What Is Surrealism? Essay, Research Paper
At the beginning of the war of 1870 the writer of the Chants de Maldororand of Po sies, Isidore Ducasse, better known by the name of Comte de Lautr amont, whose ideas had been of the really greatest aid and encouragement to many surrealists, made the undermentioned comment ;
& # 8220 ; At the hr in which I write, new shudders are running through the rational ambiance ; it is merely a affair of holding the bravery to confront them. & # 8221 ;
Many of you, no uncertainty, would set this down to a certain vernal ecstasy and to the general savageness of the clip ; I must, nevertheless, insist on this attitude, common to peculiar work forces and attesting itself at periods about half a century distant from one another. I should confirm that in ignorance of this attitude one can organize no thought of what surrealism truly stands for. This attitude entirely can account, and really sufficiently at that, for all the surpluss that may be attributed to us but which can non be deplored unless one gratuitously supposes that we could hold started from any other point. The ill-sounding comments, that are imputed to us, the alleged inconsiderate onslaughts, the abuses, the wrangles, the dirts & # 8211 ; all things that we are so much reproached with & # 8211 ; turned upon the same route as the surrealist verse form. From the really beginning, the surrealist attitude has had that in common with Lautr amont and Rimbaud which one time and for all binds our batch to theirs, and that is wartime defeatism.
I am non afraid to state that this defeatism seems to be more relevant than of all time. They are, in fact, ever running through the rational ambiance: the job of their extension and reading remains the same and, every bit far as we are concerned, remains to be solved. At the hr in which I speak, old and mortal trembles are seeking to replace themselves for those, which are the very trembles of cognition and of life. They come to denote a atrocious disease, a disease followed by the want of all rights ; it is merely a affair of holding the bravery to confront them besides. This disease is called fascism.
Confirming that today, more than of all time before, the release of the head, demands as primary status, in the sentiment of the surrealists, the express purpose of surrealism, the release of adult male, which implies that we must fight with our hobbles with all the energy of desperation ; that today more than of all time before the surrealists wholly rely for the conveying about of the release of adult male upon the proletarian Revolution.
A certain immediate ambiguity contained in the word surrealism, is, in fact, capable of taking one to say that it designates I know non what nonnatural attitude, while, on the contrary it expresses & # 8211 ; and ever has expressed for us- a desire to intensify the foundations of the existent, to convey about an even clearer and at the same clip of all time more passionate consciousness of the universe perceived by the senses. The whole development of surrealism, from its beginnings to the present twenty-four hours, which I am about to retrace, shows that our ageless wish, turning more and more pressing from twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours, has been at all costs to avoid sing a system of idea as a safety, to prosecute our probes with eyes broad unfastened to their outside effects, and to guarantee ourselves that the consequences of these probes would be capable of confronting the breath of the street. At the bounds, for many old ages past & # 8211 ; or more precisely, since the decision of what one may term the strictly intuitive era of surrealism at the bounds, I say, we have attempted to show interior world and exterior world as two elements in procedure of fusion, or eventually going one. This concluding fusion is the supreme purpose of surrealism: Interior world and exterior world being, in the present signifier of society, in contradiction ( and in this contradiction we see the really cause of adult male & # 8217 ; s unhappiness, but besides the beginning of his motion ) , we have assigned to ourselves the undertaking of facing these two worlds with one another on every possible juncture, of declining to let the distinction of the 1 over the other, yet non of moving on the one and on the other both at one time, for that would be to say that they are less apart from one another than they are ( and I believe that those who pretend that they are moving on both at the same time are either lead oning us or are a quarry to a perturbing semblance ) ; of moving on these two worlds non both at one time, so, but one after the other, in a systematic mode, leting us to detect their mutual attractive force and interpenetration and to give to this interplay of forces all the extension necessary for the tendency of these two bordering worlds to go one and the same thing.
The definition of surrealism that has passed into the dictionary, a definition taken from the Manifesto of 1924, takes account merely of this entirely idealist temperament and ( for voluntary grounds of simplification and elaboration destined to act upon in my head the hereafter of this definition ) does so in footings that suggest that I deceived myself at the clip in recommending the usage of an automatic idea non merely removed from all control exercised by the ground but besides disengaged from & # 8220 ; all aesthetic or moral preoccupations. & # 8221 ; It should at least have been said: witting aesthetic or moral preoccupations. During the period under reappraisal, in the absence, of all earnestly detering exterior events, surre
alist activity remained purely confined to its first theoretical premiss, go oning all the piece to be the vehicle of that entire “non-conformism” which, as we have seen, was the binding characteristic in the coming together of those who took portion in it, and the cause, during the first few old ages after the war, of an uninterrupted series of adhesions. No consistent political or societal attitude, nevertheless, made its visual aspect until 1925, that is to state ( and it is of import to emphasize this ) , until the eruption of the Moroccan war, which, re-arousing in us our peculiar ill will to the manner armed struggles affect adult male, suddenly placed before us the necessity of doing a public protest.
Surrealist activity, faced with a brutal, revolting, unthinkable fact, was forced to inquire itself what were its proper resources and to find their bounds ; it was forced to follow a precise attitude, exterior to itself, in order to go on to confront whatever exceeded these bounds. Surrealist activity at this minute entered into its concluding stage. It all of a sudden experienced the necessity of traversing over the spread that separates absolute idealism from dialectical philistinism.
As a life motion, that is to state a motion undergoing a changeless procedure of going and, what is more, solidly trusting on concrete facts, surrealism has brought together and is still conveying together diverse dispositions separately obeying or defying a assortment of sets. The determiner of their enduring or ephemeral attachment is non to be considered as a unsighted grant to an inert stock of thoughts held in common, but as a uninterrupted sequence of Acts of the Apostless which, impeling the actor to more or less distant points, forces him for each fresh start to return to the same starting-line. These exercises non being without hazard, one adult male may interrupt a limb or & # 8211 ; for which there is no case in point & # 8211 ; his caput, another may pacifically submerse himself in a morass or study himself deceasing of weariness. Unable as yet to handle itself to an ambulance, surrealism merely leaves these persons by the roadside. Those who continue in the ranks are cognizant of class of the casualties left behind them. But what of it? The necessity is ever to look in front, to stay certain that one has non forfeited the combustion desire for beauty, truth and justness, to travel onwards towards the find, one by one, of fresh landscapes, and to go on making so indefinitely and without coercion to the terminal, that others may afterwards go the same religious route, unhampered and in all security.
The development of surrealism throughout the decennaries of its being is, we take it, a map of the unrolling of historical worlds as these may be speeded up between the period of alleviation which follows the decision of a peace and the fresh eruption of war. It is besides a map of the procedure of seeking after new values in order to corroborate or annul existing 1s
It was in 1919, in complete purdah and at the attack of slumber, that my attending was arrested by sentences more or less complete, which became perceptible to my head without my being able to detect ( even by really punctilious analysis ) any possible old volitional attempt. One eventide in peculiar, as I was about to fall asleep, I became cognizant of a sentence articulated clearly to a point excepting all possibility of change and stripped of all quality of vocal sound ; a funny kind of sentence which came to me bearing & # 8211 ; in sober truth & # 8211 ; non a hint of any relation whatever to any incidents I may at that clip have been involved in ; an repetitive sentence, it seemed to me, a sentence I might state, that knocked at the window. I was prepared to pay no farther attending to it when the organic character of the sentence detained me. I was truly bewildered. Unfortunately, I am unable to retrieve the exact sentence at this distance, but it ran about like this:
& # 8220 ; A adult male is cut in half by the window. & # 8221 ;
What made it plainer was the fact that it was accompanied by a lame ocular representation of a adult male in the procedure of walking, but cloven, at half his tallness, by a window perpendicular to the axis of his organic structure. Decidedly, there was the signifier, re-erected against infinite, of a adult male tilting out of a window. But the window following the adult male & # 8217 ; s motive power, I understood that I was covering with an image of great rareness. Immediately the thought came to me to utilize it as stuff for poetic building. I had no earlier invested it with that quality, than it had given topographic point to a sequence of all but intermittent sentences which left me no less amazed, but in a province, I would state, of utmost withdrawal.
The word & # 8220 ; surrealism & # 8221 ; holding thereupon become descriptive of the generalizable project to which we had devoted ourselves, I thought it indispensable, in 1924, to specify this word one time and for all:
Pure psychic automatism, by which it is intended to show, verbally, in authorship, or by other agencies, the existent procedure of idea. Thought & # 8217 ; s command, in the absence of all control exercised by the ground and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupations.
Surrealism remainders in the belief in the superior world of certain signifiers of association neglected so far ; in the omnipotence of the dream and in the disinterested drama of idea. It tends decidedly to make away with all other psychic mechanisms and to replace itself for them in the solution of the chief jobs of life.