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+4 votes

If yes, then how so?

Some background:

I've been introduced to surrealism through some of Ron Sakolsky's work (ex: 'Creating Anarchy') and gone on to Breton (of course!) and some of the Chicago Surrealist Group's writing (ex: 'Surrealist Subversions'). I was immediately drawn to the aim of destroying the omnipresent conceptual dichotomies of dream/reality, imagination/reason, etc. and replacing myself in 'the Marvelous' rather than continuing to inhabit the dominant miserabilist paradigm.

Edited to add link.

Another edit: For those who are already acquainted with surrealism's more philosophical aspect or perhaps unfamiliar with surrealism altogether, I'd recommend Refusal of the Shadow. RotS offers not only a great introduction to surrealism generally, but the Carribbean surrealists in particular mainly focused on Martinique. Some was written under the Vichy regime, and it offers a unique glimpse of a French colony during that period. The book's introduction is well written and contextualizes the authors of the essays which make up the rest of the book.

by (7.5k points)
edited by
it's been a while since I've hit a vape, they give you a much more clear-headed high than just smoking it, which I don't do cuz it makes me too judgemental and analytical
ba@, i think a story like the one you describe would be the perfect answer to this question... :)

dot, thanks for the encouragement. i'll give it a shot.

funky, i liked "waking life"...haven't seen it in a while, or with a vape...good suggestion

rs666: "video games, but that is such a bland dream world to me, i would like it to be something more loving and strange than that."

i recommend exploring dreams....i think you will find it more strange and loving....and surreal....than someone else's programming.

af, thanks for that new link, i will check that out when i can. i have never really felt like i understand surrealism philosophically. i only know that i like some of the visual creations of escher and dali.
you may enjoy some of wilfredo lam's work. he was an chinese/afro-cuban surrealist painter who figures prominently in the book.

1 Answer

+1 vote
Here's some scattered thoughts about surrealism: the second manifesto of surrealism (which is a terrifically fun read actually) breton explains his reasons for expunging various members of the group: so and so has shit politics, so and so is an 'ideological slut' etc. etc. This way of operating scares me because it seems like it indicates that he was so sure he had the correct praxis that he was prepared to be awful to people he had considered friends. (not to mention that many of the people he kicked out were actually highly interesting and radical). one of the surrealist magazines (probably la revolution surrealist after breton took over, but I could be misremembering) they w/ an air of boastfulness reprint a telegraph exchange between breton and the 3rd international. It goes something like this: "3rd int. asks answer to following q: what will the surrealists do in event of imperialist assault on soviet union? breton: will continue with that to which we are most suited, (i.e. cultural production) until given specific instructions. if needed can transform into armed guerrilla faction or whatev."

3.breton met w/ diego rivera and leon trotsky on the shores of a certain lake where between the 3 of them they hammered out a nice, clear programmatic statement on the autonomy of art (except, like, in the statement this is posed entirely in relation to a revolutionary project...)

I suppose what I am getting at is that for people interested in the kinds of things they were, they could be surprisingly doctrinaire and cloddish.

Another problem I have w/ them is that much of the work they made doesn't make sense except in terms of Freudian dream theories, which to me is just awful.

However, a lot of them are still quite compelling to me.  I think Michel Leiris is really cool. Duchamp obviously. People never talk about it but Man Ray had some really excellent readymades as well. Although I hate his art myself, and his public persona, I think that Dali was actually quite a good writer, and his "paranoiac critical method" is quite interesting.  Marcel Broodthaers, a kind of post-surrealist, is actually one of my favorite artists. You might be able to tell from this list that I prefer thinking about them in terms of value theory rather than theories of the unconscious. I guess that's my answer.
by (8.0k points)
edited by

interesting answer. although, for me, it seems a bit too confined/constricted (ie. as art-movement-from-the-20s-roughly-to-the-40s?), at least from what i've read. for instance, no mention of the Cesaires' who's impact on the surrealist movement during the 40s-50s was quite pronounced and vice versa. or the Chicago group founded in 67 and which is still active.

also, Dali was booted for the reason that he was increasingly at odds with surrealism (ex:approving statements of fascism, his snide comments regarding 'l'art négre').

i do agree that some of the earlier stuff was a bit doctrinaire and cloddish as you say, and far too lefty for my liking, but overall the movement moved beyond those parameters in many ways, particularly given its internationalist perspective which in turn evolved and broadened as the movement actualized in different places outside France (ex: Cairo, Dominican Republic, Martinique, the US)

edited to add:

i realize too it could be that my tag ('andre-breton') creating the conditions conducive for more historical answers. i may remove it.

edit: tag replaced

that's true - and even within this period my answer is mainly just about the breton group. I didn't even mention lautreamont, tzara, photography or biomorphism or anything. it's not a good history at all, just me reacting to the aspect that I think of as being the most productive as well as the most worrisome.

Aime Cesaire is really interesting - I think notebook of a return to the native land is very compelling. I didn't know of him as being a surrealist (rather just a friend of Breton) but I don't know very much about him so that's not surprising.