kind of non-technicist avant-garde thinking that is not bound to technology, namely they begin to theorize the failure of revolutions, for all revolutions past have been betrayed, they argue, by the individualization of power arising from the 'need' to satisfy the mass (for example, through the redistribution of the goods of the ruling elite) which, need being in principle insatiable, has in its train necessitated a centralizing authority to control the mass. This centralized authority is the narcissistic ideal transposed to the realm of political sovereignty. Not surprisingly, Breton and Bataille's conception of political community alludes, but only in certain points, to a conciliar system of governance -- the near equivalent in modern times to the classical Greek conception of the polis. That such a system of governance would seem impracticable is not the criticism that some might think, for its impossibility points to the absence of any genuine political, that is, public space within the industrial complex of modernity in the form of the nation-state and the monopoly of power (that is, violence) which is part-and-parcel of its theory of sovereignty. We are instead given a social sphere, the sphere pre-eminently of violence and policing in the maintenance of normative practice. The conception of action and public space articulated by Breton and Bataille holds a paradigmatic significance in making clearer the nature of the reality of political power in modernity, not least by addressing the unacknowledged negativity of prevailing political power as also in addressing the question of the failure of revolutions of power and sensibility.

    From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 326
  32. Be sure to check Benjamin's article on Surrealism: In the last pages of this essay, Benjamin argues the need for a new work in the place of the old Surrealism, “a poetic politics,” which extends the insight into the “distinction between metaphor and image” in Aragon’s latest book, Traité du style, “to discover in the space of political action the one hundred percent image space” http://www.academia.edu/5900660/Uncreative_Influence_Louis_Aragons_Paysan_de_Paris_and_Walter_Benjamins_Passagen-Werk

    Source: Random Thoughts, p.
  33. Because its representations are closest to a commonsense, consensus notion of reality, Dürrenmatt sees a realistic art as potentially dangerous...The dangerous illusions of realism have more specifically political implications. F.'s "total portrait...of our planet" would indeed be that kind of totalizing, totalitarian art that Lyotard deplores. In The Assignment, the political terrors of realism are seen at their simplest in North Africa when the police chief steals F.'s film of the execution of the Scandinavian prisoner and replaces it with an official "documentary," complete with shots of cheerful cadets at a police training academy, which might be equally convincing to a European audiences. Such documentaries seem to carry out the logical implications of nineteenth-century realism...Indeed film, while clearly an art form for F., often associates itself directly with the police and with surveillance in The Assignment.

    Source: Plotting Terror, p. 116-117
  34. 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
  35. Better than any political analyst, Dürrenmatt draws us close to understanding the emotional and intellectual costs of living in the late twentieth century, when even terrorism cannot be counted on to correspond to our conceptions of it. Otto von Lambert's insight that "Auschwitz...was not the work of terrorists but of state employees" is well supported in this novel. Terrorists serve the need to believe that there are centers of resistance against a well-established order, yet as the novel amply demonstrates, the very notion of a center is illusory. The new physical terror of computerized bombing and the old one of rape correspond to a condition in which contemporary human beings live and move, their identity fragmented by new philosophical conceptions of memory and the self but also by new technologies that violate their privacy or reduce their importance in traditional roles, such as that of the warrior. Surveillance and observation, intended to reduce the likelihood of nuclear war or successful terrorist attacks, are oppressive but desired.

    Source: Plotting Terror, p. 119
  36. Between Plato's distrust of the artist as a liar and magician, a man who can paint the bed he could not build, and Baudrillard's distrust of the hyperreal, "the generation by models of a real without origin or reality," there is a clear line of descent. Seen through Brita Nilsson's eyes, a Warholish Russian painting called Gorby II illustrates the political implications of simulacra. It is a "maximum statement about the dissolubility of the artist and the exaltation of the public figure, about how it is possible to fuse images, Mikhail Gorbachev's and Marilyn Monroe's, and to steal auras, Gold Marilyn's and Dead-White Andy's". What is the connection between the artist who painted Gorby IIand a political world driven by such images? Between that artist and Karen, who conflates Korean messiahs with Khomeini and Mao, or between the artist and a magazine editor in Chile who published caricatures of General Pinochet and then is sent to jail for "assassinating the image of the general"?

    Source: Plotting Terror, p. 29
  37. Breton based his argument in the Manifesto on a critique of the model of human agency that prevailed in bourgeois society. The basic flaw with this model was that it limited the scope of human behaviour to acts that conformed to an arbitrary model of rational action and which encouraged a thoroughly pragmatic approach to life. Yet rationality foreclosed the possibility of imaginative engagement with the full compass of human experience. Unlike the child, for whom the imagination 'knows no bounds', in the adult the imagination was 'allowed to be exercised only in strict accordance with the laws of an arbitrary utility'. In this way the imaginative liberty of childhood was subordinated to the arbitrary authority of culture.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 6
  38. Breton sets up a quasi-Hegelian dialectic, in which the 'thesis' of life is continually faced with the 'antithesis' of death, resulting in a holistic synthesis of the two that marks a continual life-cycle. But unlike Hegel's insistent rationalism, Breton sees this synthetic totality as emerging as much out of irrational forces as out of rational logic. In fact, it is his observation of the synthesis of the contradictory poles of the rational and irrational in Alvarez Bravo's photographs that attract Breton to them. That Breton hopes to harness the energies of this particular dialectic is evident in his choice of Alvarez Bravo's extremely disquieting image of a murdered striking worker as the title image to his essay. Rather than locating the worker's death purely in relation to the materialist circumstances of trade union politics, as Trotsky would have done, Breton (through Alvarez Bravo) places it evocatively within the much larger sweep of Mexico's long history of anti-imperialist struggle.

    From chapter: Robin Adele Greeley, For An Independent Revolutionary Art: Breton, Trotsky, and Cárdenas's Mexico
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 216
  39. Breton's emphasis on the spontaneous nature of the workers' strikes and insurrections was not idiosyncratic; he shared this with Bataille, and for similar reasons. For both Bataille and Breton, the success or failure of the Front Populaire was seen to depend on the extent to which it could remain outside the institutional practice of politics. Underlying this emphasis on a 'totally unforeseen system of struggle' on the part of the workers is the conviction held deeply by Breton and Bataille that the stage of capitalism reached in the form of bourgeois parliamentary democracy necessitated a new conception of political action. In the founding document of Contre-Attaque:

    "We affirm that the current regime must be attacked with a renovated tactic. The traditional tactic of revolutionary movements has never been valid save when applied to the liquidation of autocracies. Applied to the struggle against democratic regimes, it has twice led the workers' movement to disaster. Our essential, urgent task, is the constitution of a doctrine resulting from immediate experiences."

    From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 320
  40. Breton's warning about maintaining the distinctions between 'the effort of liberation' and 'the struggle for liberty' in postwar Europe alludes to [Fourier]. Breton cautions that 'some are preparing to take advantage of this confusion to the detriment of liberty', just as Fourier had warned of those bourgeois-liberals who thought that progressive politics meant only that one had the right to prevent abject poverty by toiling in a coal mine or textile mill and, if one were male and paid enough taxes, voting every few years. In 'Ajours', the short collection of generally anti-authoritarian essays that he had tacked on the end of the 1947 reissue of Arcane 17, Breton's saw a similar set of constraints that recently liberated people had decided to put on themselves and one another, and was discouraged by those who would consciously choose not to be free by enslaving themselves to noxious resurgent ideals like patriotism and militarism...Freedom from fascism was not enough, 'we must "remake human understanding"'. It was imperative that 'human life be re-impassioned, made valuable again'...

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 285
  41. 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
  42. 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
  43. Breton...writes: "The simplest Surrealist act consists of dashing down into the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd. Anyone who, at least once in his life, has not dreamed of thus putting an end to the petty system of debasement and cretinization in effect has a well-defined place in that crowd, with his belly at barrel level." Interpretations of these lines from the Second Manifesto have fueled attacks against surrealism in general, most notably Jean-Paul Sartre's charge that the movement, like Breton's statement, represented a feeble attempt to organize "revolution" around the inner dictates of the individual -- a vulgar and politically bankrupt fusion of Leninist and Freudian rhetoric. Yet Breton is not invoking the "inner dictates of the individual," nor is he simply mobilizing this act of terror as a rhetorical flourish. He means it literally, but stresses that "my intention is not to recommend it above every other because it is simple, and to try and pick a quarrel with me on this point is tantamount to asking, in bourgeois fashion, any nonconformist why he doesn't commit suicide, or any revolutionary why he doesn't pack up and go live in the USSR." Surrealism's struggle lay in reconciling its radical break from the "ideology of continuity" with its awareness that even radicalism tends toward the continuous and the familiar whenever it expresses itself in forms, such as gunshots, that are merely extensions of preexisting violence...

    The group's analyses and debates about the status of violence in the modern world extended to the very question of using revolutionary violence as a political strategy. To what extent could political violence ever be distinguished from crime? How did anti colonial violence differ from terrorism, from ethnic cleansing, or from colonial wars of invasion? Such questions, central to the activities of the surrealist group throughout the movement's history, show the surrealists' dedication to a public intellectualism that confronted the most fundamental principles of revolution and avant-gardism.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 7
  44. But if we now return to the difficulties with which we have seen surrealism tussle, we notice that these operations, which I have sought to define in relation to the knowledge of primitive religious life that could be called scientific, have not been free of some extremely difficult problems. By this I mean the relation between surrealism and politics. Surrealism, if one accepts the definition I have given of it, is the most complete negation of material interest. It is impossible to go any further...The moment one has recognized the impossibility of directly attaining material interest and the necessity of passing through the form that material interest has taken in the present conditions, one notices that surrealism is a very much weaker negation of this personal interest than Communism.

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 77
  45. But the quality of a writer's political engagements, [J.M. Coetzee, author of The Master of Petersburg] told an interviewer, should not be measured in the simple way Gordimer suggests [i.e., how direct it is]; a naive realism only reproduces the injustice it describes, licking wounds rather than offering a critical alternative to the mind-set that produced injustice in the first place. In place of such realism, Coetzee offers a more sophisticated, ironic narrative, one capable of "demythologizing history" (Attwell 15). Such narratives, he says, are not "supplementary" to history; that is, they cannot be checked against it, as a teacher might check a child's homework against the answer book; rather, they are a rival, sometimes even an enemy, discourse. Thus the point of an ironic narrative is not so much that it substitutes a more accurate version of history and politics for the received one as that it lays bare the unacknowledged assumptions that shape both stories.

    Source: Plotting Terror, p. 96
  46. But what is truly radical in Theory of the Four Movements and Incoherent Industry is precisely that they are both wonderfully weird reads. It is their outrageously and unabashedly unfeasible criticism of capitalism, repressive family values and Western civilization -- not their prescriptive acumen -- that make these texts so revolutionary. Practical policies like Five Year Plans, Monnet Plans, and Marshall Plans would never correct the most damaged and miserable features of human existence; that could only be addressed by redefining the very terms of the problem, by opening new avenues of alternatives, by contemplating the unthinkable and doing the unattainable. 'Poets and artists in particular would be inexcusable if they tried to guard against "utopias"' solely on the basis of their supposed viability, Breton told Patri in the 1948 interview. Imagining the unimaginable is the responsibility of all creative people, often requiring them 'to draw, at least initially, from the vague realm where utopia reigns'. This may be escapism, but as one underground newspaper [note: Harbinger no.4, November 2001] of late has explained, those who most forcefully discourage escape often turn out to be prison wardens of one sort or another.

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 276-277
  47. But why is it that lo real maravilloso becomes such an important category in the consciousness of literary schools from the 1940s onward after 400 years of myth making and magic in Latin American culture? This awakened sensitivity to the magical quality of reality and to the role of myth in history is perhaps an indication of what Ernst Bloch called "non synchronous contradictions" nd is ready-made soil for the sprouting of "dialectical images," in the terminology of Walter Benjamin, for whom (and I quote from Susan Buck-Morss's essay on his notes for his Passagenwerk)

    "the dreaming collective of the recent past appeared as a sleeping giant ready to be awakened by the present generation, and the mythic power of both [the recent and the present generations'] dream states were affirmed, the world re-enchanted, but only in order to break out of history's mythic spell, in fact by reappropriating the power bestowed on the objects of mass culture as utopian dream symbols."

    Source: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man, p. 166
  48. But, above all, terrorism came into its own in mass literature. It had figured in popular novels from time to time even before 1970, but after that date it became a veritable avalanche. many hundreds of such books were written on every level of sophistication, from the quasi-highbrow psychology of a Le Carré to the primitive actions of the pulp novel. Indeed, so much was written about so little that in the early 1980s a certain decline could be observed. All the dramatic possibilities had been exhausted. The number of basic situations was limited; they could be counted, broadly speaking, on the fingers o two hands. most popular was the nuclear theme: a group of terrorists -- Arab, Israeli or other -- searching for the ultimate weapon, by theft (James Rowe) or frontal attack on a nuclear arsenal, or by abducting a scientist or a group of scientists who could build a weapon of this sort (Nicholas Freeling). Alternatively, the terrorists already have the weapon (twenty-four of them in Lawrence Delaney's case), and they are about to detonate it in London (G. Household, Anthony Trew) or in New York (Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, Ian Todd). Fortunately, it is only a question of time before they are caught, or until one of them feels some last-minute pangs of conscience...Frequently, the political intentions of the terrorists are sweeping but obscure, and in at least one case they want to kill all the world's leading statesmen (Ludlum's The Matarese Circle), but are prevented by the CIA and KGB who, for once, co-operate.

    Source: The Age of Terrorism, p. 199
  49. 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
  50. 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
  51. Claudel also sized up the Dada and Surrealist movements with a haughty judicial eye, pronouncing that they had nothing to offer European civilization other than 'pederasty'. Even before the interview, Claudel represented everything the Surrealists despised...so his comments provided the Surrealists with the chance to denounce him as a dangerous fraud. The Surrealists' retort stated categorically that patriotism and the purchase of 'large quantities of lard' for the 'upkeep of a nation of pigs and dogs' was incompatible with poetry; in fact, 'treason and all that can undermine the security of State' was far more poetic than anything that Claudel could produce. As for Claudel's homophobic comments regarding Surrealism, the authors of the open letter simply said that, to the mind of a 'pedant and a swine' who proudly supported the 'infamous sanctimoniousness' of a Western civilization, the comparison of Surrealism to pederasty was apt because of the swirling haze of 'confusion it introduces into the minds of those who do not take part in it'. The Surrealists decided to distribute the tract at the banquet that night, leaving a copy under each place setting to greet the guests when they arrived.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 2
  52. Conrad's way of dealing with the terror of the rubber boom in the Congo was Heart of Darkness. There were three realities there, comments Frederick Karl: King Leopold's, made out of intricate disguises and deceptions; Casement's studied realism; and Conrad's, which, to quote Karl, "fell midway between way between the other two, as he attempted to penetrate the veil and yet was anxious to retain its hallucinatory quality." [ Frederick R. Karl, Joseph Conrad: The Three Lives (New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1979), 286]

    This formularization is sharp and important: to penetrate the veil while retaining its hallucinatory quality...The political and artistic problem is to engage with that, to maintain that hallucinatory quality while effectively turning it against itself. That would be the true catharsis, the great counterdiscourse whose poetics we must ponder in the political terrain now urgently exposed today; the form wherein all that appeals and seduces in the iconography and sensuality of the underworld becomes its own force for self-subversion. Foucault's concept of discourse eludes this aspiration and concept of dialectically engaged subversion. But it is with this poetics that we must develop the cultural politics appropriate to our times.

    Source: Culture of Terror/Space of Death, p. 471-472
  53. 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
  54. Crevel's "scandalous" tales [i.e., his explicit mediumistic outpourings] were suppressed, I argue, because they confronted the proto-surrealists with their own reluctance to address the ethical implications of their newly developed practices...Even after his reconciliation with the surrealists in late 1924, Crevel would remain critical of "automatism" and automatic writing, as well as, more tacitly, the movement's Desnosian predilection [i.e., quasi-mystical posing]. For Crevel this was no jealous retribution but a serious accusation that revealed his commitment to understanding avant-garde experimentation as an extension of lived experience, of politics, and of intellectual practice.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 62,63
  55. Crevel, as we have seen, was in fact deeply suspicious the avant-garde's tendency to aestheticize the explosiveness of historical acts of violence. As he argues in his pointedly titled essay "Which Way?," published in a 1923-24 issue of The Little Review, "many a person has manufactured a bomb to destroy detestable monuments and has then been content simply to place his bomb on the mantelpiece, make a thousand copies of it which he puts on sale like the Venus de Milo in cheap plaster." Revel's complaint invokes the bomb-throwing turn-of-the-century anarchists such as Ravachol, Emile Henry, and the Bonnot gang, whose notoriety and terrorist tactics fascinated many of the early surrealists. Such anarchist attacks provided spectacles of revolt, but beyond their initial impact, there wasn't much to prevent them from becoming little more than spectacles in the end, aestheticized in spite of their violence. Yet whereas Crevel's essay advocates transforming such plaster casts back into bombs, it does not do so to embrace their return to deadly force...For Crevel, as would become the case for the surrealists more broadly, aesthetic relations [a substitute for actual violence] were a conduit for ethical relations.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 75
  56. Dürrenmatt shares...a wish to expose the myths and explore the realities of terrorism. An experimental fiction, The Assignment points to the complex reality that lies behind the too-familiar story and suggests as well the actual experience of human beings caught up in terrorist activities. Fragmentation of identity in the novel's unstable world leads to a longing for order that asserts itself in totalitarian politics, fundamentalist religion, and documentary realism, all disciplines, in Foucault's sense, that depend on observation. Suggesting the difficulty of distinguishing between the victims and practitioners of terror, Dürrenmatt undermines the usual story of sinister Islamic terrorists...His manipulations of the myth present terror both as an understandable private response to the conditions of late-twentieth-century life and as a public practice that intensifies and conditions panic.

    Source: Plotting Terror, p. 110
  57. 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
  58. 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
  59. Dirty, dark, loud and hysteric, the 1938 Exposition's substitution of interference and disorientation for the traditional orderliness of the exhibition space touched on more than simply aesthetic issues. Without banners, slogans or explicit political declarations, the Surrealists' idiosyncratic installation defined a form of ideological critique that concentrated on the disruptive potential of process, ephemerality, instability and visual frustration against the period's exhibitionary commonplace of stasis, solidity, sanity and visual primacy. However, the failure of scholars to see the prewar show as anything more than an aesthetic or anti-aesthetic event stems at least in part from a failure to adequately treat the spatial and performative dimensions of Surrealism, even as these dimensions arguably fostered the movement's most provocative and ideologically charged work of the period. As the movement's 1938 staging recast the bourgeois eighteenth-century interior of the Parisian gallery in which it was housed, it also pointed to what museological spaces of the day hid: that walls were not neutral, that display strategies were not objective, and that careful taxonomies and rooms enfilade held up the fragile foundations of national chauvinism, authoritative rule and art history alike.

    From chapter: Elena Filipovic, Surrealism in 1938: The Exhibition at War
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 181
  60. During a conversation published in the early spring of 1948, the interviewer, Aimé Patri, spurred Breton to respond to some of these charges. 'Since your return from the United States, a number of people have been claiming that Surrealism is dead,', Patri proposed. 'Even some of your intimates have reproached you for abandoning the old Surrealist revolutionary spirit'. Of particular confusion in this regard was the Surrealist insistence upon the 'poetic and historical function' of mythic and utopian thinking, investigations that seemed to 'entail an escape towards the past or outside of time' and an obvious affront to the doctrine of historical materialism that the French Stalinists proclaimed that they were exercising. Breton responded by saying that his exposure to the daily functions of myth among the Hopi and the Haitians convinced him that the 'latent' content of waking life could be mobilized s a means of cultural resistance under adverse political and economic conditions.

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 268
  61. 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
  62. First, and most obviously, the Surrealists claimed to watch over the ideals represented by the Communist revolution. Secondly, and no less important, the Communist revolution was required to act as a guarantor of the real effectiveness of Surrealism. It is for this latter reason that the political history of Surrealism leaves the impression that the Surrealists were using Communism for their own ends. Communism was their shield against absorption by the Paris literary and artistic world, against a decline into dilettantism and bohemia.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 34
  63. For all but the immediate participants and witnesses, the experience of any such event is overwhelmingly secondhand. Sensationalized by the press, gawked at by passers-by, whispered about i hushed and horrified tones, or cited as an example for public outrage, safety, or moral benefit, murder is already subject to representation and details of "design...grouping, light and shade, poetry, sentiment." Maria Tatar has proposed that contemporary avant-garde depictions of sexual murder in Weimar Germany compensated for this distance or alienation between the spectator and the event through exploitative and violent relations of fantasy: identification, voyeurism, catharsis, and the experience of sublimity. I contend, however, that surrealist and porto-surrealist writings like Peret's, i spite of their callous rhetoric and ironic distance, derive their "aesthetic" approach from an ethical commitment to dislodging judgment -- moral and aesthetic alike -- from the formalism of national myths and institutions...In doing so...they offer the beginnings of a surrealist intellectual program, a critical aesthetics with its own inherent imperative for judgment.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 56-57
  64. 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
  65. For really two distinct, yet oddly complementary, features of contemporary life worked against The Satanic Verses: the resurgence of religious fundamentalism and the explosion of the electronic media. On the one hand, we note the extreme literalism of Rushdie's opponents, their unwillingness to accept "the fictionality of fiction" (Rushdie, IH 393). The "death of the author," in the West a philosophical proposition, became in Iranian hands a large cash incentive, and a promise of paradise, for the assassination of a Booker Prize winner. Yet in a sense the literalism of the British Muslims who burned the book in the streets of Bradford was a tribute to the printed page that is rare indeed in the West; they did not regard the novel as an inconsequential imaginative exercise but as a powerful expression of ideas deeply engaged with reality.

    On the other hand, the familiar enemy of the printed text, the electronic media, arouses Baudrillardian anxieties. As Daniel Pipes points out, the 14 February fatwa has all the marks of a media event; had the ayatollah simply wanted Rushdie dead he could have dispatched a hit squad months earlier, when British Muslims began their protests. "Broadcasting his intentions allowed Rushdie to take cover, so Khomeini's real goal must...have been...something quite different". An apocalyptic vision of all solid ground disappearing, to be replaced by a vertiginous mass of images, attaches itself to the phenomenon of the writer who disappears into the spy fiction world of safe houses and Secret Service protection. Surely the text of The Satanic Verses also seems to disappear, in spite of phenomenal sales, into televised images created by angry men who pride themselves on not having read it. Surely, too, the claims of political fiction to act on the world seem overwhelmed by the world's evident ability, especially when kept instantly up-to-date by satellite, to act on novel and novelist.

    Source: Plotting Terror, p. 24
  66. Fourierian refusal can be found woven throughout Rupture inaugurale, a pamphlet put out a month after the declaration on Vietnam that spelled out the Surrealists' unwillingness to adhere unfalteringly to any formal political formula, no matter how apparently desirable to them...Surrealists continued to tout Fourierism as an alternative to the totalitarian excesses of Stalinism throughout the 1950s; in the mid-1960s, while many of their contemporaries in Paris were dabbling with fashionably trendy forms of Maoism, Surrealists were agitating for an incredulous but unstoppable dialectical combination of Trotsky and Fourier: 'Trotsky, Fourier -- the Invincible and the Unlimited, whose fusion clarifies in us the nature and the range of our revolutionary hope'.

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 292
  67. From ancient times the witches had danced in the cavern through wars and persecutions; many a time when I was pursued I would hide with the witches, and was always received with courtesy and kindness. As you are no doubt aware, my mission through the ages has been to carry uncensored news to the people, without consideration of either rank or status. This has made me unpopular with the authorities all over this planet. My object is to help human beings to realize their state of slavery and exploitation by power-seeking beings.

    Source: The Hearing Trumpet, p. 145
  68. From examples that Benjamin presents of this graphicness in action in the "dialectical image," as in his "One Way Street," we can see that such images are created by the author but are also already formed, or half-formed, so to speak, latent in the world of the popular imagination, awaiting the fine touch of the dialectical imagician's wand -- not unlike Victor Turner's description of the central African herbalist and curer whose adze, in chopping bark off the chosen tree, arouses the slumbering power of material already there awaiting the copula of the magician's touch..

    This notion of the activist acting on something ready to be activated is well conveyed where Benjamin writes that "opinions are to the vast apparatus of social existence what oil is to machines: one does not go up to a turbine and pour oil over it; one applies a little to hidden spindles and joints that one has to know."

    But how does one know?

    Source: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man, p. 370
  69. From Timerman's chronicle and texts like Miguel Angel Asturias's El señor presidente it is abundantly clear that cultures of terror are based on and nourished by silence and myth in which the fanatical stress on the mysterious side of the mysterious flourishes by means of rumor and fantasy woven in a dense web of magical realism. It is also clear that the victimizer needs the victim for the purpose of making truth, objectifying the victimizer's fantasies in the discourse of the other. To be sure, the torturer's desire is also prosaic: to acquire information, to act in concert with large-scale economic strategies elaborated by the masters and exigencies of production. Yet equally if not more important is the need to control massive populations through the cultural elaboration of fear.

    Source: Culture of Terror/Space of Death, p. 469
  70. Globalization is the automatic realization of the world, the automatic writing of the world.

    Source: Paroxysm, p. 28
  71. 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
  72. I believe that the complex of attraction and repulsion in the violence [of torture] displayed is so well defended against the frontal attack of reason and sympathy that, perchance, a "poetic" or imagefull response is in order -- the glancing blow, with the left hand, the hand of improvisation, as Walter Benjamin would say. We could just as well inquire, What do these images want? [the photographs from Abu Ghraib]

    Source: Zoology, Magic, and Surrealism in the War on Terror, p. S101
  73. 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
  74. I maintain that this noir period enables rather than performs the group's political work. Indeed, it provides the basis for a new 'morality of revolt' which advocates a massive, collective restructuration of society upon diverse fronts -- from mental institutions to literature to family structure to political parties -- instead of the merely destructive violence of Aragon's 'Red Front'.

    From chapter: Surrealism Noir by Jonathan Eburne
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 110
  75. I swung round in amazement. Before me, almost blocking out the night, was an enormous policeman. He looked a policeman from his great size but I could see the dim sign of his buttons suspended straight before my face, tracing out the curvature of his great chest. His face was completely hidden in the dark and nothing was clear to me except his overbearing policemanship, his massive rearing of wide strengthy flesh, his domination and his unimpeachable reality. He dwelt upon my mind so strongly that I felt many times more submissive than afraid.

    Source: The Third Policeman, p. 156
  76. I take Sun Tzu's wise words regarding war on pretty much the same level as a fortune cookie, but when it comes to the war on terror, then Sun Tzu here catches my breath. For it seems that the art of deception in this particular war is organic and built in to what is by necessity a war of error, a deliberate and compulsive lying, tied up with the fact that in the name of defending the people, which is to say democracy, the war is now against the people. We the public have become the enemy, and that is how I read Sun Tau on the art of war today.

    Yet would it were that simple because the power of the art of deceit does not -- I repeat not -- necessarily weaken with exposure. Sometimes the very opposite occurs; sometimes deceit seems to thrive on exposure, as in the conjuring tricks of shamanism and in the conjuring now exercised on a global scale by the world's only superpower. This global conjuring rests on a sea change in the way truth and language work in what Carl Schmitt called "the exception," meaning the state of emergency. The curious thing is despite the tremendous concentration of power such a state of emergency implies, which should allow the leaders to tell the truth without fear of the consequences, the opposite is more likely to occur.

    Source: Zoology, Magic, and Surrealism in the War on Terror, p. S100
  77. If mere words, the language of public discourse, are debased, the writer may well wish to turn to more intuitive models of communication, the discourse of private symbolism and even madness.

    Source: Plotting Terror, p. 81
  78. If we cease to remain awake (and I use this term in the strongest sense of the word) to all poetic reality, if at a given moment we abandon this effort, however painful it might be, and pass over to protests which we know in advance are perfectly vain, then we immediately pass from the state of men who want to deny themselves and can change themselves through poetry, to that of those who live in the cycle of personal interest. I believe one cannot insist too strongly on the necessity of binding consciousness to depersonalization. It seems to me that surrealism has gone a long way in this direction, but the way remains open, and it is necessary for us to penetrate further into it.

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 80
  79. Immediately after the pistol shots, the Zany's yells and the flight of Vasquez and his friend, the streets ran one after the other, all scantily clad in moonlight, and not knowing what had happened, while the trees in the square twisted their fingers together in despair because they could not announce the event either by means of the wind or the telephone wires. The streets arrived at the crossroads and asked one another where the crime had taken place, and then some hurried to the centre of the town and others to the outskirts, as if disorientated.

    Source: El Senor Presidente, p. 51
  80. In 1946 the pamphlet Liberté est un mot vietnamien [Liberty Is a Vietnamese Word] protested against French repression in Indochina. Inaugural Break (1947) was a denunciation of Stalinism...however, [immediately] they found themselves obliged go hail the Hungarian uprising in Hongrie, soleil levant [Hungary: The Sun Rises].

    In 1960 Surrealists were the initiators of the "Declaration on the Right of Conscientious Objection in the Algerian War" -- the so-called "Declaration of the 121". Eight years later, whatever residue still went by the name "Surrealist" was singing the praises of Cuba!

    Along the way the Surrealists worked with the anarchists of Le Libertaire, and for a time supported Garry Davis's Citizens of the World movement.

    Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 30
  81. In his paper, "Fearing Fictions," Kendall Walton proposes the notion of "quasi-fear" for that fright experienced when contemplating on a movie or TV screen agents (such as a terrible green slime or the creature from the Black Lagoon) that the viewer knows for certain are only fictional. Then there is the fear of a person afraid of a nonexistent ghost or burglar who are nonetheless "real" since the person believes that they are present. Fear of terrorism is never solely fictional, as in the first case, but is rather of the second type. Still, faced with the extraordinary fact that during one single month 10 million Americans decided to stay at home rather than take an airplane reportedly because of a terrorist threat issued several thousands miles away by a beleaguered dictator, one questions whether they were dissuaded by real feelings of terror or were engaging in some sort of make-believe in which they acted "as if" the threats posed real danger to their lives...

    Terrorism discourse is characterized by the confusion of sign and context provoked by the deadly atrocity of apparently random acts, the impossibility of discriminating reality from make-believe, and text from reader. These strange processes and their mix make terrorism a queer phenomenon. Emptying the sign of its deadly messages seem to be, following Barthes's advice, the best antidote to the experience of terror. And nothing appears to be more damaging to the ghosts and myths of terrorism (for audience and actors alike) than fictionalizing them further to the point that fear dissolves into "as-if" terror.

    The discourse's victory, then, derives from imposing a literal frame of "this is real war," "this is global threat," "this is total terror." Its defeat derives from writing "this is an as-if war," "this is an as-if global threat," "this is make-believe total terror."

    Source: Terror and Taboo, p. 28-29
  82. In its abandonment of protest fiction's epistemological and ethical certainty, Himes's writing for the Série Noire reveals a comic affectation consistent with the surrealist notion of l'humour noir, itself a critical intervention into the field of political writing that was hostile to literary and political naturalism. Indeed what Himes's crime writing shares with surrealist thinking of the post-World War II period is its affected indifference to truth and justice, its sympathy with the shared spirit of writers who expunge the expected characteristics of aesthetic or moral value. This helps to explain what Himes meant when he claimed that although he had "no literary relationship with what is called the Surrealist school," and that he "didn't become acquainted with that term until the fifties," nevertheless "it just so happens that in the lives of black people, there are so many absurd situations, made that way by racism, that black life could sometimes be described as surrealistic. The best expression of surrealism by black people, themselves, is probably achieved by blues musicians."

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 247
  83. In Latin America it has been, by and large, the political function of the Church to harness these images and collective dreams to reactionary social purposes. It is here where Carpentier's sensitivity to myth as the experience of history in the configuration of a changing present is so appropriate and necessary to the development of revolutionary culture and literature. This development stands in relation to the magical realism of popular culture as the only counter-hegemonic force capable of confronting the reactionary usage to which the Church puts that same magical realism in order to mystify it. Yet those who attempt to use such forces run the risk of being used by them. When Carpentier lists reasons why "America is far from having exhausted its wealth of mythologies," we must ask how it is possible to evade their spell...

    Source: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man, p. 167
  84. In order to constitute itself it was necessary for rationalism to lose the profundity of modes of thought that shackled it. But if we now seek what is possible before us -- all that is possible, whether or not we might have wanted to, we who no longer have any need to construct rational thought, which is effortlessly arranged for us -- we are again able to recognize the profound value of these lost modes of thought.

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 64
  85. In refusing the mantle of humanism, surrealism opened itself to the discomfiting possibility that its work would be overshadowed by the allure of terrorist action or of political expediency. Yet as the group's long-standing fascination with crime reveals, the movement was dedicated less to destroying al laws than to thwarting the tendency for experimental thought to become law. The surrealist experiment, then, might be understood as the attempt to mobilize art to "suppress the exploitation of man by man" by causing an insurrection within thought. Herein lies surrealism's essential contribution to twentieth-century thought: not, as Jean Clair claimed, in "preparing the mind" for the atrocities of terrorism and the Holocaust, but in preparing the mind to defend itself against the forms of ideological closure that ensure the continuation of such atrocities.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 276
  86. In such fashion there is blurring of the line between fact and fiction in ostensibly objective journalistic reporting, particularly since it is the very nature of covert operations and intergovernmental confidentiality to place a premium more upon "deniability" -- a fancy expression for mendacity -- than upon veracity. Hence the novel's plot of intrigue and the journalist's political discourse collapse into the monolithic frame that we have labeled contemporary terrorism discourse.

    This blurring of genres is further exacerbated by the propensity of some journalists and counterterrorism specialists to author terrorism novels (e.g., Robert Moss, Arnaud de Borchgrave, William Buckley Jr., Brian Crozier). Thus, at terrorism conferences it is not uncommon for the experts to discuss their next fiction project!

    Source: Terror and Taboo, p. 48
  87. In such passages in Breton, photography intervenes in a very strange way. It makes the streets, gates, squares of the city into illustrations of a trashy novel, draws off the banal obviousness of this ancient architecture to inject it with the most pristine intensity toward the events described, to which, as in old chambermaids' books, word-for-word quotations with page numbers refer. And all the parts of Paris that appear here are places where what is between these people turns like a revolving door.

    Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 51
  88. In the end, the Surrealists' move toward a rethinking of the exhibition space in 1938 caused little more than temporary local derangement. Misunderstood in its day, Surrealism's dirt was easy to sweep up, the blackened gallery walls quickly repainted white. A cartoon from the period epitomizes the problem: the exhibition's public recognized the disorder as nothing more than impotence; for them, the gallery and everything it represented remained unscathed by the Surrealist intervention. But, perhaps this misunderstanding stemmed from a deeper and more problematic relationship of artistic production and politics. For visitors who were disappointed that the Surrealists had not filled the exhibition with anti-fascist banners or explicit signs of their ideological engagement had good reason to lament: hysteric and ridiculously prankish, the Surrealist exhibition did leave a certain notion of politics behind. And, perhaps therein lies the 1938 Exposition's ultimate force: its refusal of the traditional forms of organized politics...[I]t was not about putting the gallery's white walls in the 'service of the revolution' -- it was a matter of insisting on a consciousness of an exhibition's walls and of the body as impacted by them. All the better to point -- if only temporarily, if only impotently --- to the imbrication of these walls and these bodies in the politics of power.

    From chapter: Elena Filipovic, Surrealism in 1938: The Exhibition at War
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 202-203
  89. In their perverse and anarchistic isolation of practical reason from aesthetic judgment, Peret and De Quincey each suggest that morality's very promise of sustaining a social order was itself a fantasy; morality -- what Kant called "practical reason" -- was instead a set of conventions that eclipsed the degree to which this social order was already collapsed, or, more precisely, to which the social order reproduced its own collapse as the necessary condition for its existence. For Peret and De Quincey alike, this phenomenon became especially visible in the contemporary rise in "great" murders of an exceptionally unmotivated, culturally symptomatic nature.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 56
  90. 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
  91. Instead of a Marxist view opposing a non-Marxist account as [historian Alan] Rose argues, what we have are two different modes of conceptualizing Marxism itself. On the one hand, Trotsky focused almost exclusively on the purportedly objective problem of economic exploitation, giving little thought to (among other things) exactly how culture or individual agency might actively be incorporated into Marxist theory. Breton and Surrealism, on the other hand, formed part of a Western Marxist tradition that saw true revolution as occurring on the level of culture as much as any other.

    From chapter: Robin Adele Greeley, For An Independent Revolutionary Art: Breton, Trotsky, and Cárdenas's Mexico
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 222-223
  92. It has long been realized that the Surrealists' adherence to the PCF was less a mark of profound commitment to anti-capitalism as understood by traditional Communists than a mark of their profound ethical refusal of the world of the bourgeoisie, of the modern world as unremittingly bourgeois. To this extent , their anti-capitalism was contingent upon the perception that capitalism was the economic expression of the values of the bourgeois modern world, and parliamentary democracy its institutionalized political embodiment. Hence, Théodore Fraenkel, in the fascinating notes of a conversation with Léon Pierre-Quint in 1936, in the midst of the Front Populaire phenomenon, could dismiss the prevailing political options from a Surrealist point of view:

    "We are living on completely outdated political ideas. The reactionaries depend on the Monarchists of the 17th century -- and Maurras has brought no innovation -- the liberals on the ideas of the 19th century: St. Simon etc. -- the Socialists: Proudhon, 1848, L. Blanc -- the Communists on Marx, end of 19th century. But after 1918, the 20th century really started. The war made the breach -- which is an abyss. Every old ideology is outdated."

    For this reason Fraenkel, as recorded by Pierre-Quint, considered what a Surrealist group in politics might have been:

    "For me, the autonomous group which needs to be created, would have for its essential aim less the overturning of capitalism -- thus at lest it would be Marxist -- 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."

    From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 328-329
  93. It is because they both hide and stand out and it is because they both attract and repulse that Gray Fox and his friends are deployed. More than this, they attract because they repulse just as they stand out because they are secret. In this sense they represent an advance on the fascination of the abomination.

    Source: Zoology, Magic, and Surrealism in the War on Terror, p. S112
  94. 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
  95. It may be that the term 'politics' when applied to Surrealism is a misnomer. The Surrealists seldom advanced beyond the stage of political agitation, since they rejected or were incapable of the sustained application which commitment demanded...Time and again they took up a political cause with fire and enthusiasm, pursued it for a while and then let it drop, leaving to others the spadework which could alone lead to any real achievement...Perseverance in any single line of political action would ultimately have been contrary to the very spirit of Surrealism. In the simplest terms: action, which was relative and contingent, was bound to betray the Surreal, which was absolute. Prolonged action belittled or infringed the global nature of Surrealist desires.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 35
  96. 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
  97. 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
  98. Lenin...rejected the possibility of any kind of liberation within the terms of the existing substructure since such a hypothesis would make its overthrow less urgent. Breton claimed, on the contrary, that greater awareness of the unused and stifled potentialities of man would make the demand for revolution still more urgent. Psychological awareness would fortify social awareness. Changing the picture which men had of the laws governing the world would make still more necessary the transformation of the substructure. The existing social order, far from being an insuperable barrier beyond which, if it was finally broken down, lay a land where all man's problems would be solved, was for the Surrealists no more than a fragile screen standing between man and the real problems which he had yet to face.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 33
  99. 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
  100. 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
  101. Lyotard's theory goes some way toward explaining the significance of the paired themes of terrorism and literary realism in The Assignment. The holes in Dürrenmatt's plot, the unanswered questions about unnamed characters, the fragmentary glimpses of landscapes, interiors, motives, and political contexts are as so many refusals of "the transparent and communicable." The effect is perhaps not so anti-mimetic as it might seem; refusing transcendent illusions, the novelist suggests an elusive dimension of personality or experience that withers under the harsh floodlights of documentary realism.

    Source: Plotting Terror, p. 115
  102. May the recent events have taught France and the world that liberty can only subsist in a dynamic state, that it becomes denatured and negates itself at the moment when one makes of it a museum piece...Humanity's aspirations for liberty must always be given the power to recreate themselves endlessly; that's why it must be thought of not as a state but as a living force bringing about continual progress...Liberty is not, like liberation, a struggle against sickness, it is health.

    Source: Arcanum 17, p. 126,128
  103. Muller's sense of the "world of reality" to be discredited differed enormously from Dali's: for Muller, what was currently under siege was the "man-made" fabric of European social relations rent apart by fascism, its humanist claims demolished by Hitler's genocidal politics of hatred. The surrealists, though, implicated reality as the set of "learned machinations" that resulted in the West's complicity, conscious or unconscious, with the rise and militarization of fascism.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 240
  104. Neither funny nor especially comic in the generic sense, black humor (l'humour noir) describes the quality of indifference with which certain writers portray acts of injustice, destruction, and evil in their works. this indifference, Breton suggests, is social as well as aesthetic or analytical; it yields a means of perception undistorted by morality or law, and it thus offers, too, a form of intellectual commerce Breton describes as "the mysterious exchange of humorous pleasure between individuals." This pleasure was not necessarily joyful. Indeed in both its prewar and postwar historical contexts, black humor paraded a degree of stylistically and moral recklessness -- a jouissance -- at odds with an era of serious political commitment; yet this exchange of humorous pleasure paradoxically gave voice to unconscious political desires, including forms of anger and unrest otherwise inadmissible to intellectual discourse.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 244
  105. Nietzsche had already seen that the rigors of asceticism and holiness have ceased to be attractive for our age, and that only revolution and war offer the mind comparably exhilarating experiences. In the same way Roger Caillois...has no hesitation in regarding war as the counterpart in modern societies of the paroxysm of festival: war, the time of 'excess', 'violence', 'outrage'. War is the 'unique moment of concentration and intense absorption in the group of everything that ordinarily tends to maintain a certain area of independence.' Like the festival, war gives rise to 'monstrous and formless explosions that serve to break up the monotony of normal existence'.

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 121
  106. No longer an autonomous political reactionary [i.e., in the famous Berton-with-surrealists collage], Berton has been made into an object to which others react. As I have suggested, this transformation is critical to surrealist praxis more broadly: such an objectified, aestheticized figure becomes a spur for the derangement of systematic thought rather than a model for imitation. This, I propose, is how it became possible for Germaine Berton to serve as both an object and an influence for the surrealist group.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 93
  107. 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
  108. Note it was Andre Breton who coined the term "the great refusal" not Marcuse, so that's another good link between surrealism and critical theory.

    Source: Random Thoughts, p.
  109. On every occasion, and at every stage, the Surrealists invoked the desired unity of poetry, love and revolt.

    Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 50
  110. On the one hand, the Surrealists attempted to engage in 'politics': they issued tracts and statements on current political crises, sought out radical political groups that appeared sympathetic to their goals and objectives, and even constituted groups such as Contre-Attaque (1935-36) with the deliberate aim of participating in political action. On the other hand, Surrealism was unwilling to forsake 'the political', which for Surrealism may best be described as an experience of freedom grounded in the imaginative possibilities revealed through creative endeavour. It is this experience that constituted the link between the artistic or literary plane and the social plane, between culture and politics in Surrealism. As Breton noted in the Second Manifesto of Surrealism: 'The problem of social action [...] is only one of the forms of a more general problem which Surrealism set out to deal with, and this is the problem of human expression in all its forms'.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 9
  111. 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
  112. 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
  113. Over the past thirty years, capitalist realism has successfully installed a 'business ontology' in which it is simply obvious that everything in society, including healthcare and education, should be run as a business. As any number of radical theorists from Brecht through to Foucault and Badiou have maintained, emancipatory politics must always destroy the appearance of a 'natural order', must reveal what is presented as necessary and inevitable to be a mere contingency, just as it must make what was previously deemed to be impossible seem attainable.

    Source: Capitalist Realism, p. 17
  114. Paranoia was...politically valuable for the way its auto-punitive structure systematically accuses the very ideological forces and "accepted formulas" that Carrington attempts to purge from her system in the opening pages of Down Below. For Crevel, as for Carrington, these accepted formulas, this "thick layer of filth," represented the full force of bourgeois social conditioning on which the spread of fascism throughout Europe was predicated. In this light, the cure for paranoia did not simply mean a reduction of the illness's symptoms...but, more significantly, required a recognition of the subject's self-punishing drive as having a social genesis.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 228
  115. Perhaps the absence of myth is the ground that seems so stable beneath my feet, yet gives way without warning...'Night is also a sun', and the absence of myth is also a myth: the coldest, the purest, the only true myth.

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 48
  116. Perversely, Clair's absurdist condensation of historical causality insists upon the contemporary significance of avant-garde movements. In the case of surrealism, the group's violent rhetorical and poetic practices are no longer relegated to a quaint corner of literary and aesthetic history (as they often are in the U.S.), but are instead implicated in a much greater contemporary crisis in humanism. Indeed, Clair insists upon surrealism's genealogical ties to more recent anti-humanist thinkers, from Lacan and Debord to Deleuze and Baudrillard, who likewise refused to keep their radical ideas out of everyday affairs. This is consistent, Clair reminds us, with the nature of avant-gardism, whose cultural position is based on collapsing the distinction between "art" and "life." This collapse bears ethical as well as aesthetic consequences: what is at stake, for instance, when avant-garde rhetoric is spiked with appeals to violence, as well as with practices that tend toward the dissolution of humanistic ideals? How, and to what extent, do the more incendiary tactics of a movement like surrealism "prepare the mind?" And for what do they prepare it?

    Source: Object Lessons: Surrealist Art, Surrealist Politics, p. 178
  117. Rather than targeting popular magazines or specific bourgeois cultural institutions -- what Sadoul called "the function of the industrial power of a bourgeois nation" -- Dali targeted la conscience itself as an ideological apparatus policing bourgeois class relations.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 161
  118. Recognizing the popular and clinical impact of crime to be an admixture of fiction and fact, the surrealists viewed crime as a phenomenon of the marvelous, an event characterized by the discrepancies and excesses it brought to light. Louis Aragon, in a series of aphorisms published in 1925, refers to this phenomenal quality as "the contradiction that reveals itself within the real." Aragon would later uphold this phenomenon as a mechanism for political change, arguing that the marvelous provides a means for diagnosing crises within existing political and cultural orders, as well as for attacking, in turn, the ideological forces that sustain them as reality...The surrealist fascination with crime is fundamental, I propose, to the movement's collective project, a radical synthesis of diverse fields of knowledge that sought to transform the ordering systems through which we understand and experience modern life.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 1-2
  119. Rene Crevel's 1933 essay "Notes toward a Psycho-dialectic" makes precisely this theoretical move [i.e., a surrealist theory that expands the fields of Marxist inquiry beyond its own orthodox presuppositions]. Published in the same issue of SASDLR as Eduard and Peret's review off the press coverage of the Papin sisters, Crevel's article uses Jacques Lacan's recent doctoral thesis on paranoia to articulate how psychotic crime could provide a means for better understanding political expression. Crevel thus revises Aragon's justification of violent insurrection as a function of "visionary" class awareness, instead describing proletarian revolution as a gradual process of increasing consciousness as a subject...

    Lacan's 1932 thesis on paranoia was appealing to Crevel because it allowed him to expound a materialist theory of unconscious development, which stressed the social rather than the constitutional, genetic, or even instinctual development of paranoia's delusional system. Lacan's study of paranoia stands in opposition to the two major French theories of the illness: the notion of automatism, which understood the mind as series of automatic functions, and of constitutionalism, which understood the mind as organically fixed in its irregularities. Lacan's theoretical breakthrough was to propose instead that paranoia is a delusional system with an emphatically social basis, a condition brought about through the dialectical interplay between the subject and other people. Lacan's theory of paranoia does not simply reject the patient's delusional structure, through which the subject strikes out against her own ego-ideal in the form of a persecuting enemy, as a false or alien theory of persecution; it understands the illness as already a synthesis of conscious perception and unconscious judgment. By studying the social conditions that contribute to paranoia, Lacan thus structures his own theory as a dialectical extension of the illness itself.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 185-186
  120. Rushdie's political aim is familiar: through modestly experimental devices -- multiple narrators, time shifts, the violation of realistic decorum by improbable coincidences, magical events -- to liberate the reader from the tyranny of an inerrant text. As in DeLillo's Libra, Robert Coover's Public Burning, or J.G. Farrell's Empire trilogy, storytelling in The Satanic Verses is meant to act on a world already saturated by narratives, urging the reader to consider an alternative perspective, hoping to free up some space in the real world for another interpretation of the patriotic myth, the official version, the sacred text....The Rushdie affair has become the exemplary instance of the postmodernist political novel encountering actual politics, actual violence.

    Source: Plotting Terror, p. 21
  121. Saint-Pol-Roux looked on helplessly as the room erupted: the Surrealists exchanged blows with other guests amid shouts of 'Long Live Germany!', 'Victory to the Rif!', 'Hail the workers' paradise!', and 'Hurrah for China!'; Philippe Soupault knocked over plates on the tables while swinging from the chandelier; and the passing crowd attempted to lynch Michel Leiris after he began shouting seditious comments from a window overlooking boulevard Montparnasse. Leiris was arrested and beaten severely while in police custody for his efforts...This was not just an aesthetic spat between generations of writers over poetic style; rather, this was subversion of a social, political and cultural nature...and after 2 July 1925, Surrealism could no longer be considered simply another avant-garde artistic or literary 'ism'.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 3
  122. Since Bakunin, Europe has lacked a radical concept of freedom. The Surrealists have one. They are the first to liquidate the sclerotic liberal- moral-humanistic ideal of freedom, because they are convinced that 'freedom, which on this earth can only be bought with a thousand of the hardest sacrifices, must be enjoyed unrestrictedly in its fullness without any kind of pragmatic calculation, as long as it lasts.'...To win the energies of intoxication for the revolution -- this is the project about which Surrealism circles in all its books and enterprises...And the most passionate investigation of the hashish trance will not teach us half as much about thinking (which is eminently narcotic), as the profane illumination of thinking about the hashish trance. The reader, the thinker, the loiterer, the flâneur, are types of illuminati just as much as the opium eater, the dreamer, the ecstatic. And more profane. Not to mention that most terrible drug -- ourselves -- which we take in solitude.

    Source: Surrealism: the Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia, p. 54
  123. Staging paranoia's reflexive play of delusional identifications as an artistic problem, I argue, offered the surrealists a critical system for diagnosing the social forces that threatened to replicate themselves in the age of fascism...Salvador Dali's "Non-Euclidean Psychology of a Photograph," published in Minotaure in 1935, most succinctly illuminates surrealism's "paranoiac" strategy of overlooking an obvious threat in order to highlight broader, more latent evils.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 233
  124. Striving less, for the time being, to 'change life' or to 'change the world' than to understand the nature of causality itself, the Surrealists attempted to read the cultural universe of the early 1930s in terms of the forces which threatened it: its dark motives, its ritualized patterns of behaviour, its terrifying outbursts of violence...I wish to argue that Surrealism's noir period is nonetheless driven by serious political concerns insofar as this dystopian theme actually performs analytical work in the service of the group's political philosophy. Increasingly suspicious of the dangers of stylizing actual terrorist violence, the Surrealists instead make style itself the terrain for better understanding the 'superior reality' of the historical, unconscious, sexual and social facts whose complex structure conditions lived experience and determines political change.

    From chapter: Surrealism Noir by Jonathan Eburne
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 95
  125. Surrealism and its impact on literature and art count as a kind of cultural or aesthetic terrorism (Eburne, 2006), and its psychologically shocking methods of activating the unconscious evoke certain parallels to shock doctrines of paramilitary terrorist attacks (Lindemann, 2001). Surrealism as a theoretical design also evokes some parallels with military terror practices such as gas attacks or with terrorist attacks against social infra- structure, civil society and psychic health, because both are indirect, 'contextual' attacks not directly targeting the adversary's military body but its living environment (Sloterdijk, 2006, 2009). Quasi-surrealistic communication practices of camouflage and disorienting attention are also used for military concerns, for example, in the so-called war on terror (Taussig, 2008). In the eyes of certain controversial observers, surrealism thus represents a relevant inspiration or a decisive cultural element responsible to a certain degree ideologically for terrorist occurrences throughout and beyond the 20th century, up to the suicide attacks on 11 September 2001 in the United States (Clair, 2001). But there also exist clear arguments against this interpretation, claiming that the rhetoric of violence and terror as cultural phenomena does not necessarily mean or imply terrorism in the sense of physical violence (Eburne, 2006; Hecken, 2006; Lindemann, 2001). There is no necessary link, and, in any case, several intermediate steps lie between symbolic destruction by surrealism and physical violence by terrorists. Nevertheless, surrealism obviously represents a kind of 'war within and in particular against the public sphere' (Lindemann, 2001: 21).

    Source: Surrealistic communication as symbolic terrorism: The example of Marcel Mariën’s theory of political campaigning, p. 195
  126. Surrealism offers a useful platform for addressing the contemporary problem of violence, I conclude, because the surrealist critical project during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s itself confronted the stakes of incorporating violence as a political strategy...Even beyond its active period as an avant-garde movement, surrealism continues to offer new ways to think about politics, history, and ideology, as well as a forum for debating the political responsibility of intellectuals.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 17
  127. Surrealist pamphleteering was predominantly destructive because Surrealist politics remained what they had been from the beginning: the politics of protest. Satire and insult were its main weapons. It proceeded by contradiction and not by argument. It was haphazard and undisciplined, shifting its ground from one phrase to the next. Its tone was invariably violent and tended to swing feverishly between the outraged and the outrageous. It expressed unmistakably the political views of poets -- of idealists impatient beyond all endurance at the failure of the real to emulate the imaginable.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 26
  128. Terrorism, however defined, is certainly a calculated assault on the culture of reasonableness. It is also, surely, liberalism rather than democracy that is threatened, not so much by violence itself as by the state's reactions to it -- often, as Schmid notes propelled by popular demands...It is here that the problem of defining terrorism and evaluating the threat it poses becomes acute; the very imprecision of the concept and its operation leads to loose definition of the powers taken to oppose it, while (as in war) the blanket of national security smothers the interrogative powers on which public accountability depends. Without the effective interrogation of legislation and executive action there is no liberal democracy.

    Source: Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction, p. 140
  129. 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
  130. 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
  131. 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
  132. The bases of a practical approach to religion were laid down in L'Action immédiate by René Magritte, E.L.T. Mesens, Paul Nougé, Louis Scutenaire and André Souris:

    We are convinced that what has been done to oppose religion up to now has been virtually without effect and that new means of action must be envisaged.

    At the present time the Surrealists are the people best fitted to undertake this task. So as not to lose any time, we must aim for the head: the outrageous history of religions should be made known to all, the lives of young priests should be made unbearable, and all sects and organizations of the Salvation Army or of the Evangelical variety should be discredited by means of every kind of mockery our imagination can devise. Think how exhilarating it would be if we could persuade the better part of our youth to mount a well prepared and systematic campaign of disruption of church services, baptisms, communions, funerals and so on. Meanwhile roadside crosses might usefully be replaced by images promoting erotic love or poetically eulogizing the natural surroundings, particularly if these happen to be grim.


    Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 41
  133. 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 o 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
  134. The conception of the political at issue is one which 'prolongs ethics ... by giving it a sphere in which to operate. In addition, it prolongs the second constitutive requirement of ethical intention, the requirement of mutual recognition -- the requirement that makes me say: your freedom is equal to my own. Indeed, the ethics of politics consists in nothing other than the creation of spaces of freedom'. The absence of such spaces of freedom is part of the politics of melancholy.

    From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 326
  135. The continual difficulties and internecine squabbling over the next decade between the Surrealists and the Trotskyists make the outward success of Breton's meeting with Trotsky in Mexico all the more surprising. In fact, a close look at these differences of opinion indicates that not only did the Surrealists have very little idea of what Trotsky actually stood for, but the reverse was also true. There is little solid evidence that the Surrealists comprehended Trotsky's role in Soviet leadership -- his arguments, for instance, with Lenin over the question of labour unions, his views on the Chinese revolution, or his attitude towards anarchism. And although Trotsky had no doubt heard of Breton and the Surrealists, his knowledge of their work was extremely limited. His mistrust of certain principles fundamental to Surrealism -- the theory of objective chance in particular -- was in many ways linked to his general incomprehension of modernist literature and the visual arts. For the Surrealists, what was most important by 1938 was that Trotsky was anti-Stalinist, and that his 1924 book, Literature and Revolution, advocated freedom of cultural expression as necessary to any true proletarian state. In 'For An Independent Revolutionary Art', Breton would restate Trotsky's famous dictum from Literature and Revolution that 'art must, above all, be judged by its own laws, that is to say the laws of art'.

    From chapter: Robin Adele Greeley, For An Independent Revolutionary Art: Breton, Trotsky, and Cárdenas's Mexico
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 207-208
  136. The day seems long past when a sorcerer could use art to confuse and destroy the enemy. Even when Brecht evokes the "house of Tar" to take on the Third Reich, we take it as mere metaphor. Poet at work, we say.

    But what if this distinction between art and war is fatuous, that all along the science of war has been a misnomer, just like the distinction between metaphor and reality? How else to explain the frisson we feel when we come across an ancient Chinese manual of war such as that of Sun Tau, reeking of the magic of antiquity and Orientalism, and nod our heads in respect? For one of the strangest things about war whether ancient or postmodern is that as a pumped-out, puffed-up "science," it reeks of craft and witchcraft, accident and chance, as much as planning. Indeed the more "scientific" or "technological" it appears, the more arcane and mysterious, also. Guerrilla warfare makes this doubly so. Clausewitz is known on account of his equation of politics with war, but is not politics merely the tip of a submerged continent of power whose outlines we dimly discern and whose uncanny force we feel?

    To combine a magician, a surrealist painter, and a zoologist, as in the British War Office, is pretty much the mind-set that any of us interested in brushing history against the grain might espouse. So how might one out-camouflage their camouflage? That was John Heartfield's strategy with photomontage in Berlin around the tie Brecht wrote his poem about the anxieties of the regime. Heartfelt was a pioneer in the art of photomontage, cutting up images, rearranging the parts, and adding some new ones and a caption so as to reverse the message or expose its hidden meanings. This would be to counteract the macabre artistry of "love beads," [note: on soldiers] themselves a sardonic transgression of transgression. It is also what Delouse and Guattari ["Treatise on Nomadology: The War Machine" from A Thousand Plateaus] were getting at with their labored notion of the war machine, a machine they saw as the anarchic special ops built into any army, yet antithetical to it....

    Camouflaged soldiers bring into being a most curious amalgam of the allegedly utilitarian and the unacknowledged exotic. Blending with the animal world and the love of imitation therein, together with the aesthetic pleasure of theatrical disguise, the coloration we call camouflage illustrates how narrow is the view of the practical, workaday world if it does not admit that the most practical is also the most aesthetic when transplanted from the field to the battlefield.

    To date the field of aesthetics has paid scant attention to its affinity with the animal and with war, just as it has fought shy of magic and conjuring. So-called primitive societies knew better. To open this doorway, as with the war machine, or with Tom Mitchell's pointed question, "What do pictures want?" is to recast the division between the aesthetic and the practical, a first step to understanding how truth now functions in the Terror of the war against terror.

    Source: Zoology, Magic, and Surrealism in the War on Terror, p. S116
  137. The eating of one species by another is the simplest form of luxury.

    Source: The Accursed Share, p. 33
  138. The facts of Surrealism's involvement with the politics of its day are only too well documented, if often neglected: the explicit and public politicization of Surrealism began with its denunciation of the French war against the native insurgents in Morocco in 1925, thus also making of this inaugural moment for Surrealism an intervention against European colonialism; to this we might add the internal dialogues from 1925 onwards on the nature of Surrealism as a movement: is Surrealism merely a movement in art or is it, indeed, a movement in culture, a movement that may properly be considered a social movement? In 1927 with the manifesto 'Au grand jour', five of the leading members committed themselves to the Parti communiste francais (PCF), thereby beginning one of the most curious pas de deux-as-danse macabre in the history of the intersection of politics and culture. The miserable and in many ways pathetic relationship between the Surrealists and the PCF not only bore out the accuracy of the radical anarchism of Antonin Artaud who, on the occasion of 'Au grand jour', without denying his inner relation to Surrealism, would take his distance from the movement in proclaiming the utter madness of Surrealism's involvement with any established political party, least of all the PCF.

    From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 300
  139. The father of Surrealism was Dada; its mother was an arcade. Dada, when the two first met, was already old. At the end of 1919, Aragon and Breton, out of antipathy to Montparnasse and Montmartre, transferred the site of their meeting with friends to a café in the Passage de l'Opéra. Construction of the Boulevard Haussmann brought about the demise of the Passage de l'Opéra. Louis Aragon devoted 135 pages to this arcade; in the sum of these three digits hides the number nine -- the number of muses who presided as midwives at the birth of Surrealism. These stalwart muses are named Ballhorn, Lenin, Luna, Freud, Mors, Marlitt, and Citroen. A provident reader will make way for them all, as discreetly as possible, wherever they are encountered in the course of these lines. In Paysan de Paris, Aragon conducts as touching a requiem for this arcade as any man has ever conducted for the mother of his son. It is there to be read, but here one should expect no more than a physiology and, to be blunt, an autopsy of these parts of the capital city of Europe, parts that could not be more mysterious or more dead. (See C1,3.) [h°,1]

    Source: The Arcades Project, p. 883
  140. The freedom of interpretation was seen by the Surrealists as a litmus test measuring a society's dedication to liberty. And, of course, for Surrealism, a substantial portion of this interpretive process included those critical and cognitive resources outside of instrumental reason, such as instinct and intuition. Fourierism had made provisions for these components of the human mind. What distinguishes some of the more interesting utopian writers from others in their field was their ability to incorporate the twilight territories of the human psyche into their social schema; in Fourier, it was his inclusion of behavioral motivation and deep creativity borne of the chaotic forces of emotion, perception and the sexual drives that made his theories so tantalizing...Utopianists like Fourier...do not shy away form even the most inexplicable of psychosocial factors and subsequently their writings veer into the poetical register.

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 280
  141. The imbrication of 'state' molarity with 'collective' or 'mass' molecularity made by Deleuze and Guattari is evident throughout The Secret Agent, producing a vision of what we might term entropolitics that disrupts the opposition between a revolutionary and a conservative ethos. For example, the phantasmic transformation of energy problematizes Michaelis's idea of pure materiality, but turns texts and images themselves into quasi-corporeal events, and so facilitates precisely the type of contagion frequently associated with the Anarchist threat: 'it has become a disease which is transmitted from one mad dog to another as hydrophobia is transmitted from one mad dog to another', declared the Saturday Review.

    Source: Terrorism and Modern Literature, p. 53
  142. The imperative to "mobilize all the powers of the imagination" defined the surrealist movement's political commitment in the years following the Rif War.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 126
  143. The internalization of boundaries that the State has put around freedom for a 'liberated' people -- the cowed, passive acceptance of rising levels of domination, restriction and repressive policing -- was a key factor in Fourier's disgust for Western civilization. Concomitant with the rise in repression in bourgeois-liberal European society, Fourier had also spotted sharp increases in the level of artifice that distracted and deluded the senses and the instincts. Anticipating the mid-twentieth-century research by Freudo-Marxists Wilhelm Reich and the Frankfurt School on the psychosexual origins and psychical costs of patriarchal State power, Fourier was alarmed by how unnatural, stifling conventions of thought and behaviour had been reified into civilized values of conformity and consent, and he deemed them to be ultimately toxic to the human animal. In their perpetually ungratified state (Fourier calls them 'suffocated'), passions became twisted and poisonous, resulting in crime, malice, selfishness and war.

    This puts Fourier's thinking on human liberty on a trajectory that takes us to Herbert Marcuse and beyond. Fourier's criticisms of the consensual mentality and its pathologies of war, and the Surrealists' warnings about the inevitable ramifications of the hypocritical, lazy and compromised definitions of liberty allowed to circulate after 1945, lead us to Marcuse's thinking about 'unfreedom' in the lands of 'free' enterprise and 'free' elections...In seeing a third term of unfreedom in the imperialist war in Vietnam and in the bureaucratic micromanagement of everyday life which was parodied by the Da Costa Licence to Live, the Surrealists were attempting to extend the expectations of free people, a fight that was not without political implications.

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 291
  144. The intersubjective, 'public' symbolic space has lost its innocence: narrativization, integration into the symbolic order, into the big Other, opens up a mortal threat, far from leading to any kind of reconciliation. What one should bear in mind here is that this neutrality of the symbolic order functions as the ultimate guarantee for the so-called 'sense of reality': as soon as this neutrality is smeared, 'external reality' itself loses the self-evident character of something present 'out there' and begins to vacillate, i.e., is experienced as delimited by an invisible frame: the paranoia of the noir universe is primarily visual, based upon the suspicion that our vision of reality is always already distorted by some invisible frame behind our backs...

    From chapter: Surrealism Noir by Jonathan Eburne
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 109
  145. The intransigence to which Breton refers thus became, in Eludes 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
  146. 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
  147. The man who works is a man who separates himself from the universe, the man who works is a man already shut up in his house, who binds himself to his bosses, his tables, his workbenches and his tools. The man who works is a man who destroys the profound reality...that surrealism has over the real. And there can be no doubt that the concerns of surrealism, in common with primitive rituals, has been to rediscover, outside that technical activity which weighs so heavily on today's human masses, the irreducible element by which man has no equal more perfect than a star.

    Source: The Absence of Myth, p. 76
  148. The most typical mode of terrorism discourse in the United States has been, indeed, one of Waiting for Terror...Now that we are told "nothing happened" during the period, Beckett's drama of aborted metaphysics and absurdity, with its intolerable emphasis on waiting turned into a kind of art, becomes an apt parable. That which captivates every mind is something so meaningless that it may never happen, yet we are forced to compulsively talk about it while awaiting its arrival. In the theater of the absurd, "non significance" becomes the only significance...When something does happen, after decades during which the absent horror has been omnipresent through the theater of waiting, the event becomes anecdotal evidence to corroborate what was intuited all along -- the by-now permanent catastrophe of autonomous Terror consisting of the waiting for terror.

    Source: Terror and Taboo, p. 26
  149. The object in the drawing by Nouge and Magritte ['Homage to the Papin Sisters'] unsettles its order and "innocence" in a way that no more legitimates the crimes than Eduard and Peret's press review does; what it achieves instead is the effect of transforming the housekeeper's curious expression from an unconscious absorption to a knowing trace of a smile...[T]he drawing's paranoiac depiction of the non-neutrality of innocent spaces becomes all the more immanent.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 196
  150. The only way to look at Man is as the victim of his mirrors.

    Source: A Wave of Dreams, p. 43
  151. The other surrealists...sought forms of collective practice that could reconcile the spiritual freedom Soupault championed with the political actuality promised by party communism...This did not mean that all surrealist writing and art was to become instrumentalized in the service of "effective" revolutionary praxis instead the group mobilized its experimental energies toward broadening the theoretical basis of communism.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 122
  152. The passage from the overtly Marxist LSASDLR [surrealism in the service of revolution] to the luxuriously illustrated Minotaure [in the early 1930s] reflects Surrealism's political migration from a 'red' period of communist activism into what I wish to call its 'noir' period. Characterized by a renewed interest in formal innovation, mental aberration and automatism, this period's affinity with both the roman noir and film noir derives from its use of style and psychoanalysis 'in the service' of realism. That is, its mannered proliferation of stylistic motifs exceeds its own formalism in order to evoke latent forces of terror and social dissolution at work in 'reality'. This change in the group's tenor constitutes 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 accomplishes what might be considered a sublation of the group's overt political activities, a dialectical synthesis which 'negates the negation' of their activism in returning to earlier Surrealist interests like automatic writing and the interpretation of dreams. Its political use-value lies 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 3-4 -- an 'Age of Fear'.

    From chapter: Surrealism Noir by Jonathan Eburne
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 94
  153. The path of surrealism through the twentieth century is littered with corpses...[T]he writers and artists of the surrealist movement dedicated themselves to experimental intellectual practices that responded directly to the violence of twentieth-century history. And while this violence erupted most conspicuously during the mass upheavals of war and revolution, it could be confronted most explicitly, according to the surrealists, in the immediate and vulgar realm of everyday crime...[T]he group's interest in crime was fundamental to its responses to pressing political and intellectual events of the twentieth century.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 1
  154. The plurality of voices and incompleteness is what distinguishes the Surrealist group from any other group as avant-garde, namely, 'to be several, not in order to realize something, but without any other reason (moreover hidden) than to bring plurality into existence in giving it a new sense'. [Blanchot, L'Entretien infini, p. 601]. The understanding of Surrealism as an experience of alterity and negativity, of failure and limit-experience -- and we note that not even a Thirion, still less a Monnerot or Blanchot, ever sets Bataille and Breton up as oppositions, however supposedly heuristically -- should modify the way in which one might think the historical relationship between Surrealism and the PCF and by extension Surrealism and the political.

    From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 328
  155. 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
  156. The report does not render the bloody room legible; rather it catalogues the impressions left by objects in the room in a way that isolates empirical detail from analysis and inductive reasoning. The elements of empirical reality may all be present, but their arrangement is not subject to logical reconstruction, nor does it obey the continuities of naturalist description; the details instead form a meticulous yet blindly taxonomic inventory. This primal scene of murder may know something, but it does not necessarily make any sense.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 29
  157. 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
  158. The Surrealists' demands for a society based on the psychological needs and desires of mankind rather than imposed by the dictates of utility, logic and mindless economic determination, are still profoundly relevant. So too are their efforts to overcome the divorce between the artist and society and to improve the spiritual quality of life. The Surrealists, says André Masson, had to dream politically or cease to be. But they were unable at the same time to act politically. Perhaps it is unjust to blame them for this failure. As Victor Crastre writes, and his remarks about Breton may be applied to the Surrealists as a whole:

    The debate between politics and mysticism is an eternal one: the pure revolutionary and the creator of new social forms are never the same man...The man who combined the two vocations would be a sort of monster (of perfection). From this point of view what might be considered as Breton's failure has been on the contrary the condition of his salvation.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 36
  159. 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
  160. 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
  161. The unconscious itself is a secret agent, for the traumatic event already exists as a memory but never ceases to happen again, forming links with other times: 'traumatic scenes do not form a simple view, like a string of pearls, but ramify and are interconnected like genealogical trees' [Freud and Breuer]. In this sense, Freud's and Breuer's early psychoanalytic writings on hysteria and trauma are particularly pertinent to the issue of terrorism at the time -- particularly in so far as they posit transferences between the body and mind, violence and terror...In Conrad's novel, though, the image of a political unconscious begins to develop around transferences between subjects, such that interconnections of terror and violence are more actively involved in a wider social field.

    Source: Terrorism and Modern Literature, p. 47
  162. The [surrealist] group's aesthetic self-consciousness, I argue, recognized murder as a form of cultural production that generated corpses...Rather than projecting a fixed set of formal aesthetic principles upon the social world, surrealism's aesthetic judgments were proprioceptive, under the aegis of aesthetics, they brought about a scrutiny and analysis of this discursive and specular realm of social relations that extended to contemporary politics...[T]he group's transition from a rebellious faction within Parisian Dada to a surrealist collective hinged on disagreements over the role of murder in the surrealist imagination, especially in differentiating the aesthetic treatment of crime from an aestheticization of crime itself.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 51
  163. Then came the weird pervasive chocolate smell that floated like a cloud over Manhattan. At first you thought it was local, you'd passed an unseen bakery, smelled something wafting, chocolate-sweet, stirring cravings and memories both. You'd scan the area, find nothing, continue on, but the smell was with you everywhere, with you in your apartment, too, though the windows were tight. On the street again, you'd see other glancing up, sniffing air, bemused. And soon confirming: yes, they smelled the same thing...Someone said the mayor had already given a statement, enigmatically terse, maybe hiding something. The chocolate cloud tugged Manhattan's mind in two directs, recalling inevitably the gray fog that had descended or some said been unleashed on the lower part of the island, two or three years ago, and that had yet to release its doomy grip on that zone. Theories floated in the sweetened breeze, yet no investigation could pin a source for the odor.

    Source: Chronic City, p. 205-206
  164. Then the persecuted surrealists will be found in cafés chantants, taking advantage of the confusion to peddle their recipes for infecting images. An attitude, a reflex action, a sudden betrayal of irritability on the part of certain customers will suffice for them to be suspected of surrealism by the police who are keeping them under observation. I can already visualize the law's agents provocateurs with their wiles and their tarps. The right of individuals to forge their own destiny will yet again be restricted and challenged. Public peril will be invoked, or the general interest, or even the preservation of humanity itself...Young people will plunge passionately into this serious, unprofitable game. It will pervert the course of their lives. The Faculties will be deserted, the laboratories closed down. The very idea of armies, families, professions will become inconceivable. Then, in the face of this ever-increasing disaffection of social life, a great conspiracy of all the dogmatic and realist forces of the world will be organized against the phantom of illusions. It will win...

    Source: Paris Peasant, p. 66
  165. There is a problem that I have only hinted at in all of the accounts of the atrocities of the Putumayo rubber boom. While the immensity of the cruelty is beyond question, most of the evidence comes through stories. The meticulous historian would seize upon this fact as a challenge to winnow out truth from exaggeration or understatement. But the more basic implication, it seems to me, is that the narratives are in themselves evidence of the process whereby a culture of terror was created and sustained.

    Source: Culture of Terror/Space of Death, p. 482
  166. There was a crucial difference between the ends envisaged by Surrealists and by Marxists. If both saw the revolution as the prelude to the founding of a world based on the desires of men, their ideas about the content of these desires were not the same. For the Marxists they were material while for the Surrealists they were primarily subjective and spiritual. The resulting human 'goods' in the view of the latter would be individual rather than social. The joys of 'la poésie fate par tour' would be experienced in privacy even when they were accessible to all. As André Masson remarked: 'What is surrealism if not the collective experience of individualism?'

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 33
  167. This type of image-making and image-dependent historiography is also the subject of a pointedly eccentric contribution to the twentieth-century Western European theory of social revolution, namely Walter Benjamin's concepts of redemptive criticism and dialectical images. In his youth, in 1914, Benjamin argued for just the kind of historiography as is exhibited in the image-making provoked by the Virgin of Caloto. Contrary to the view of history as a progressive continuum, the young Benjamin advanced the notion that "history rests collected in a focal point, as formerly in the utopian images of thinkers. The elements of the end condition are not present as formless tendencies of progress but instead are embedded in every present as endangered, condemned, and ridiculed creations and ideas." The historical task, he went on to say, "is to give absolute form in a genuine way to the immanent condition of fulfillment, to make it visible and predominant in the present."

    Source: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man, p. 199
  168. Those who turn their critique of fascism into a question of rational vs irrational are missing the point. It is always fundamentally a question of (moral, ethical, political) values. Where Popper puts his faith in rationalism as the way towards equal rights and justice, and dismisses 'irrational' emotions as inevitably tending towards division and violence, he is neither entirely wrong nor entirely right. Rationalism is necessary but not sufficient. There is nothing about rationalism that obviates inequality, violence, repression, genocide if reason dictates one is better off by catering to such unpleasant impulses. What is needed is rationality guided by humanitarian or egalitarian values. And between the two, values and rationality, values are the driving force; rationality is just the tool.

    Similarly, where the Frankfurt School critiques the Enlightenment for how it enabled Nazism, and the counter-critique emerges about how the Nazis represent irrationality rather than rationality, again what is really important ultimately are values.

    What needs to be highlighted is when repugnant values masquerade as rationalism, as in capitalist realism or fascism. It doesn't much matter whether the repression and violence is rational or irrational. What matters is that it can be exposed for what it is, and cannot pass itself off for what it is not.

    Source: Random Thoughts, p.
  169. Though there are differences in the positions of Bataille and Breton, they were absolutely agreed on one thing: that the possibilities of truly significant change (that is, changes in the forms and sensibilities of life which could alone be adduced revolutionary) could not be controlled or predicted, and thereby, at all costs, the tempestuous events of the mid-1930s had to remain in the streets, outside, that is, the normal practice of politics -- and for both, this meant above all outside the control of the PCF. Thus for both Breton and Bataille, the subsequent failure of the Front Populaire, though deeply disappointing, was not a surprise.

    From chapter: Failure and Community: Preliminary Questions on the Political in the Culture of Surrealism, M. Stone-Richards
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 327
  170. Throughout the twentieth century, most terrorist fiction, even that critical of popular beliefs about terrorism, continued to follow the conventions of nineteenth-century realism For their part, government officials and the press still construct terrorism much as popular fiction does, and terrorists continue to stage their spectacles with an eye to what is now a global stage. Recognizing how often revolutionaries, politicians, and journalists draw on the familiar terrorist story inevitably leads to wondering how it might be disrupted, and Friedrich Dürrenmatt's The Assignment offers an extended response to that question. In this 1986 novella, Dürrenmatt links the inadequacy of familiar representations to the limitations of realism itself, blending an absurdist critique of contemporary politics with a postmodern conception of terrorism.

    Source: Plotting Terror, p. 108
  171. Tis book of two parts, terror and healing, takes little for granted and leaves even less in its place. It derives from the almost I've years I spent in the southwest of Colombia, South America, from 1969 to 1985, in periods varying from one month to two years. During those times my hand was tried at several things: history, anthropology, medicine, mythology, magic, to name but the nameable and leave the remainder where the subject matter of this book communicates itself -- in the politics of epistemic murk and the fiction of the real, in the creation of Indians, in the role of myth and magic in colonial violence as much as in its healing, and in the way that healing can mobilize terror in order to subvert it, not through heavenly catharses but through the tripping up of power in its own disorderliness.

    Source: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man, p. xiii
  172. 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
  173. To those familiar with postmodern art, [The Satanic Verse's] subsequent juxtapositions of Othello allusions with advertising jingles, or of fantasies about medieval Arabia with quasi-journalistic exposés of police brutality in contemporary England, scarcely seem surprising. Blurring history and fiction to make the historical appear fantastic is the stock in trade of such books. The 1983 Hawkes Bay incident, for example, in which a Pakistani woman, Naseem Fatima, led thirty-eight Shiah pilgrims to their deaths in the sea out of the mistaken belief that it would part to allow them to pass safely to the holy city of Kerbala, needs little fictional transformation to fit into the phantasmagoric world of Gibreel Farishta's unwelcome dreams.

    Source: Plotting Terror, p. 20
  174. Too often, in the eyes of its critics and advocates alike, surrealism has tended to designate a quaint set of formal practices that yielded the movement's unusual, and seemingly obfuscatory, visual and verbal works as well as its broader "utopian" program of dream and revolution. Even now, in an era longing to resist the mounting pressures of orthodoxy and fundamentalism, many scholars continue to brand surrealism as an orthodoxy unto itself, albeit an orthodoxy of the bizarre...[but] surrealism itself demanded, in the words of Andre Breton, a perpetual crisis in consciousness whose methods changed as the movement's participants changed. It is this insistence on change -- even on crisis and internal debate -- that has challenged scholars and critics with the task of defining such a tangle of writers and artists, practices and ideas. Major recent studies of surrealism have broadened the field of surrealist scholarship by focusing on the participatory and even dialectical nature of the movement, as well as by featuring writers and artists whose contributions had previously been overlooked. Moving beyond the axiomatic work of defining and introducing the movement, I argue that the rifts, disagreements, and exclusions through which surrealism consistently reinvented itself reflect the volatility of a group of public intellectuals bent on challenging the existing epistemological and political order, the silent pacts that guarantee reality as an a priori set of givens.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 5
  175. True antifascism, the surrealists argued, required more than a mobilization against some strange, alien threat. Rather, as the Noziere case fully revealed, it required a fundamental attack on petit-bourgeois values not just the revolution in class relations to which the surrealists remained committed throughout the 1930s, but even more fundamentally, a revolution in family values -- a revolution, in other words, in gender relations. Like the rewriting of Violette's name, this revolution would require not only violence but also a form of writing and thinking that is at once stealing and flying, a surrealist libération de l'esprit.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 214
  176. Two months they had been together now and their crimes had been many and foul enough, as they wielded the x-ray bullet.

    But it had been (or Charles had thought it so) lighthearted and young. He had quieted his soul -- the old, old story! -- with a list of his misfortunes, with a tale of the world's misdeeds. He pictured himself a latter-day cavalier, a modern Robin Hood, astride the machine as the others bestrode their horses. He had told himself that he had robbed the rich to feed the poor. He had -- ah! now, with a sickened courage he looked back at it all; he knew now the hideous brain that had urged him on; he saw himself for the fool that he had been.

    Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 154-155
  177. 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
  178. 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
  179. 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
  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
  181. Unlike Trotsky's persistent view that culture was ultimately a subsidiary issue, Breton and the Surrealists conceptualized it as central both to any understanding of power relationships under capitalism and to any theory of social change. In fact, Surrealism's dedication to cultural theory marks its fundamental opposition to Trotsky's more orthodox Marxism...Along with other Western Marxists such as Antonio Gramsci and Walter Benjamin, the Surrealists argued that a critique of culture in relation to politics was crucial to any revolutionary analysis of capitalist society. Susan Buck-Morss, writing on Benjamin, notes the key lesson he learned from Surrealism: that the cultural contents of history were "the source of critical knowledge that alone can place the present into question."...While Benjamin questioned Surrealism's absolute faith in the transformatory power of aesthetics, both shared a commitment to cultural analysis and artistic production as essential to Marxism that was far from Trotsky's view.


    From chapter: Robin Adele Greeley, For an Independent Revolutionary Art: Breton, Trotsky and Cárdenas's Mexico
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 218-219
  182. We begin with an example of what is perhaps the Surrealists' first significant intervention into the intricate nexus of culture and politics: the Saint-Pol-Roux banquet of 2 July 1925. What began as a cultured dinner party in Montparnasse organized by the Mercure de France to honor the ageing Symbolist poet, Saint-Pol-Roux, ended with Surrealists being arrested, condemned by the press, and threatened with violent right-wing reprisals. This event and the ensuing controversy not only alienated the Surrealists from other guests at the banquet and reinforced Surrealism's oppositional stance against the European cultural mainstream, but it also marked 'Surrealism's final break with all conformist elements of the time', and signalled Surrealism's decisive turn towards Communism.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 1
  183. What Benjamin came to advocate was a sort of surrealist technique using what he called "dialectical images" -- an obscure yet compelling notion better left to example than to exegesis: what his friend Theodore Adorno referred to as "picture puzzles which shock by way of their enigmatic form and thereby set thinking in motion." Picture puzzles is of course how Freud referred to the manifest content of dream imagery, and if it was to the manifest and not to the latent level that Benjamin was drawn, that was because of the way such images defamiliarized the familiar, redeeming the past in the present in a medley of anarchical ploys. Unlike current modes of deconstruction, however, the intent here was to facilitate the construction of paradise from the glimpses provided of alternative futures when otherwise concealed or forgotten connections with the past were revealed by the juxtaposition of images, as in the technique of montage -- a technique of great importance to Benjamin. Indeed, Stanley Mitchell tells us that "Benjamin came to regard montage, i.e., the ability to capture the infinite, sudden, or subterranean connections of dissimilars, as the major constitutive principle of the artistic imagination in the age of technology." The understanding we are led to is that the "dialectical image" is in itself a montage, both capturing the aforementioned connections between dissimilars and also that which is thereby captured. What was at stake then was the issue of graphicness in Marxist method, and with that the whole way not only of representing history but of changing it.

    Source: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man, p. 369
  184. 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
  185. What the children revealed now, that no image could ever reproduce, was its sublime and superb thingliness (again this word came unbidden). Perks had been merciful, I now saw, leaving me to ascend here in solitude, to permit me first contact unmediated. I didn't want to talk. I didn't want to share. Like Georgina, I fought an urge to shed my clothes.

    Time, among other things, was destroyed. I don't know how long I sagged there, feeling the cool plaster through the shoulders of my suit, a Saint Sebastian in continuous ecstatic surrender to the one ubiquitous and unceasing arrow of the chaldron streaming toward me from above....In the chaldron's holistic force I also saw that Perkus's apparently schizophrenic inquiries all led to the same place, whether I could follow them or not. They sprang from the certainty that a thing as splendid as the chaldron could be hidden, hogged, privatized by the mayor and other overlords. This theft in turn described the basic condition of Manhattan and the universe. Whatever Perkus mourned or beckoned from the brink of vanishing -- Morrison Groom and his fabulous ruined films, Brando, the polar bear and Norman Mailer, ellipsis, every thwarted gasp of freedom -- all were here, sealed for safekeeping, and at the same time so healthy their promise grinned from the container.

    Source: Chronic City, p. 333-334
  186. What we also see is that an illness of the body is a bodily attempt at inscribing a history of otherness within the body that is the self, a tentative yet life-saving historiography that finds the dead hand of the past never so terribly alive as in the attacks by the spirits of the restless dead, such as Rosario's fiancé, or as in the sorcery of the envious. Through misfortune and its changing definition with attempts at healing, this picturing of the bodily self as the locus of otherness ineluctably enters into the exchange of magical powers established between Indian shamans and the Church, an exchange that operates with the powerful medium of visual images. Hallucinogens and points of rupture in everyday life -- illness, accident, coincidence, dusk -- can make this image-realm manifest and manifestly empowering, and it was Rosario's task to tie the power of the pagan to the power of the Church, ensuring in this circulation of images their dialectical solidarity.

    Source: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man, p. 168
  187. Whereas many artists and writers of the postwar surrealist group turned their attention toward ethnography and hermeticism in their investigation of alternative social myths, many of the critics, intellectuals, and popular writers who responded to surrealism centered their attention on the poetics of black humor. For Breton -- and, as we will see, for other figures of the postwar era who might also be considered "black humorists," principally Chester Himes, Marcel Duhamel, and Leo Malet -- the concept was far from an aesthetic or literary-historical category alone. Rather, black humor formed a significant part of postwar French intellectual discourse surrounding the question of writing as a political and ethical practice.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 245
  188. Whereas Naville presented Surrealism with a choice between two possible courses of action, Breton called on the marvellous to defuse this antinomy. The reality of the mind was no less valid than that of facts; moreover, this opposition was resolved in the experience of the marvellous, where the image constituted an articulation between the subjective reality of the mind and material facts. The 'appeal to the marvellous' was an appeal to the revolutionary dimension of Surrealist experience -- what Benjamin later called 'profane illumination'.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 58
  189. While Breton often locates this disruptive force in the mind's encounter with the feminine, Carrington places the disruptive force in mind and body alike, creating the space for a feminine experience that shifts Surrealist aesthetics away from mere male psychic liberation, while avoiding the trap of a universalized femininity. In so doing, Carrington makes history a central concern for surreal experience.

    Source: Disruptive Testimonies: The Stakes of Surrealist Experience in Breton and Carrington, p. 102
  190. While experience and factual knowledge is not necessarily a precondition for a great work of art, terrorists who are the product of a fertile imagination alone are of greater interest to the student of literature than to the student of terrorism. Böll dealt primarily neither with the Meinhofs and Baaders nor with the innocent bystanders, but with the vague sympathizers, those affected by the anti-terrorist backlash, brutal police practices and a yellow press operating without inhibitions and conscience.

    Source: The Age of Terrorism, p. 196-197
  191. With the rapid narrowing of choices for expression and living in postwar Europe, the Surrealists reacted by reclaiming some of the most radical notions of liberty available -- notions of liberty so swollen with unlimited potential that life would seem magical and wholly unlike anything available to them. And it was this need for a language of unbounded imagination and emancipation that drew Breton to the critics-utopian socialists like Saint-Simon and Fourier (and Sade as well). One cannot underestimate the visionary power of the reformist writers of the first half of the nineteenth century, Breton wrote. What is so vibrant in their writing is not the viability of their social reform schemes, but rather their unrestricted power to dream with the same quality of 'extreme freshness' that one finds among non-European artisans of ritual objects and self-taught art brut creators...Beyond the scientific laws of physics and biology, there should be no limits as to what can be proposed or imagined in a truly free society.

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 281-282
  192. Without itself offering a positive model or ideology for truthful understanding (the detective genre is, like the photographic black box, a blind instrument), surrealism's recourse to the locked room mystery establishes the intellectual conditions of surrealism as conditions of epistemological violence rather than of ideological certainty or heady discovery, characterized by the genre's blind and ostensibly impartial assassination of old forms of thought.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 27
  193. Yet whereas a paranoiac might claim to have an unmediated relationship with things-in-themselves, the disease itself could be read and understood as a representation of the aggregate factors that produced it, such as the subject's social conditions, case history, and structures of unconscious desire. As Jacques Lacan argues in the first of the two articles he published in Minotaure, paranoia's systematic distortion of a subject's relationship to the real provided a "new syntax," a system of representation that offered a model for better understanding the nature of causality in the first place. Paranoia's "new syntax," the surrealists suggested, was already a representation of complex structures of social and psychological determination that could be mobilized for the sake of political understanding.

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 180
  194. [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
  195. [A]s the Surrealists saw it, people had become dangerously complacent about the limits that the State put on 'emancipation'. Nazi Germany and the Iron Curtain were not the only threats to freedom -- from the French bureaucratic monoliths and colonial wars of the late 1940s to the union sacreée of the national security state in the US today, more and more people allow themselves to settle for less and less liberty, as Fourier had studied for himself and which the Surrealists had taken to heart.

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 290
  196. [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
  197. [F]or the surrealists, art is superceded not when its distinction from political life collapses, as Clair puts it, but when it fuses imagination with interpretation and thus becomes coextensive with philosophy and science.

    Source: Object Lessons: Surrealist Art, Surrealist Politics, p. 179
  198. [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
  199. [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
  200. [I]t is critical to note that the surrealists' reaction to the Noziere affair is different from their relation to Violette herself as either a body, a subject, or the object of their attention. In the book she remains very much a set of signifiers, never photographed or represented "realistically" like Germaine Berton or the Papin sisters, insofar as her features, appearance, and physicality are not fixed in or by a single image...Breton explains this process of transmutation into myth in the book's first lines, as a function of the media spectacle Violette has become:

    All the world's curtains drawn before your eyes
    It's pointless for them
    Before their mirror gasping for breath
    To stretch the jinxed bow of ancestry and posterity
    You no longer resemble anyone living or dead
    Mythological to the tips of your fingernails

    Source: Surrealism and the Art of Crime, p. 209
  201. [I]t was not the Surrealists' belief in the practicality of the utopian mythologies of Fourier's peculiar socialism that led them to advance his schemes; rather, Theory of the Four Movements and Incoherent Industry were hailed by the Surrealists for their potentially liberating effect on the imagination, and their ability to do so in a way that far exceeded any other available remedies of the day which insisted on closed political systems.

    From chapter: Attacks of the Fantastic, Donald LaCoss
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 271
  202. [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
  203. [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
  204. [Quoting Paul Nougé of the Belgian Surrealist group:] We must turn what can be ours to the very best account. Let man go where he has never gone, experience what he has never experienced, think what he has never thought, be what he has never been. But help is called for here: such departures, such a crisis, need to be precipitated, so with this in mind let us create disconcerting objects.

    Source: A Cavalier History of Surrealism, p. 54
  205. [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
  206. [S]ome...decried Surrealism as reactionary or counterrevolutionary, since these [post-1940] works seemed to be encouraging fantasies rather than actually organizing people's dissatisfaction in a more 'practical' manner. Critics pounced on Surrealism for being obsolete and immaterial to the harsh conditions of the postwar world, saying that Surrealist activity succeeded only in doping the masses into quiescent states of subordination with their illusions, metaphysical evasions and reverie.

    From chapter: Donald LaCoss, Attacks of the Fantastic
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 268
  207. [T]he live 'hysteric' served as the perfect cipher for the Surrealist exhibition's provocation against both modernism and its most authority-weighted institutions. Remote from the productivist/rational/utopian concerns of what is now understood as high modernism, the Surrealists violently rejected, in particular, architectural modernism throughout the life of the movement. During the 1930s, Dali even conflated hysteria with the 'terrifying and edible beauty' of Art Nouveau -- that architecture whose asymmetry, undulating curves and 'perversity' offered a corrective, in the Spaniard's view, to the right angles and functionalism of the modernist architecture championed by Le Corbusier. An edifice as hysterical body, womb, psychic envelope or crumbling ruin emerged as the only possible counter for Surrealism to the repressive authority of Architecture.

    From chapter: Elena Filipovic, Surrealism in 1938: The Exhibition at War
    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 195-196
  208. [T]he Surrealist belief [was] that creative endeavor required a radical kind of liberty inseparable from a broadly conceived political revolution.

    Source: Surrealism, Politics and Culture, p. 10
  209. [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
  210. [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