By David Drake (auth.)
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Extra info for Intellectuals and Politics in Post-War France
Revolutionaries like Blanqui, Benjamin, Trotsky, or Guevara, he writes, have an acute consciousness of peril, a sense of the recurrence of disaster. Nothing is more foreign to the melancholic revolutionary than a paralyzing faith in inevitable progress and a guaranteed future. Although they are pessimists, they refuse to surrender, to give in. Their utopia is the principle of resistance to inevitable catastrophe (Bensaïd 1997). If Marxism was a decisive aspect of the political itinerary of Surrealism—especially during the ﬁrst twenty years of the movement—it is far from the only one.
14 morning star Kathleen Fox, Mémoire liquide (Liquid Memory), 1999 (detail). One hundred ﬁfty years later, the Surrealists stirred those embers anew, illuminating the cave at the heart of darkness. For Breton and his friends, myth was a crystal of precious ﬁre; they refused to abandon it to fascist mythomaniacs. ⁵ The importance of myth to the Surrealists lies also in the fact that it constitutes (along with the esoteric traditions) a profane alternative to the irrational grip of religion. It is in this sense that we must interpret Breton’s remark (often taken as a provocative and iconoclastic statement) in the dedication of a 15 morning star copy of Mad Love sent to his friend Armand Hoog: “Let’s demolish the churches, starting with the most beautiful, so that no stone remains unturned.
Surrealism is not, has never been, and will never be a literary or artistic school but is a movement of the human spirit in revolt and an eminently subversive attempt to reenchant the world: an attempt to reestablish the “enchanted” dimensions at the core of human existence—poetry, passion, mad love, imagination, magic, myth, the marvelous, dreams, revolt, utopian ideals—which have been eradicated by this civilization and its values. In other words, Surrealism is a protest against narrow-minded rationality, the commercialization of life, petty thinking, and the boring realism of our money-dominated, industrial society.
Intellectuals and Politics in Post-War France by David Drake (auth.)