Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

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Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby American Dream » Sat Jul 07, 2018 1:50 pm

Manifesto: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Breton/ Trotsky (1938)

We can say without exaggeration that never before has civilization been menaced so seriously as today. The Vandals, with instruments which were barbarous, and so comparatively ineffective, blotted out the culture of antiquity in one corner of Europe. But today we see world civilization, united in its historic destiny, reeling under the blows of reactionary forces armed with the entire arsenal of modern technology. We are by no means thinking only of the world war that draws near. Even in times of “peace,” the position of art and science has become absolutely intolerable.

Insofar as it originates with an individual, insofar as it brings into play subjective talents to create something which brings about an objective enriching of culture, any philosophical, sociological, scientific, or artistic discovery seems to be the fruit of a precious chance, that is to say, the manifestation, more or less spontaneous, of necessity. Such creations cannot be slighted, whether from the standpoint of general knowledge (which interprets the existing world), or of revolutionary knowledge (which, to change the world for the better, requires an exact analysis of the laws which govern its movement). Specifically, we cannot remain indifferent to the intellectual conditions under which creative activity take place, nor should we fail to pay all respect to those particular laws which govern intellectual creation.

In the contemporary world we must recognize the ever more widespread destruction of those conditions under which intellectual creation is possible. From this follows of necessity an increasingly manifest degradation not only of the work of art but also of the specifically “artistic” personality. The regime of Hitler, now that it has rid Germany of all those artists whose work expressed the slightest sympathy for liberty, however superficial, has reduced those who still consent to take up pen or brush to the statues of domestic servants of the regime, whose task it is to glorify it on order, according to the worst possible aesthetic conventions. If reports may be believed, it is the same in the Soviet Union, where Thermidorean reaction is now reaching its climax.

It goes without saying that we do not identify ourselves with the currently fashionable catchword: “Neither fascism nor communism!” a shibboleth which suits the temperament of the Philistine, conservative and frightened, clinging to the tattered remnants of the “democratic” past. True art, which is not content to play variations on ready-made models but rather insists on expressing the inner needs of man and mankind in its time--true art is unable not to be revolutionary, not to aspire to a complete and radical reconstruction of society. This it must do, were it only to deliver intellectual creation from the chains which bind it, and to allow all mankind to raise itself to those heights which only isolated geniuses have achieved in the past. We recognize that only the social revolution can sweep clear the path for a new culture. If, however, we reject all solidarity with the bureaucracy now in control of the Soviet Union, it is precisely because, in our eyes, it represents not communism but its most treacherous and dangerous enemy.

The totalitarian regime of the U.S.S.R., working through the so-called “cultural” organizations it controls in other countries, has spread over the entire world a deep twilight hostile to ever sort of spiritual value. A twilight of filth and blood in which, disguised as intellectuals and artists, those men steep themselves who have made servility a career, of lying for pay a custom, and of the palliation of crime a source of pleasure. The official art of Stalinism mirrors with a blatancy unexampled in history their efforts to put a good face on their mercenary profession.

The repugnance which this shameful negation of the principles of art inspires in the artistic world--a negation which even slave states have never dared carry so far--should give rise to an active, uncompromising condemnation. The opposition of writers and artists is one of the forces which can usefully contribute to the discrediting and overthrow of regimes which are destroying, along with the right of the proletariat to aspire to a better world, every sentiment of nobility and even human dignity.

The communist revolution is not afraid of art. It realizes that the role of the artist in a decadent capitalist society is determined by the conflict between the individual and various social forms which are hostile to him. This fact alone, insofar as he is conscious of it, makes the artist the natural ally of revolution. The process of sublimation, which here comes into play, and which psychoanalysis has analyzed, tries to restore the broken equilibrium between the integral “ego” and the outside elements it rejects. This restoration works to the advantage of the “ideal of self,” which marshals against the unbearable present reality all those powers of the interior world, of the “self,” which are common to all men and which are constantly flowering and developing. The need for emancipation felt by the individual spirit has only to follow its natural course to be led to mingle its stream with this primeval necessity: the need for the emancipation of man.

The conception of the writer’s function which the young Marx worked out is worth recalling. “The writer,” he declared, “naturally must take money in order to live and write, but he should not under any circumstances live and write in order to make money. The writer by no means looks at his work as a means. It is an end in itself and so little a means in the eyes of himself and of others that if necessary he sacrifices his existence to the existence of his work....The first condition of the freedom of the press is that it is not a business activity.” It is more than ever fitting to use this statement against those who would regiment intellectual activity in the direction of end foreign to itself, and prescribe, in the guise of so-called “reasons of State,” the themes of art. The free choice of these themes and the absence of all restrictions on the range of his explorations--these are possessions which the artist has a right to claim as inalienable. In the realm of artistic creation, the imagination must escape from all constraint and must, under no pretext, allow itself to be placed under bonds. To those who would urge us, whether for today or for tomorrow, to consent that art should submit to a discipline which we hold to be radically incompatible with its nature, we give a flat refusal, and we repeat our deliberate intention of standing by the formula: complete freedom for art.

We recognize, of course, that the revolutionary State has the right to defend itself against the counterattack of the bourgeoisie, even when this drapes itself in the flag of science or art. But there is an abyss between these enforced and temporary measures of revolutionary self-defense and the pretension to lay commands on intellectual creation. If, for the better development of the forces of material production, the revolution must build a socialist regime with centralized control, to develop intellectual creation an anarchist regime of individual liberty should from the first be established. No authority, no dictation, not the least trace of orders from above! Only on a base of friendly cooperation, without the constraint from the outside, will it be possible for scholars and artists to carry out their tasks, which will be more far-reaching than ever before in history.

It should be clear by now that in defending freedom of thought we have no intention of justifying political indifference, and that it is far from our wish to revive a so-called “pure” art which generally serves the extremely impure ends of reaction. No, our conception of the role of art is too high to refuse it an influence on the fate of society. We believe that the supreme task of art in our epoch is to take part actively and consciously in the preparation of the revolution. But the artist cannot serve the struggle for freedom unless he subjectively assimilates its social content, unless he feels in his very nerves its meaning and drama and freely seeks to give his own inner world incarnation in his art.

In the present period of the death agony of capitalism, democratic as well as fascist, the artist sees himself threatened with the loss of his right to live and continue working. He sees all avenues of communication choked with the debris of capitalist collapse. Only naturally, he turns to the Stalinist organizations, which hold out the possibility of escaping from his isolation. But if he is to avoid complete demoralization, he cannot remain there, because of the impossibility of delivering his own message and the degrading servility which these organizations exact from him in exchange for certain material advantages. He must understand that his place is elsewhere, not among those who betray the cause of the revolution and of mankind, but among those who with unshaken fidelity bear witness to this revolution, among those who, for this reason, are alone able to bring it to fruition, and along with it the ultimate free expression of all forms of human genius.

The aim of this appeal is to find a common ground on which may be reunited all revolutionary writers and artists, the better to serve the revolution by their art and to defend the liberty of that art itself against the usurpers of the revolution. We believe that aesthetic, philosophical, and political tendencies of the most varied sort can find here a common ground. Marxists can march here hand in hand with anarchists, provided both parties uncompromisingly reject the reactionary police-patrol spirit represented by Joseph Stalin and by his henchman, Garcia Oliver.

We know very well that thousands of isolated thinkers and artists are today scattered throughout the world, their voices drowned out by the loud choruses of well-disciplined liars. Hundreds of small local magazines are trying to gather youthful forces about them, seeking new paths and not subsidies. Every progressive tendency in art is destroyed by fascism as “degenerate.” Every free creation is called “fascist” by the Stalinists. Independent revolutionary art must now gather its forces for the struggle against reactionary persecution. It must proclaim aloud its right to exist. Such a union of forces is the aim of the International Federation of Independent Revolutionary Art which we believe it is now necessary to form.

We by no means insist on every idea put forth in this manifesto, which we ourselves consider only a first step in the new direction. We urge every friend and defender of art, who cannot but realize the necessity for this appeal, to make himself heard at once. We address the same appeal to all those publications of the left-wing which are ready to participate in the creation of the International Federation and to consider its task and methods of action.
When a preliminary international contract has been established through the press and by correspondence, we will proceed to the organization of local and national congresses on a modest scale. the final step will be the assembling of a world congress which will officially mark the foundation of the International Federation.

Our aims: The independence of art--for the revolution;
The revolution--for the complete liberation of art!
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby American Dream » Sat Jul 07, 2018 1:56 pm

A room with a different view:

1919-1950: The politics of Surrealism

Image

A history of Surrealism and its links with politics and, in particular, anarchism and socialism.


It's noticeable how mainstream writers writing about Surrealism play down the politics. For example in the massive book on Breton, Revolution and the Mind: The Life of Andre Breton the author Mark Polizzotti passes over the links beween Surrealism and anarchism in a couple of sentences . This despite the signal devotion of Breton in showing solidarity, as one of a few intellectuals to support the libertarian movement in a period of repression. and despite the fact that the Surrealists wrote a weekly column for Le Libertaire, a paper with not an inconsiderable readership.

"It was in the black mirror of anarchism that surrealism first recognised itself." Thus wrote unequivocally the "Pope of Surrealism", Andre Breton in 1952. Breton had returned to France in 1947 and in April of that year Andre Julien welcomed his return in the pages of Le Libertaire the weekly paper of the Federation Anarchiste.

But why had not the Surrealists associated themselves before 1947 with the ideas of revolutionary anarchism? This radical art movement which had a fierce hatred of authority and religion was a natural ally. Indeed the art movement of Dada, in many ways a precursor and influence on Surrealism, had emerged in Zurich in 1916 as a reaction to the savagery and slaughter of the World War. Breton himself was influenced by the poet Jacques Vache whom he met in 1919. Breton was to note in the same 1952 article that: "At that time, the surrealist refusal was total, and absolutely incapable of allowing itself to be channelled at a political level. All the institutions upon which the modern world rested-and which had just shown their worth in the First World War - were considered aberrant and scandalous to us. To begin with, it was the entire defence apparatus of society that we were attacking: the army, ‘justice’, the police, religion, psychiatric and legal medicine, and schooling". He went on to demand: "Why was an organic fusion not operated at this moment between anarchist and surrealist elements?" and explained " It was undoubtedly the idea of efficiency, which was the delusion of that period, that decided otherwise. What we took to be the triumph of the Russian Revolution and the advent of a workers' state led to a great change in our outlook. The only dark spot in the picture - which became an indelible stain - was the crushing of the Kronstadt insurrection of 18 March 1921."

Solidarity
The surrealists had not hesitated in 1923 in showing solidarity with the young anarchist woman Germaine Berton who had killed an activist of the extreme right nationalist party L'Action Francaise and who was aqcquitted in a jury trial! Another member of the surrealist group, Robert Desnos, had associated with the individualist anarchist circles of Victor Serge and Rirette Maitrejean, whilst according to a police record, the surrealist poet Benjamin Peret had been active in an anarchist group in the Paris region and had contributed to the anarchist paper Le Libertaire. All the surrealists attentively read the anarchist press in this period. However, they were put off by the incoherence of the French movement and remembered how some had supported the Allied effort in the World War. When Breton took over as editor of the review La Revolution Surrealiste from Antonin Artaud he wrote most of the collective texts like the revolutionary Open the Prisons! Disband the Armies!

The Surrealists also leapt to the defence of the young woman Violette Noziere who had poisoned her father. Violette accused her father of having systematically raped her from the age of 12. The Surrealists used the trial to denounce the bourgeois family and bourgeois hypocrisy.

In January 1927 5 members of the Surrealist group joined the Communist Party: Breton, Aragon, Eluard, Unik and Peret. Others, like Desnos and Miro refused to join. Even with Breton, Party membership was with qualifications. He saw the Communist programme as only a minimum programme, and criticised the Party paper as "Puerile, uselessly declamatory, cretinous, unreadable; completely unworthy of the role of proletarian education that it tries to assume". Whilst Aragon transformed from the "most libertarian spirit of the Surrealist group" into a horrific Stalinist hack who wrote poems honouring the Russian secret police the NKVD, others who had joined the Party began to feel distinctly uncomfortable about the Moscow show trials. It was a stormy period for the Surrealists as they tried to participate as they saw it in the workers' revolution, whilst at the same time safeguarding their own specific preoccupations, and fighting against the Party leadership's attempts to keep them on a tight rein. Breton was expelled in 1933, and at a Party-controlled International Congress for the Defence of Culture the Surrealists were denounced and were only allowed to speak on the last day at 2 in the morning!

Trotsky
By now some of the Surrealists were allying with Trotskyism and oppositional Bolshevism. Peret made contact in France and Brazil with the Communist Union and the Internationalist Workers Party. Breton made contact in Mexico with Trotsky when he was put in charge of a series of conferences at Mexico University on Poetry and Painting in Europe in 1938. Together with Trotsky and the Mexican painter Diego Rivera he drafted For an Independent Revolutionary Art which announced that "The revolution is obliged to erect a socialist regime with central planning; for intellectual creation it must, even from the start, establish an anarchist regime of intellectual liberty. No constraint, not the least trace of command". This contradictory and bizarre document seems to have been written by Breton and amazingly Trotsky, with Rivera substituting for Trotsky's signature when he got cold feet. It is not clear when Trotsky helped write this document what he thought he was doing, as it went against everything he had ever done or said.

Durruti
Peret for his part had gone as delegate of the Internationalist Workers Party to the Civil War and Revolution in Spain. Here he worked as a radio broadcaster for the anti-Stalinist Marxist party the POUM, but left this post when he criticised this organisation for participating in the Catalan government. He joined the anarchist Durruti Column on the Aragon front. "All collaboration with the POUM was impossible, they wanted very much to accept people to their right, but not to their left. I have decided to enter into an anarchist militia, and here I am at the front, at Pino de Ebro", he wrote to Breton. Two years later he paid tribute to Buenaventura Durruti, after whom the Column was named. "I have always seen in Durruti the most revolutionary anarchist leader, whose attitude was most violently opposed to the capitulations of the anarchists who had entered the government and his killing moved me very much. I think that the lesson that was the life of Durruti should not be lost." Returning to France, he was called up at the start of the war. He was arrested for distribution of leaflets of "an anarchist character" and after a prison term managed to escape to Mexico. Here he undertook a thoroughgoing critique of Trotskyism and distanced himself from its organisations. Writing later in a letter to Georges Fontenis, the French libertarian communist militant, he remarked: "If the disappearance of the State can not be envisaged in the immediate, it is no less true that the proletarian insurrection must mark the the first day of the death agony of the State".

Arrogance
After the War the Surrealists began to collaborate with the Federation Anarchiste. Fontenis and another militant of the FA, Serge Ninn, maintained good contacts with the Surrealists, the former becoming a friend of Breton. In 1951, the Surrealist started to write a regular weekly column in Le Libertaire - Le Billet Surrealiste. A series of articles by Peret were also published in Le Libertaire which characterised the unions as counter-revolutionary organisms and put forward workers councils as an alternative. The FA were in disagreement with him on this and published a reply in the paper. Peret was certainly in advance of French anarchists on this question. The controversy here was fraternal, but in a later Billet the Surrealist Jean Schuster insisted that the Surrealists should take charge of the intellectual struggle, whilst the anarchists got on with the economic and social struggle. This elitist arrogance stirred up a lot of trouble, and the relationship between the Surrealists and the anarchists began to cool and the last Billet appeared in Le Libertaire in January 1953.

The article Poet, that is to say Revolutionary written by Peret, the most politicised and revolutionary of the Surrealists, that appeared in the paper in 1951 said the essential. He showed up to what point poetry is revolutionary but he added: "It does not follow that the (the poet) puts poetry at the service of political action, even if it is revolutionary," (Which was certainly never the wish of the anarchist militants of the period) . "But his quality of poet makes him a revolutionary who must struggle on every terrain: that of poetry by his own means and on the terrain of social action , without ever confusing the two fields of action".

Synthesis
Apart from Breton and Peret the other Surrealists were never seen on the field of social action. Breton was consistent in his support for the Federation Anarchiste and he continued to offer his solidarity after the Platformists around Fontenis transformed the FA into the Federation Communiste Libertaire. He was one of the few intellectuals who continued to offer his support to the FCL during the Algerian war when the FCL suffered severe repression and was forced underground. He sheltered Fontenis whilst he was in hiding. He refused to take sides on the splits in the French anarchist movement and both he and Peret expressed solidarity as well with the new FA set up by the synthesist anarchists and worked in the Antifascist Committees of the 60s alongside the FA.

Some were able to synthesise anarchism and Surrealism on an individual level even if it had not happened on a collective level.The poet Jehan Mayoux, great friend of Peret, the son of anarchists and anti-militarists, joined the Surrealists at the end of the 20s. Called up at the start of the war, he went AWOL and was imprisoned. Escaping, he was captured by the Germans and sent to a concentration camp from which he was liberated in 1945. He continued to take part in libertarian activity up to his death. Jean-Claude Tertrais participated in Surrealist activities in the 50s whilst Breton was still alive. Called up during the Algerian war, he went AWOL and was sent to the hellish "Disciplinary Battalions". He joined the FA on his release, contributing articles on surrealism to the FA paper Le Monde Libertaire.

However, as Fontenis was to remark: "It is true that, too often, poets are just poets, without being really revolutionary, no insult to B. Peret intended, and if sometimes they attach themselves to the movement of the masses they often fixate on individual high deeds, on spectacular subversion, on illegalist deeds, rather than on the hard daily struggles... As much as it is preferable that the libertarian movement stays intimately linked to the spirit of revolt of the poets, as much it is prejudicial to subject its revolutionary views to the fantasies of men of letters. Yes to implacable revolt, yes to insurrection, yes to the libertarian spirit... but is this a reason to leave on the side the anarchist thought and the class action that nourishes it and that it inspires?".

Further notes
Other criticisms can be made of Surrealism - the individual intolerance and authoritarianism of Breton, the sexism and homophobia, the cold Freudianism, the dubious celebration of sexual violence - but that would require an article in itself.

Whatever you do read Breton's Claire Tour - his enthusiastic ode to anarchism. It's been translated into English as The Lighthouse in the Drunken Boat, an anthology of writings on anarchism and art available from Freedom and AK Press.

By Nick Heath, edited by libcom

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https://libcom.org/history/articles/surrealism-politics
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby dada » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:37 am

Been thinking about how "The revolution will not be televised" means more than simply the networks ignoring protests, criticizing strikes. That too, sure. It means the revolution is not a spectatorship. One can't consume it.

So with that in mind, I wonder if it is possible to conceive that the revolution will not be live-streamed. You can't like it on social media. I'm saying the revolution is not on the internet, my sisters and brothers and all ze others.

Am I suggesting that revolution and the internet are incompatible? Yes.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure, here are some selections from "Benjamin on Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia (1929)"
http://www.generation-online.org/c/fcsurrealism.htm

Presented in decontextualized fragment-o-vision. Catch it now, before it sinks like a stone, right off the front page. Like a snitch in cement shoes. A shooting star. (That last one is a romantic metaphor, for all you lovers out there.)

...[we are] long aquainted with the crisis of the intelligentsia - or, more precisely, that of the humanistic concept of freedom - and know how frantic is the determination that has awakened in the movement [of revolutionary art] to go beyond the stage of eternal discussion and, at any price, to reach a decision.

Can the point at issue be more definitively and incisively presented than by Rimbaud himself in his personal copy of the book [Saison en enfer]? In the margin, beside the passage 'on the silk of the seas and the arctic flowers', he later wrote, 'There's no such thing.'

there is no doubt that the heroic phase, whose catalogue of heroes Aragon left us in that work [Vague de reves], is over.

There is always... a moment when the original tension of the secret society must either explode in a matter-of-fact, profane struggle for power and domination, or decay as a public demonstration and be transformed.

In the world's structure dream loosens individuality like a bad tooth.

This loosening of the self by intoxication is, at the same time, precisely the fruitful, living experience that allowed these people to step outside the domain of intoxication.

This is not the place to give an exact definition of Surrealist experience. But anyone who has perceived that the writings of this circle are not literature but something else - demonstrations, watchwords, documents, bluffs, forgeries if you will, but at any rate not literature - will also know, for the same reason, that the writings are concerned literally with experiences, not with theories and still less with phantasms. And these experiences are by no means limited to dreams, hours of hashish eating, or opium smoking.

the true creative overcoming of religious illumination certainly does not lie in narcotics. It resides in a profane illumination, a materialistic, anthropological inspiration, to which hashish, opium, or whatever else can give an introductory lesson.

'The thought of all human activity makes me laugh.' This 'utterance of Aragon's shows very clearly the path Surrealism had to follow from its origins to its politicization. In his excellent essay 'La revolution et les intellectuels', Pierre Naville, who originally belonged to this group, rightly called this development dialectical. In the transformation of a highly contemplative attitude into revolutionary opposition, the hostility of the bourgeoisie toward every manifestation of radical intellectual freedom played a leading part. This hostility pushed Surrealism to the left. Political events, above all the war in Morocco, accelerated this development. With the manifesto 'Intellectuals Against the Moroccan War', which appeared in L'Humanite, a fundamentally different platform was gained from that which was characterized by, for example, the famous scandal at the Saint-Pol-Roux banquet. At that time, shortly after the war, when the Surrealists, who deemed the celebration for a poet they worshipped compromised by the presence of nationalistic elements, burst out with the cry 'Long live Germany', they remained within the boundaries of scandal, toward which, as is known, the bourgeoisie is as thick-skinned as it is sensitive to all action.

There is remarkable agreement between the ways in which, under such political auspices, Apollinaire and Aragon saw the future of the poet. The chapters 'Persecution' and 'Murder' in Apollinaire's Poete assassine contain the famous description of a pogrom against poets. Publishing houses are stormed, books of poems thrown on the fire, poets lynched. And the same scenes are taking place at the same time all over the world. In Aragon, 'Imagination', in anticipation of such horrors, calls its company to a last crusade.

To understand such prophecies, and to assess strategically the line arrived at by Surrealism, one must investigate the mode of thought widespread among the so-called well-meaning left-wing bourgeois intelligentsia.

How difficult to bear is the strained uprightness, the forced animation and sincerity of the Protestant method, dictated by embarrassment and linguistic ignorance, of placing things in some kind of symbolic illumination. "the true, deeper revolution, which could in some sense transform the substance of the Slavonic soul itself, has not yet taken place." - Duhamel. It is typical of these left-wing French intellectuals - exactly as it is of their Russian counterparts, too - that their positive function derives entirely from a feeling of obligation, not to the Revolution, but to traditional culture. Their collective achievement, as far as it is positive, approximates conservation. But politically and economically they must always be considered a potential source of sabotage.

Since Bakunin, Europe has lacked a radical concept of freedom. The Surrealists have one. They are the first to liquidate the sclerotic liberal-moral-humanistic ideal of freedom, because they are convinced that 'freedom, which on this earth can only be bought with a thousand of the hardest sacrifices, must be enjoyed unrestrictedly in its fullness without any kind of pragmatic calculation, as long as it lasts.' And this proves to them that 'mankind's struggle for liberation in its simplest revolutionary form (which, however, is liberation in every respect), remains the only cause worth serving.' But are they successful in welding this experience of freedom to the other revolutionary experience that we have to acknowledge because it has been ours, the constructive, dictatorial side of revolution? In short, have they bound revolt to revolution?

To win the energies of intoxication for the revolution, this is the project about which Surrealism circles in all its books and enterprises. This it may call its most particular task. For them it is not enough that, as we know, an ecstatic component lives in every revolutionary act. This component is identical with the anarchic. But to place the accent exclusively on it would be to subordinate the methodical and disciplinary preparation for revolution entirely to a praxis oscillating between fitness exercises and celebration in advance. Added to this is an inadequate, undialectical conception of the nature of intoxication. The aesthetic of the painter, the poet, en etat de surprise, of art as the reaction of one surprised, is enmeshed in a number of pernicious romantic prejudices.

The most passionate investigation of telepathic phenomena will not teach us half as much about reading (which is an eminently telepathic process), as the profane illumination of reading about telepathic phenomena. And the most passionate investigation of the hashish trance will not teach us half as much about thinking (which is eminently narcotic), as the profane illumination of thinking about the hashish trance. The reader, the thinker, the loiterer, the flaneur, are types of illuminati just as much as the opium eater, the dreamer, the ecstatic. And more profane. Not to mention that most terrible drug 'ourselves' which we take in solitude.

To win the energies of intoxication for the revolution. "In other words, poetic politics? We have tried that beverage. Anything, rather than that!" Well, it will interest you all the more how much an excursion into poetry clarifies things. For what is the programme of the bourgeois parties? A bad poem on springtime, filled to bursting with metaphors. The socialist sees that 'finer future of our children and grandchildren' in a condition in which all act 'as if they were angels', and everyone has as much 'as if he were rich', and everyone lives 'as if he were free'. Of angels, wealth, freedom, not a trace. These are mere images.

And the stock imagery of these poets of the social-democratic associations? Their gradus ad parnassum? Optimism. A very different air is breathed in the Naville essay that makes the 'organization of pessimism' the call of the hour. In the name of his literary friends he delivers an ultimatum in face of which this unprincipled, dilettantish optimism must unfailingly show its true colours: where are the conditions for revolution? In the changing of attitudes or of external circumstances? That is the cardinal question that determines the relation of politics to morality and cannot be glossed over. Surrealism has come ever closer to the Communist answer. And that means pessimism all along the line. Absolutely. Mistrust in the fate of literature, mistrust in the fate of freedom, mistrust in the fate of European humanity, but three times mistrust in all reconciliation: between classes, between nations, between individuals. And unlimited trust only in I. G. Farben and the peaceful perfection of the air force. But what now, what next?

Here due weight must be given to the insight that in the Traite du style, Aragon's last book, required in distinction between metaphor and image, a happy insight into questions of style that needs extending.

Extension: nowhere do these two 'metaphor and image' collide so drastically and so irreconcilably as in politics. For to organize pessimism means nothing other than to expel moral metaphor from politics and to discover in political action a sphere reserved one hundred percent for images. This image sphere, however, can no longer be measured out by contemplation.

If it is the double task of the revolutionary intelligentsia to overthrow the intellectual predominance of the bourgeoisie and to make contact with the proletarian masses, the intelligentsia has failed almost entirely in the second part of this task because it can no longer be performed contemplatively. And yet this has hindered hardly anybody from approaching it again and again as if it could, and calling for proletarian poets, thinkers, and artists. To counter this, Trotsky had to point out as early as 'Literature and Revolution' that such artists would only emerge from a victorious revolution. In reality it is far less a matter of making the artist of bourgeois origin into a master of 'proletarian art' than of deploying him, even at the expense of his artistic activity, at important points in this sphere of imagery. Indeed, might not perhaps the interruption of his 'artistic career' be an essential part of his new function?

The jokes he tells are the better for it. And he tells them better. For in the joke, too, in invective, in misunderstanding, in all cases where an action puts forth its own image and exists, absorbing and consuming it, where nearness looks with its own eyes, the long-sought image sphere is opened, the world of universal and integral actualities, where the 'best room' is missing.The sphere, in a word, in which political materialism and physical nature share the inner man, the psyche, the individual, or whatever else we wish to throw to them, with dialectical justice, so that no limb remains unrent.

Nevertheless, indeed, precisely after such dialectical annihilation this will still be a sphere of images and, more concretely, of bodies. For it must in the end be admitted: metaphysical materialism, of the brand of Vogt and Bukharin, as is attested by the experience of the Surrealists, and earlier of Hebel, Georg Buchner, Nietzsche, and Rimbaud, cannot lead without rupture to anthropological materialism. There is a residue. The collective is a body, too. And the physis that is being organized for it in technology can, through all its political and factual reality, only be produced in that image sphere to which profane illumination initiates us. Only when in technology body and image so interpenetrate that all revolutionary tension becomes bodily collective innervation, and all the bodily innervations of the collective become revolutionary discharge, has reality transcended itself to the extent demanded by the Communist Manifesto. For the moment, only the Surrealists have understood its present commands. They exchange, to a man, the play of human features for the face of an alarm clock that in each minute rings for sixty seconds.
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby American Dream » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:05 am

I looked for the Revolution everywhere. I found a bar by that name but it smelled funny and was expensive. I took their drugs and I used them real good- didn't know anything about the armies behind them. Was I contaminated, bedazzled, deceived? Probably, but I did remember that the Revolution is a corkscrew tornado that can appear out of nothing and disappear the same. Sometimes those people hanging out all night at City Hall got it going on but am I joining the party? Doubtful, though graffiti and rocks will never be enough.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby Iamwhomiam » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:38 pm

We were over in the hall, conspiring. It was one hell of a party you missed.

https://brownsbrewing.com/revolution-hall/

Seriously though, and you can trust me on this, every daily news cycle carries snippets of the in-progress revolution, but like most revolutions, it takes some time to really pick up steam. You feeling steamed up yet? No? Watch this, all of it, even if it takes two viewing sessions with a good break in between:
Art for art's sake:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B3ZmalJzkc

We'll be meeting again next wednesday - in the Hall - not in the bar; we've got work to do!
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby dada » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:56 pm

No thanks, iamwhoiam. But thanks for the invite. My talents don't really lend themsleves to the fight against Donald. And my heart just isn't in it. Better I leave it to more capable hands. I'll stick to the parts of the revolution I'm good at: abolishing money, time. Tilting at evil windmills, performing long-distance exorcisms, stuff like that. I think that for the revolution to be successful, everyone's got to do what they are best at.
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby American Dream » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:21 am

I might possibly show but I have a short attention span, get restless easily. Some of my best friends do long, drawn-out campaigns- and I'm certainly not against it- but I'm always tryin' a find that sweet spot where direct action can include measured amounts of representation, where meaningful reforms and outright subversion happily coexist, where peaceniks and militants can break bread together.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby Blue » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:24 pm

Your article starts out great, describing the thugs and situation happening in America today, yet written in 1938.

I agree with most of it and would love a leap in the direction of freedom out from underneath the authoritarian capitalism that is sinking America into a 3rd world outpost.

Artists, just like all human beings have been fractured into many pieces so as not to identify with others and join collectives and collective thinking. 20th century artists banded together, protested arrogant shows, became political by nature, etc. Today most artists want money and popularity. Period.

Art for art's sake (and God) is dead.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby American Dream » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:00 pm

I do think there have been moves to co-opt Art these last many decades which have been somewhat effective. Also though, radical artists continue unabated, in whatever fields of struggle they may choose.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby Burnt Hill » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:00 pm

Art and activism can never truly die though.
They have indulged in the narcotic too, and slumber.
Iam and dada's approaches together - if they come together, provide the vehicle for revolutionary change.
That change is not yet fully defined, but it is truth.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby American Dream » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:47 am

These folks draw extremely varied reactions:

THE CHICAGO SURREALIST GROUP – Andrew Joron

Image

But it was above all the founding of the anarchistically inclined I.W.W. union, the Wobblies, in Chicago in 1905 that provides a direct line to the activism of the Chicago Surrealist Group today. Franklin and Penelope Rosemont, the co-founders and most prominent members of the Chicago Surrealist Group, both born and raised in the Chicago area, in their youth participated in labor organizing through the I.W.W. Chicago office. Penelope’s father, as she reports in her new book, “would sing Wobbly songs to wake [her] up in the morning.” Franklin Rosemont’s father was a union activist who has been described as a “working-class intellectual.”

The Wobblies themselves could be described as a working-class intellectual movement; they disdained conventional channels for achieving change, preferring direct action over bargaining with the bosses. Going beyond the purely economic focus of most labor unions, the Wobblies regarded working-class culture––especially the songs and stories of migratory workers who rode the rails––as important forms of resistance. The Wobblies’ emphasis on preserving and promoting the spontaneous creativity of down-and-out workers who were marginalized even within the working class became known as “hobohemianism.” The idea that true cultural creativity is found welling upward from the lower echelons of class society, and the idea that creative activity and oppositional activity are actually one and the same, were positions articulated by the Paris surrealists. But these ideas were already circulating in the U.S. and especially in Chicago thanks to the Wobblies––and the Chicago surrealists, having received this influence starting with their parents, have drawn upon this legacy in developing a surrealist practice with uniquely American roots.

In talking about the Chicago Surrealist Group, I’m mostly going to be focusing on the writings of Franklin and Penelope Rosemont; they are co-founders and in many ways are still the chief instigators. The group eventually expanded beyond Chicago and in this later incarnation has called itself the Surrealist Movement in the United States, and I’ll discuss some aspects of this later incarnation, and the work of some other members, as well. But for now I want to describe the group’s beginnings here in Chicago.

Now, as the youngsters who would later become the Chicago surrealists came of age in the fifties, the early Wobbly influence was supplemented with the influence of Beat literature. The “hobohemianism” of the Wobblies shaded naturally into the Beats’ “on-the-road” philosophy and countercultural critique of American life. As a young man, Franklin Rosemont himself went “on the road” in emulation of the Beats, ending up in San Francisco’s North Beach district for a time. Rosemont at this point was writing Beat-inspired poetry, and was invited by San Francisco poet Bob Kaufman to contribute to the now-famous Beat literary journal Beatitude. And the Beat influence is still visible, and is even still paramount, in the jazzy, often humorous tone and style of the poetry produced by the Chicago Surrealist Group. This may be because at some point in the sixties, the Chicago surrealists consciously and intentionally closed themselves off from engaging with major post-Beat developments in American literature. The Beat moment represents in many ways the last point of contact the Chicago surrealists had with innovative trends in American writing, because from their point of view, such later trends simply lack the revolutionary impetus of jazz and blues and Beat-influenced surrealist poetry.

In the zeitgeist of the fifties and early sixties, there was a natural affinity, recognized by the writers of the time, between the Beats’ rebellion against square, linear, conservative American culture, all in the name of expressing a more primal, libidinally free way of being, and the surrealists’ own rebellion against classical French culture. Both movements locate the source of imagination in convulsive eros, and encourage this source to override all moral, political, and aesthetic strictures on its expression. The synthesis of Beat and surrealist poetics occurs most obviously in the work of Philip Lamantia and Bob Kaufman but the current runs through most of the writers who are now classified as Beats.

It didn’t take long, though, for the alternative-seeking young activists who would later become the Chicago Surrealist Group to see surrealism as the primary element in the swirl of oppositional energy that the group was attracted to­­––a mix that included jazz and blues along with the Beat and Wobbly traditions, and that also included the black intellectual tradition being taught by St. Clair Drake at Roosevelt University, where the core group of the Chicago surrealists first met as students. For a group committed to the synthesis of imagination plus rebellion, surrealism stood out as the general theory that could best comprehend and extend the entire range of practices aimed at opposing and transforming the alienation of capitalist culture in the U.S.

In a way, the Chicago Surrealist Group grew out of the seed of a single phrase, “Elephants are contagious!”, attributed to the French surrealists Benjamin Peret and Paul Eluard, a phrase that Franklin Rosemont discovered in high school in a Reader’s Companion to World Literature entry on surrealism. As Rosemount recounted to Ron Sakolsky, “Those three words opened the door to the wonders and possibilities of language.” In the story Rosemont told to Ron Sakolsky for the Autonomedia anthology Surrealist Subversions, this phrase (“elephants are contagious”) ended up graffittied all over the walls of buildings in Maywood, the Chicago suburb where Rosemont grew up.

However, there is an earlier version of Rosemont’s first encounter with surrealism, in Rosemont’s first book of poetry, The Morning of a Machine Gun. In that book, Rosemont says “I discovered my accord with surrealism after dropping out of high school, when I began to notice that certain ‘chances of everyday life’ corresponded in a seemingly inexplicable fashion with the texts I was then writing. It was at this momemt that I read Andre Breton’s Nadja, which hastened the evolution of my thought.”

In any case, during Rosemont’s “on-the-road” period––on his Beat-inspired hitch-hiking sojourns across the Western U.S. and down into Mexico––he was already sufficiently familiar with the surrealist pantheon to seek out the great surrealist artist Leonora Carrington in Mexico City. It’s well known that Franklin and Penelope Rosemont travelled to France in 1965 to meet Andre Breton, and were welcomed by him into the surrealist movement, and that the Chicago Surrealist Group really was born at that moment, or shortly thereafter. But five years previous to the meeting with Breton, the first surrealist whom Franklin Rosemont met in person was the British expatriate Leonora Carrington in Mexico City. Carrington, for her part, came up to live in Chicago from 1989 to 1992, before returning to Mexico, and she still lives there, age 92. While the Chicago Surrealist Group is known for their fierce adherence to Bretonian principles, they have also described their brand of surrealism as “Carringtonian” as well.

However, it’s hard to see how this description fits very well, because political activism, and the political import of surrealist activity, stands out as a constant theme and overriding concern of the Chicago surrealists, and Carrington’s surrealism could hardly said to be preoccupied by political struggle, except by some kind of distant inference and implication. And the Chicago surrealists’ political practice would be anything but distant and implied. At the foundation of the Chicago group’s practice, as I mentioned, was their involvement with the I.W.W. Rosemont and friends started and ran the I.W.W.’s Solidarity Bookshop here in Chicago from 1964 to about 1974. The bookstore became known as a distribution point for Marxist, anarchist, surrealist, and radical publications of all kinds and also functioned in its way as a community center for radicals and freethinkers. The Solidarity Bookshop and the organization around it really provided the launching pad for the Chicago Surrealist Group, which was officially formed in 1966, shortly after Franklin and Penelope Rosemont returned to Chicago after meeting with Andre Breton in France.

By their own reports, the Rosemonts’ meetings were rather brief­­––Breton was already ill––and limited by language barriers on both sides. Despite the fleeting nature of their contact, the aura around the surrealist leader was, as the Rosemonts perceived it, quite intense. As Franklin Rosemont has written, “Of [the] first meeting with Breton, brief as it was, I retain an image distinct and ineffaceable, as of incidents in life that are larger than life, beyond all expectation, unhoped-for and staggering.” Rosemont also wrote, in his introduction to the compendium What Is Surrealism?, that “[s]ince [Breton] spoke little English, and our knowledge of French was meager at the time, the conversation was in short sentences, aided by translations of several surrealist friends.” Rosemont further testifies that “Although I met with Andre Breton too briefly and have come to know him through his writings, he remains for me [and this next phrase is italicized in the original] the closest of all possible friends.”

It turned out that the Rosemonts had reached out to Breton and the surrealist group in France at the last possible moment, because Breton died in 1966 and the French surrealist group officially dissolved in 1969. But the end of organized surrealist activity in France was the beginning of organized surrealist activity in the U.S., owing to the militant energy of the Chicago Surrealist Group. And the range of their activity became very wide indeed, once the disparate strands of their oppositional political and cultural activities were definitively tied together by surrealism­­––or more precisely by the idea of surrealist revolution. For the Chicago group correctly understood surrealism to be––and this bears repeating––not an art movement but a movement for the transformation of existence through the liberation of desire and imagination. Surrealism understood in this way includes and carries forward the Marxist project, the Freudian project, and the poetic project initiated by Lautreamont and Rimbaud, poets who produced works unfettered by traditional moral and aesthetic concerns. Far from being restricted to aesthetic categories, surrealism is a world view and a way of life, and a way of transforming life on every level, from the personal to the global. And this is the vision that the Chicago group has aspired to, since its formation in 1966.

Of course, this was the sixties, and a lot of different groups were working for revolution at that time, both in the U.S. and internationally. But even after the revolutionary tide receded in the seventies, the Chicago Surrealist Group has persevered until the present day, with no apparent loss of revolutionary zeal.

One very important aspect of the Chicago group’s activity has been the publication and dissemination of surrealist writings––in fact the Chicago group is responsible for making many of the classic texts of French surrealism available in the U.S. for the first time. One very important compendium of these classic texts, over 700 pages long, entitled What Is Surrealism?, was edited by Franklin Rosemont, who also provided a lengthy introduction for the volume. This anthology remains even now one of the best reference points for surrealist writing in the English language. In 1967, the group launched Black Swan Press (named after the black swan in Lautreamont’s proto-surrealist novel Maldoror). The press, which continues to function and which has published hundreds of surrealist and surrealist-related titles, was initially operated out of the Solidarity Bookshop. After the bookstore closed down in the seventies, Black Swan Press relocated but in some ways took over some of the functions of the store, distributing surrealist titles by other publishers as well. Around this time, the Chicago surrealists developed a strong relationship with the radical book publisher Charles H. Kerr here in Chicago. Charles H. Kerr has been publishing a long list of radical labor, anarchist, and Marxist titles since 1886, but its fortunes were on the wane until the connection with the surrealist group revived it. The relationship between Black Swan Press and Charles H. Kerr is so close––there’s even a similar look to the design of Black Swan and Charles H. Kerr titles––that they appear to be two wings of the same publishing operation.

The Chicago Surrealist Group is engaged not only in book production but also puts out a magazine, entitled Arsenal: Surrealist Subversion. Only four issues have came out, to my knowledge; the first issue was published in 1970 and the last one in 1989. It’s a large-format journal, heavily illustrated, and jam-packed with classic and contemporary writings by surrealists from all over the world. The journal (it’s really more of an anthology series than a magazine) also includes samplings from old-time popular culture, such as blues lyrics, that the surrealists find compatible with their project, as well as work by forgotten or neglected “outsider” artists and poets. Arsenal also features, as one would expect, a lot of work by the Chicago surrealists themselves: visual art, poems, pronouncements, manifestoes, and the like.

In a manifesto published in the very first issue of Arsenal in 1970, Franklin Rosemont declared, “What remains for surrealism to do far exceeds what surrealism has done.” Well, it’s almost forty years later, and despite vigorous activity by the Chicago Surrealist Group on multiple political and cultural fronts, including the mounting of an International Surrealist Exhibition here in Chicago in 1976, it can’t yet be said that what surrealism has done in the U.S. after 1970 far exceeds what was accomplished in Europe before 1970. That’s not to say that the Surrealist Movement in the U.S., which is another name that the Chicago group goes by, hasn’t accomplished a lot: in addition to their tireless political agitation, they’ve ardently promoted, through publications and events, the classic concepts of Bretonian surrealism here in the U.S., and sought to embody these principles in their own practice and poetry.

Looking back on these accomplishments, we can say that what the Chicago surrealists have produced was not only inspired by, but bears a strong family resemblance to, the work of the Paris surrealists. So strong that the word “imitative” might be applied by an ungenerous critic. Ron Sakolsky, who is a sympathetic commentator, has described Arsenal as having “typographical excellence, a distinctive design, and a special tone of its own.” In fact, however, the typography, design and tone of Arsenal is not entirely its own, but instead loudly echoes the typography, design, and tone of the French surrealist journal of the 1930s, Surrealism in the Service of the Revolution. This echo-effect is clearly no accident, but a deliberate act of homage or (again, to an ungenerous eye) imitation.

In other words, surrealism in the U.S. appears to be a perpetuation of French surrealism. The distinction between U.S. and French surrealism then corresponds to the distinction Thomas Kuhn makes, in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, between normal and revolutionary science. Revolutionary science involves a paradigm shift, while normal science perpetuates a given paradigm, at most expanding it to cover new content.

One way that the Chicago group has expanded the original program of French surrealism is to seek out what they call the “popular accomplices” of surrealism in the U.S. These “accomplices,” it turns out, mostly belong to old-time culture: pulp magazines, Bugs Bunny, radio voices, flying saucers, Krazy Kat comics, and blues singers of a bygone era, exemplars of what Greil Marcus, in the context of folk music, has called “old weird America.” After the sixties, there doesn’t seem to have been much in American popular culture worth rescuing from a surrealist perspective.

The French surrealists, for their part, were also attracted to outmoded cultural artifacts. As Walter Benjamin pointed out in his essay on surrealism (and I quote), the Parisian surrealists were the “first to perceive the revolutionary energies that appear in the ‘outmoded,’ in the first iron constructions, the first factory buildings, the earliest photos, the objects that have begun to be extinct, grand pianos, the dresses of five years ago, fashionable restaurants when the vogue has begun to ebb from them.” I’m not sure if Benjamin was being a bit ironic here, when he wants to perceive “revolutionary energies” in five-year-old dresses and once-fashionable restaurants. But his point still stands. In Marxist terms, the use-value of things only becomes apparent once things have been emancipated from the cash nexus of exchange value; discarded things therefore are most susceptible to the imaginative redemption of their use value. Such discarded and outmoded things correspond to what, in Freudian terms, is called “the day’s residues,” experiences that sink into our unconscious at evening to be processed by the dream-work. In this analogy, outmoded cultural artifacts are like “history’s residues,” products of industrial civilization that end up tossed aside and buried by the very civilization that produced them, sinking to a more primitive, pre-civilized level of meaning that only the surrealist method, schooled in dreams, can access.

Surrealists, both French and American, put a lot of faith in the idea that when things get pulled out of the unconscious, they enter consciousness with explosive, liberating, and revolutionary force. This is the opposite of what Freud meant by the “return of the repressed,” where my my wish or desire, if it gets repressed, returns in an alienated form that I can’t control, resulting in neurosis. Freud saw the ego as being more or less oppressed by unconscious drives, and demanded that “where the Id was, there Ego shall be,” healing the ego by shining the light of consciousness into the unconscious. This polarity gets reversed in classic surrealism: the conventionalized, rationalized categories of consciousness are overthrown when the irrational forces of the unconscious are liberated, resulting in the free circulation of desire.

This model of throwing off the shackles of civilization in order to return humanity to its original unfallen state goes back, of course, to Rousseau and the Romantics. But there’s a stunning simplicity in the way the Chicago surrealists in particular use this model to reconcile and stabilize the inherently unstable synthesis of Marx, Freud, and Rimbaud (or sometimes the lineup is given as Marx, Freud, and Lautreamont), the three representative components of classic surrealism. With the victory of the irrational over the rational, what starts out as a psychological victory embodied in the free association of desires within the individual psyche becomes, in the form of collective action between individuals, a political victory of the working class, resulting in the free association of producers (a phrase that was actually used by Marx to describe communism), which in turn is paralleled by a poetic victory, as the free association of words yields the automatic poem.


Continues: http://www.thedreamingmachine.com/the-c ... rew-joron/
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby dada » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:29 am

Yes, my reaction to Rosemont surrealism is to make vomiting noises. haha

Rosemont surrealism was valuable for me, in that it disillusioned me toward surrealism as a whole. I said, "If this is surrealism, than I must not be a surrealist." And that's a good thing, in my opinion. I see no reason, or need, to identify or be a 'fellow-traveller' with any -isms, artistically or otherwise.

But I won't make my case for why Rosemont surrealism is conformist, suck-up authoritarian superfandom, here. It's not worth it.

As Walter Benjamin pointed out in his essay on surrealism (and I quote), the Parisian surrealists were the “first to perceive the revolutionary energies that appear in the ‘outmoded,’ in the first iron constructions, the first factory buildings, the earliest photos, the objects that have begun to be extinct, grand pianos, the dresses of five years ago, fashionable restaurants when the vogue has begun to ebb from them.” I’m not sure if Benjamin was being a bit ironic here, when he wants to perceive “revolutionary energies” in five-year-old dresses and once-fashionable restaurants.


Not at all ironic! This is what it's all about. When I have time later, I'll try to make the case for it.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby American Dream » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:48 am

I'm fairly positive towards movement-building in its more autonomy-oriented forms. I'd love to hear more about what brought you to your current perspective.
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby Iamwhomiam » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:17 pm

I'd love to learn more too, dada. I'm left with the feeling this would be more appealing to your libertarian view, it being less conformist, and for me a unique surreal manner in which to convey the radical revolutionary message and great desire of all vegetarians: eat a salad:
https://www.nytimes.com/video/t-magazine/food/100000005916510/make-t-something-laila-gohar.html
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Re: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art

Postby dada » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:02 pm

It isn't the content of the video that concerns me, but the form. The "NYTimes art video." I guess you might say that I'm, as Ben Watson puts it "allergic to the power-relations involved in commercialism. For [me], to countenance using something as imbalanced as the mass media to put over a "progressive message" is to agree with manipulation, setting up the artist in a hierarchy above the audience. In other words, "Bad form, or reactionary, derivative treatments are not something that may be excused by a 'progressive' message."

I should probably clarify here, what I see, or rather don't see, as "Free Revolutionary Art."

It isn't (to me) propaganda in support of a revolution. I think this sort of platform-based, soap box art runs counter to the 'spirit' of free revolutionary art. Art is never ('never' is perhaps too strong a word, I know) revolutionary in itself. It becomes revolutionary when the artist that creates it has fully assimilated their politics. These politics cannot be found anywhere on the surface, or (most importantly) hidden somewhere inside. Meaning there's no moral, no lesson to be unpacked. It's an art that is revolutionary by being an example of creativity unfettered, not by making overt or covert overtures to the viewer. The danger to the social order, the revolutionary potential isn't in its message, but by the very fact of its existence.

This idea extends, for me, right back to the present moment, as I sit here typing on the internet. I've been trying to get away from the preachy style of writing. The "I'm an expert, you're an expert, everyone is an authority in something or other, so let's all take turns playing at being ring-master/spectator in the bleachers" method of social interaction. Seeing us reduced to these barely-sublimated-to-not-even-trying-to-hide-it dominance/submission games, I can't escape the feeling that what we call culture and society are nothing more than the acting out of sexual repression.

Yet how difficult it is, to communicate without preaching! For me, at least.

As for Rosemont surrealism, to be honest, it was Franklin's book "Jacques Vache and the Roots of Surrealism" that turned me off to the whole project. Franklin somehow manages to turn the irreverent, pretension-deflating belly laugh of Vache's 'Umor' into pretentiousness itself. Someone should have explained to Franklin, that is what happens when you explain a oke.

The book turns out to have very little to do with Vache. Reading it was an experience not unlike watching a 'based on a true story' Hollywood blockbuster while Rosemont sits in front of you wearing a tall hat. As a bonus, Rosemont instructs us on how to be good nonconformists and revolutionaries by making constant appeals to authority.

So that's what my opinion of Rosemont surrealism hinges upon. What a book. Not that it's the only thing I've read coming out of that scene. But it was the one that opened my eyes. I'm glad Rosemont (and Kerr) republished some of T-Bone Slim's writings under the title 'Juice is Stranger Than Friction,' (although I could do without Rosemont's introduction.) I have no problem with Penelope.
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