A Cavalier History of Surrealism
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A down-and-dirty survey of the surrealist movement written by leading situationist theorist Raoul Vaneigem. Vaneigem’s sketch bars no holds, blistering on surrealism’s artistic and political aporias, and packed with telling quotations, it gives respect where respect is due, shedding a great deal of light on situationist attitudes, negative and positive, towards their surrealist predecessors.
divine myth, or out of the contradictions of the bour geoisie (liberalism), or by way of the deformation of revolutionary theories (that is, theories thrown up by real struggles which feed back into those struggles and hasten the advent of a classless society by remaining necessarily opposed to all ideology). That common trait is the same dissimulation or distortion, the same dep recation or misapprehension, of the real movement that arises from human praxis. The radical consciousness cannot be
it to do so. The choice of l i fe , i f not restricted to the role of nourishing lit erary or p ictorial forms of expression, to the world of images, analo gies, metaphors or trick words, is thus apt to lead to an incipient practice, to an embryonic science of man that is stripped of all pos i tivism , as far removed as can be imagi ned from the specialized atti tude of the "scientist", and i nhabited by a desire to experiment in every direction , and to document all such experimentation to
in his Supplement aux Lcttres de Rodez, Artaud proclaimed: "As for me, Artaud, I have no use for God, and I refuse to countenance anyone's founding a religion on my backbone or o n m y brai n . " This pronouncement d i d n o t prevent a few rumour- m o n gers from putting i t about that Artaud had undergon e a convers i o n . It was against this calumny, t h e model for which Paul Claude! had supplied with his attempt to co-opt Rimbaud, and versions of which had recently been directed in an
equally outrageous manner at de Sade and Nietzsche, that the Surrealist pamphlet of 1 948, A la n iche les glapisseurs de Dieu! [Back to the Kennel with God's Yapping Dogs ! ] 121 was a well -justi fied protest. But what is one to th ink of the fact that only shortly afterwards Breton and his frie n ds went along with a bla tant attempt to co-opt Surre a l i s m by the Chri stian Michel Carrouges, with whom they eventual ly broke off solely on the basis o f internal disagreements? The same
laws of the commodity, by everywhere bending beings and things to their will, became cumbersome realities susceptible neither to the authority of a divine providence nor to incorporation into the myth of a transcendent order: realities which the ruling class, if it was not to be borne away by the next revolutionary wave-already incon testably foreshadowed by the Enrages and Babouvists-was now oblig ed at all costs to conceal from the consciousness of the proletariat. Out of the relics of myth,