But even this is a simplification. Dali, for example, describes the artistic sensitivity of the surrealists in the early days of their friendship. While they were delighted with his subject matter in general, they were also visibly disturbed by certain scatological themes: Blood was acceptable. Even a little excrement.
The arsehole was frowned upon!
Sadism, umbrellas, and sewing machines could all be found in dream imagery, but all references to religion or mysticism, except sacrilegious ones, Surrealism and Art 25 were taboo. When one examines the exemplars of surrealist art, one cannot help but be struck by their Dadaist affinities. Duchamp and Picabia made their mark long before surrealism was conceived. Much the same can be said for Man Hay, who was introduced to the Paris art world by Duchamp, 18 and ha Arp and Max Ernst who, each in his own way, had previously exposed the soft underbelly of fantasy which concrete reality masks Iml cannot eliminate.
With this one difference: whereas the farce and die e mulcir were integral parts of Dada, surrealist humor is much more of a reluctant afterthought. In least one way surrealist art recalls that of prehistoric times. For revelation, in this context, must of necessity be human, since the divine, to the surrealists, is by definition nonexistent. Revelation thus becomes the third term in the dialectic starting with objective and subjective, the synthesis of poetry and politics, of desire and material resistance, of innocence and violence, of the real and the unreal.
What it lacks in formal coherence, in neo-academic finish, it more than makes up for by its atmosphere. It is brute reality or it is nothing. With some the eroticism hides behind terror, will 1 others it is veiled in an equivocal game; in Chagall it has the magic of tenderness, in le douanier Rousseau it is luxuriant, in Dali Iumkly libidinous—everywhere, it would seem, it is a homeopathic chic for two endemic human afflictions, the absence of love and the Ira 1 of death.
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The recurrence of 1 lie fantastic in folk myth, painting, and literature, the appeal of love I brines in all media and in all periods for which records exist, the universality of verbal incantations, all suggest that there is a firm biological or social anchor for surrealism, that it is a significant at- lempl to renew acquaintance with a part of man long ignored by a narrowly rational civilization 22 The surrealist painter would be the Hr. I lo recognize the irreality of his work, but he likely would react lo it as he would to an exorcism. He is both its master and its slave: though he has created it, he too is caught by the spell.
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Slowly lift the top sheet, as you would in making a decalcomania, replace and lift again until almost dry. At its best it might offer the semblance of paradise, but only for the time of the music. Whereas the results of an hour of writing automatically or making random blots and scrapings on a canvas might reveal a vein of gold hidden beneath the surface of some ra- Surrealism and Art 29 humI discipline, music—like poetry for Sartre—can reveal nothing, bring primarily ornament and opiate.
The surrealist objection, therefore, would ap- pi'ui to have more subtle roots, or more personal ones.
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On one tit elision he even questions the importance of Miro to surrealism because he is too unsophisticated, too unintellectual. Ii is here that Breton parts company with the great majority of his I mil emporaries for whom reason and science alone are capable of alh a ding reliable answers to the problems which beset modern man.
II I lie surrealists have long been considered anti-intellectual, it is more lor their reliance upon techniques unsubstantiated by present- day science than for their total rejection of reason. As early as Breton litnl set the tone by proposing the construction of objects seen in die mis, objects which would bear witness to the latent desires of the diearner and serve as either a magic talisman or a treasure from mu illier world.
On the individual level it permits exorcism of personal obsessions, on the collective level it purports to reveal a hidden wonderland. He is Alice seeking a way back through the looking glass. If the value of the word lies in its evoca- tlvr power, so does that of the film sequence. Meaning, logic, story line, and aesthetic considerations are as irrelevant in this medium as they are elsewhere in the movement.
We were normally in agreement on just about everything.
However intransigent it might be in other Helds. And the former, while surrealist in tone, was completed some time before Bunuel or Dali met the group. The film does just that: it simulates a world where dream and reality are one. The paradox is sufficiently real for the early surrealists and Breton himself to have confused the issues. Imndoned in the thirties as being far less important, it would seem, iltiui evoking some revelation in the spectator or reader.
And quite as important, though on another level, the increased cost of making a film placed it beyond the reach of the surrealists. At best, then, it is more catharsis than preparation for revolt. We have walked long enough on the bridge: the sea has been colorless ever since we left port. Not even the dice we toss or the cards we play can make us forget that city which we will shortly see: our life is at stake.
Its the rain which greets us in those deserted streets. Birds and hope are far off. In all cities the restaurants are warm. We no longer even think; we look rather at the faces of the diners, at the door, or at the light. Are we aware that we will have to leave and pay?
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It would be best to laugh away these concerns. We have what amounts to a prose parallel to the film, a complementary vision more than an analytic one. They will say this was the last refuge of sentimentality. Women and trips, what pretexts! Speed up the camera and men dash about at dizzying speeds, slow it down and they are caught in some thick, transparent syrup. Mountains can move and phantoms speak. The dead rise. How could they? It was his film being shown in the darkened theater, but he was no more responsible for it than he was for his dreams, or his poetry.
This was real life, unencumbered with the details of daily life. And when this two-dimensional, bloodless projection was over, as with a dream, the spectator could rise and leave, leaving to others the tiresome task of rewinding the reels and preparing for the next seance. Ill: The Early Literature of Surrealism I hr writings of surrealism, rejecting the techniques of hypothesis and controlled observation normally associated with an empirical sci- rin r, and lacking the trappings of a religion, fall most easily into the categories of literature and art.
Pure psychic automatism by means of which we propose to express either verbally, in writing, or in some other fashion what really goes on in the mind.
It tends to undermine all other psychic mechanisms and to take their place in the resolution of the principal problems of life. Iu spite ol the problems one? The question of technique, how to bypass the Censor, whether by drugs, dreams, mediums, imitation of the writings of psychotics, inspiration, love, group collaboration in some verbal or pictorial game such as that of the cadavre exquis , is not touched on at all in this definition, indeed is only alluded to fleetingly and jocularly almost Dadaistically elsewhere in the Manifesto. Thomas, and Anatole France. To Breton, theirs was an ungenerous refusal to grant reality to anything but the average, the overt, and the mediocre.
The exceptional, in either the intellectual or moral spheres, was suspect—an attitude no surrealist or humanist could accept. Even the doctrine of materialism, unacceptable though it was, had more merit, as it at least recognized the unity of man and of all of his acts and granted him the possibility of locating an earthly paradise, a possibility rejected by competing spiritualists.
True life lies elsewhere. Nonetheless, there is a small amount of direction, found generally in the organization of the poem. There is inevitably an element of grandeur in the surrealist aspiration and a unity of style and content which, while at worst obscure and at best opaque, signals a revolutionary turbulence of no mean proportions. The first, a potpourri of scenes presumably dreamed, give every indication of careful reconstruction; the second, tales quite as brief as the dreams pp.
From the July issue of La Revolution surrealiste no. Automatic writing is little in evidence, much less so, for example, than carefully contrived, baroque imagery. The period from to reflects a conscious desire on the part of the surrealists to test the pronouncements of Breton's first Manifesto. When nothing but a liieklo came forth, the more formal systems of Marxism and magic, ilirjidy present, were pressed into more active service. I low automatic was automatic writing? In Les Champs magnetiques we see a perfectly normal prose, I hi less troubling than that of Mallarme or even Proust.
Is this the shorthand of the Unconscious? Je fais ce que je peux pour que mes parents aient du monde le soir. Voici que les prides so replieiit. Simplicites des lunes anciennes, vous etes de savants mysteres pour nos yeux injectes de lieux communs. Un carnet tomba de sa poche mais Fhomme avait disparu. Yai prefere la cruaute.
Les manufactures anatomiques et les habitations a bon marche detruiront les villes les plus hautes.
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La fievre tourne doucement dans ma poitrine; on dirait le bruit plus lointain des villes vers onze heures du soir. Plence the absence of any carefully contrived story, clever characterizations, or pretty rhythmic lines. In this land of magic innocence we have a paradise of de- llglils from which violence has been banished, the images tamed, and I la- hours spent pursuing vaguely female forms in a wonderland Alice would have nodded to familiarly. How automatic is section ii. Poisson soluble , sec. Poisson , sec. Nous reduirons Fart a sa plus simple expression qui est Famour; nous reduirons aussi le travail, a quoi, mon Dieu?
A la musique des corrections lentes qui se payent de mort. Ce sont des villes! Les Bacchantes des banlieues sanglotent et la terre brule et hurle. Les personnages de la comedie se rassemblent sous un porche.
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