Tuesday, December 5, 2006




Our notes from discussions on sensual pleasure
in response to an enquiry from the Paris group
the surrealist group in Stockholm 2005
(delivered long past deadline - as usual - and yet unacknowledged by the Paris group)

1° Comment décririez-vous la volupté ?

First of all, we ask ourselves: What is the point in analyzing sensual pleasure? The experience tend to dissolve in its bodily sensation. The difference between sexual gratification and pleasure is that in the course of gratification you are aware of
the need that you are satisfying so that you are ready to rationalise your experience, but in sensual experience - like vomiting - the experience is not rational.

We agree, however, that the sphere of sensuality is the privileged area for reconcilement of dual concepts. Some of us take the same pleasure in taking a shower as in having human relations. The hypnotizing effect of sensual pleasure can be an experience of fascination and openness to the senses, a bodily joy. Neither reflecting state, nor self-reflecting. A possible dissolving of the limits between self and other natural (unnatural?) processes in the world, a partaking in the weather. Shared sensual pleasure also temporarily making the contradiction between communication and non-communication disfunction. Silence. Sensual pleasure is in that sense a magical act, wherein the dichotomy subject-object disappears. Eating exemplifies this: Eating disgusting things but still feeling that it tastes good. Or the sensual pleasure in
humiliation, in vomiting: vertigo. Shared sensual pleasure: disappointments and the faith in the contradiction that exists between love and sexuality.

Some of us emphasize that sexuality (in acto) is a magnetic field, involving intuitive communication, a further increase of sexual desire, exhaustion, paralysis.

Some of us stress the imaginary aspects of physical contact. The seemingly intensified experiences of psycho-physical sensations within oneiric states; incubi/succubi, developing and exploring pseudo-corporeal states, "touching from a distance", hexed
glances, word magic.

Some of us stress also the undesired aspects of sensual pleasure: the restlessness and laziness that can be one of the trappings of a narrow hedonism. The attitude of (although not the typical behaviour of) consumerism. We don´t think that well-being has a given place as a normal state in our mental topography. General well-being is an old repressive myth that haunts us in the mechanisms of control of social democratic state versus its citizens, and of parents versus children. Wherever well-being is held up as a superordinate goal, justice, truth, passion and curiosity are sacrificed. Hedonistic pleasure and common-sense well-being may have appeared as conflicting forces before; but since the breakthrough of the market mechanisms regarding our physical bodies in the early 80s (exercise, fitness, skin-grills, spas, sadomasochism, hygiene) they≠ve successfully joined forces almost everywhere.

Some of us hold that labour can be sensual pleasure. Not labour in its dead, wage-dictated form, but the living labour of producing both mental and material objects. Depersonalization appears during sensual pleasure as well as during labour, where
the primary actor resides not necessarily in the consciousness, but in some bodily function.

Some of us entertain the idea of the experience of non-contradiction between the body parts inside the body.

Some of us call to mind the states where sensual pleasure fails to trigger a corresponding motion (emotion) in the mind and becomes some irrelevant or an absurd background, establishing a duality between mind and body of another order than the usual disengaged alienation.

Some of us stress the metaphysical aspects of sensual pleasure; as concrete experience of Heideggerean "outholdedness" in "being" and of the irrelevance of good and evil.

(Love and sensual pleasure are not the same thing. It's stupid to talk about psychology.)

2° Pensez-vous que, par delà le plaisir, l'orgasme et sa jouissance, il y a des conditions particulières pour que l'acte sexuel engendre la volupté ? Lesquels ?

We are interested in the dynamic relationship between desire and sensual pleasure, in the romantic sense. It's a form of desire where the actual movements towards the object of desire is more important than the object itself. This specific dynamic can be said to be essential when answering this question. The object of desire is unreachable. A stress on sensual pleasure often connects with a depreciation of the dynamic forces of desire. We
may crudely summarise the romantic method as postponing the fulfillment of desire, not in the Freudian sense of derouting libido for socially useful means, but in order to savour it fully and reenchant reality by impregnating every aspect of it with obsessive imagery (and paranoiac-criticism, mythologisation and objective chance). Some of us see this as a fundamental surrealist and personal strategy. But then again, only inasmuch
as it doesn‚t totally refrain from the dynamics of transgressive behavior!

The imperative is to strive to be perfectly visible.

Where distraction disappears. Peaks. That is, multiple peaks or general leverage instead of single peaks and linear regression. Pansexuality! Love, passion (confusion).

3°) Que nous dit-elle sur notre condition de vivants ?

The non-fourierian organisation of pleasure, the industry of simulation closely linked to the society of the spectacle, the scandalous physical laws of the universe as resembled by the market relation, social-democracy, the repressive sublimation, the repressive tolerance, the poverty of social relations, the organisation of misery and its rationalisation etc etc. And its dialectical transgression.

4°) Quel éclairage vous apporte-t-elle sur le sens de la vie, de la mort, et de leurs reproductions ?

The ephemary nature of sensual pleasure not only resembles, but is closely linked to the ephemary nature of life itself ˆ as exemplified by death.

5°) pensez-vous pouvoir la considérer comme un bien absolu ?

To accept the notion of sensual pleasure as "absolute good" we have to consider to what extent its "absolute" value would be intrinsical (demarcating for or against certain problematic forms of amoralism) or relative (as a part of a the whole of the human experience, which tend to be our general attitude). To reconcile these modes of the absolute is perhaps only possible by adopting an entirely practical point of view, being aware of the arbitrariness of the operation, as did, for example, Eckhart by splitting the absolute into God and Godhead. Are there any practical advantages in uniting a multitudinous field of esteemed experience under the monicker of "sensual pleasure"? Or would such an attitude become hopelessly entangled with the demoralizing atmosphere of logical formalism and celestial hierarchies? Our strategical answer to that question would be: yes. But in the realm of speculation, the idea that sensuality is the only fundamentally real and what characterizes reality actually raises a non-nonsensical onthological question, far from adhering to any onto-theological absolutism. Intuitively it´s hard to reject the hegelian notion that man could experience the absolute in sensual phenomena in line wih how he imagines it in art, conceptualizes it in religion and thinks it in philosophy. But isn't "good" mostly a secondary category which in specific historical contexts are ascribed to imaginations, inventions and initiatives; who needs it to make poetry and revolutions?

6°) Participerait-elle au centre d'une conscience et/ ou d'une inconscience approfondies, du point suprême de l'esprit tel que l'a exprimé André Breton.

On a philosophical level, we could agree to the proposition. But we are quite uncertain, and haven't discussed it enough.

7°) A-t-elle pu inspirer plus ou moins directement quelques civilisations, quelques traditions, quelques utopies ?

The political-economical organisation of keynesianism would probably constitute the most dialectical example of this. While reducing sensual pleasure to its consumistic, commercial base, it nontheless succeded in co-opting it to the incitament of increase of production and social peace. The model of the welfare-state and its organisation through socialdemocracy also implies this kind of structuring of sensual pleasure on a repressive basis for social peace. The current situation is however puzzling: while the industry of simulation have on its own basis succeeded in recuperating and producing the simulacra of pleasure as a means of diverting potential subversive desires into the world of commodification, it can nevertheless not withhold the standards of social peace that keynesianism so successfully could provide during the decades after WWII. Perhaps it doesn't have to. Perhaps the crisis itself is a productive aspect of capitalist recuperation. And thus, we might have to ask ourselves: on what terms is the crisis of pleasure today being founded? How is it used by the capitalist machinery as a means of not only producing commodities (and facilitating their circulation), but also of organising the libidinal desires of modern society. How might this be linked to the fact the sensual pleasure because of its direct, unreflected state of perception is a guarantee of authenticity, while at the same time being the most heavily guarded trophy of the industry of simulation? Can the contemporary crisis be written in the diverted, but yet authentic language of sensual pleasure?

8°) Pourrait-elle, sans pour autant être banalisé ou exploitée, être assumée par une société et à quelles fins ?

Every individual act is hostile to society. Therefore, the democratic organisation of sensual pleasure implies a banalisation of its potentials. True pleasure is undemocratic in
a simple sense. But again, the opposite might also be true. In the unrestricted operations of the pleasure principle during dreaming, a level of collectivity might be attained during waking-life that directly corresponds, or gets enhanced by this operation. By collectivity, we here mean a state of intersubjectivity, where the desires and extensivity of eachsubject is interlinked with others through channels that are not normally controlled by consciousness. However not under democratic control, the conditions for engendering or augmenting such a state might be improved by the collective and democratic efforts of society. In essence, you could say that democracy should be concerned with conditions rather than substance. The substance itself is a collective or individual adventure that could not be reduced to a democratic stature. In this respect, various utopian schemes often have very little to teach us in political terms, while on the other hand the attempts in the early soviet union (cf Reich: The sexual revolution) and in the practice of "radical psychiatrists" deserve to be further built upon.

9°) De l'infiniment petit à l'infiniment grand, concerne-t-elle les phénomènes cosmiques, dont nous appréhendons que la mécanique mais dont les mouvements forcent à l'analogie ?

Possible: However interested we may be in cosmic correspondences, we have nothing substantial to say about it apart from speculation and ephemeral poetic discoveries. The difficulty seems to be one of contexts, and of admitting real differences between separate disciplines of thought. Some of us tend to delve into the context of natural science. Others aremore inclined to intuitive epistemology. The accumulated "expertise" in each field represents of course not only complementary starting-points, but also partly overlap each other, and will do so even more after further research. Thus, we have yet to come up with a mythical scheme that neither vulgarizes scientific methodology nor discredits the scope of poetic sense. To begin with, both a Bataillian "general excess economy" and a model of cosmic passionate attraction (whether in its hermetical or Newtonian form) may be elaborated in both terminologies . Would the concept of sensual pleasure perhaps add something inbetween? Not at first glance, but perhaps we shouldn‚t rule out the possibility entirely.

left unsigned, but elaborated by Christian Andersson, Johannes Bergmark, Kalle Eklund, Jacob Emery, Jonas Enander, Mattias Forshage, Emma Lundenmark, Niklas Nenzén.

Conclusions from Dominant Image of the Day game of this summers London festival of surrealist games

Mattias Forshage


(simple intrapolation:)
There are numerous missing eggs, as so many of the sites are occupied by other sphere-shaped objects;
armadillo-like ceratocanthid beetles, drops of mercury, toy footballs
bouncing back and forth in the middle of the street avoiding the football goals on the sidewalks
But the brain tumor in spain rests safely,
watching three romani girls calling for Clas Livijn and other exotic names.
It is not one of them but the woman who guards the tower who wears this breast face with sunglasses on her chest, which is reflected in the setting sun.
Danvikstull bridge is lowered to bridge the gap and madmen rush forth.
Some of them are caught by the crouching cats or hidden mantises.
East Kungsholmen is a pigeons head, and everybody’s playing in the stairs.
You can’t tell anymore who are the madmen.
It may be one of them who is a stunningly beautiful chinese woman,
waking up in the smoking pavilion
almost touched by putrefaction and pinched by portability
she manages to climb onto the roof of the pavilion and sits there,
in, as the roof blocks the noise of the other madmen,
a euphoric silence

(the predictable psychological-sexual interpretation:
Most of the images in this series and a lot of the associative material deals with fertility (but even more infertility), freedom, play, putrefaction, beauty, rest, transgression. It’s possible that any longer series of images chosen would converge on something like that, since they are issues likely to trigger one’s attention.
The eggs and pigeons are the two recurring or significant elements that stand out as more unlikely and thus more informative. On the symbolic level, both relate to peace; while the egg is more on the holistic and productive side, and the pigeon represents an individualistic-irresponsible freedom. Egg is reproduction and mystery, pigeon is lack thereof. Of course both are also associated with the overheated reproductive behavior of most birds (extreme stress, extreme overproduction, extreme mortality rates), and both produce several different associations to circular patterns of nature (involving putrefaction or not).
The notions of infertility and freedom are part of the bachelor machine concept, but other parts of it, such as the repetivity, are here lacking. A (relative) sense of isolation is also to be seen here, but one obviously conditioned not only by a deliberate relative isolation of my general living (the bachelor state as such, the devoted researcher) but also by the specific relative isolation brought about my my hard regular-hours full-time work this specific period. It is remarkable that the imagery of abstinence/impotence (not only the isolatedness in itself but specifically the missing eggs, the two different bags of garbage, the carcass, the armadillo defensiveness) related to this state do not trigger masturbatory imagery to a larger extent (only in the games in the stairs and in the football game over the road). There is one image sticking out it a little where it triggers a triumph fantasy infantile in its banality (the cat suddenly striking out). But in most cases there is an imagery of sublimation, which is always open for interpretation in a selfdestructive sense (castration) or a communicative sense (poetry). If the smoking pavilion is an indication of isolated homunculus-making in the athanor, it is nevertheless one sending out smoke signals! The individualistic-hedonistic pansexual joys of taking pleasure in remarkable beauty, peacefulness etc must of course be taken in their own right, but in this specific connection also related to my wishes of producing good stories for the game account, and thus naively communicative too. Finally, the drawbridge, the communication from Italy, the adventures in Spain, the playing in the stairs, and the general frame of the festival itself, unambiguously point to the communicative and potentially pansexual aspect of this.
Applied on the series of general themes, I conclude the series of images to depict a vague bachelor machine working and its implied transgression into pansexuality.)

some observations on living:
My results in this game, as well as my determination in sticking to carrying it out, is of course connected to the two weeks of the festival being two weeks which I had scheduled in advance as weeks of intense labwork where I would be learning a lot of new stuff and, adapting myself to the office hours of our department lab assistant, having to go up early every day, like in a normal job. So in a sense, the determination is very defensive, to ensure life a share in spite of full-time work. My tiredness (which is accentuated by the heatwave) and my lack of free walking play a major role in conditioning the results, as so many of the images themselves are from the walk between my house and the station or from the train rides, either in the morning or in the evening (at two occasions even in the very last minute, just before entering my house and being succumbed by the relative death of being indoors…).
I think this is one of the most important aspects of surrealist games, but one rarely discussed; how they represent another organising principle of everyday life. We all arrange different types of compromises with the need to work to make money and the need to fulfill different social duties. Just by any means keeping off that dead repetitivity (masturbatory only in a macabre symbolic sense) represented by the determination in the last instance by work hours on the stress to create ”creative” solutions how to fulfill achievements at work and at the same time social achievements in the field of domestic happiness. And as several of us have experienced, bohemic non-planning is usually not a solution, definitely not in the long run, but actually often not in the short run either, by drawing on and strengthening laziness, sloppiness and personal prejudices, rather representing a Charbybdis to that Scylla.
The paradigm of a solution is of course falling in love, which forcefully replaces any other superordinate perspectives on life on the whole and in the tiniest details, producing meaning in the most diverse activities and making almost anything doable out of mere curiosity in the specific context.
Extended surrealist playing is the experimental application of these mechanisms. As the spontaneous driving force transforming the world is absent, it will usually be less forceful. But it operates in exactly the same way, most things will be interesting to do, merely to see what information they might provide in the specific context actualised by the themes and the association chains of the ongoing game. Thus most of the compromises represented by work or social demands will be doable, because they too might provide something interesting, while they are not allowed to set the general agenda, to become the superordinate organiser of things. And on the other hand, other such work or social duties will be undoable, because they are so ridiculous in the relation to the issues involved in the game and the seriousness it invokes (ideally, we should refrain from those things outside a game framework too, but often do we lack not only the necessary determination but actually any particular reason). Correspondingly, we will also grab more small opportunities than usually, of actually really investigating that unknown street, cellar, cave, glade, starting a conversation with that stranger, going along on senseless initiatives, following up that clue or association, looking into that found note or book, etc; things that are the well-known details of surrealist life in general but which, in practice, always have to compete with the counteracting forces of other concerns, of stress and laziness and boredom and of course some accumulated negative experience – in the game context the question is not raised in the first place. The epistemological imperatives of the game tend to set aside all those mere practical limitations, all these nervous objections, all these psychological obstacles, all these prejudices, which constitutes personality, (which are usually given free reign under bohemic circumstances!) and make us take part in the great game of enjoying another sense of civilisation.



Guy Girard has sent us an ambitious and detailed criticism of our declaration "The Scream In The Sack" (see appendix 1 & 2 below). We would like to emphasize that Guy Girard – except for a couple of minor points – has understood the content and the spirit of it completely and extensively.
To reply to his criticism is therefore most relevant, because it exposes differences within the surrealist movement that we are happy to discuss in a wider context. Our admittedly deficient but nevertheless thought-out declaration, "The Scream In The Sack", has met with predominantly negative reactions within the movement – this pleases us immensely – but now, at last, there is someone who speaks out against us!

Defense of intelligible speech
Surrealism is the imaginary solution of the contradiction between Enlightenment and Romanticism. In the philosophical meaning it is surrationalist. From the beginning it has also had scientific ambitions (or pseudo-scientific ones, as it is situated outside all scientific institutions).
More than a few surrealists in the world have acquired an elementary humanistic education at universities or through other ways. They are consequently able to read Marx, Hegel, Freud, Sade, Lautréamont, Herakleitos, Nietzsche, Benjamin, etc. and understand their writings in a reasonable way. This basic knowledge, however, is not available to all. We live in a class society with unevenly distributed educational opportunities and literacy rates.
For sure, surrealism can never become a mass movement or a popular movement. But nor should it ever give up the ambition to intervene in the social struggle that permanently storms everywhere, to influence a larger number of people through its radicalism, its unusual perspectives, its spirit. This is not done through incomprehensibility. Guy's criticism on this point could easily be interpreted as elitist. It is not enchanting enough to speak intelligibly.
That surrealism puts becoming before being is obvious. A fundamental point
regarding surrealism is its refusal to reduce what it speaks about to the already familiar, to the easily surveyable and unambiguous. It is therefore not surprising if surrealism sometimes must sound unintelligible. But from there to assert that one never can express a clear and intelligible assertation about surrealism is idiocy.
We regret certain things in our declaration. Remorse is a truly surrealist virtue – one too seldom given its due by too many conceited surrealists. In our group we have always stressed the importance of taking risks. To subject oneself to the possibility of getting lost. Sometimes some have gotten lost so thoroughly that they have stayed lost and not wanted to acknowledge their crazy path; the other of us draw our conclusions with lighter or heavier feet.
Trying to write a short intelligible text about surrealism is such a risk. We know that it is much easier to agree on sweeping, lyric formulations precisely because they do not require any responsibility from us. That is why we have aimed at avoiding the seductive, the suggestive and the passionate.
There is another issue concerning intelligible speech that is more important. Guy doesn't take it up, probably because it puts much more at stake for the whole movement. It is the question of the relationship of the surrealist group to the public sphere. In the beginning of the history of our group were imbued with presumptuous secretiveness and the paranoic feeling of having penetrated all tricks of power. We rejected a priori a
public sphere – and a whole population – we were, in fact, lacking knowledge of.
Our overestimation of ourselves has decreased through the years and our desire to communicate has grown. We still consider the public sphere to be a deceitful, hostile and commercial alien who is always ready to exploit us for its own purposes. But we are nevertheless prepared to try the highways, the media and the latest internet connections. The desire to communicate leads us to expose ourselves to the risk of making mistakes even there. As long as we are watchful and serious, we will also be able to find accomplices through such channels. And we believe nevertheless that it is in the interest of surrealism to communicate and to be questioned in broader circles rather than becoming a sacred secret to be kept within a secluded brotherhood.
We deny the contradiction between thought and emotion, between reason and poetry. Often the difference lies in different speeds. Slow reflection breeds kinds of formulations different from enthusiastic frenzy. In a world of faster and faster information and image flows, we shun negligent texts and simple pictures. We demand an abyss of reflection. We can never be slow enough. Nor intelligent enough. That does not mean that one should stop writing. But the writing is conditional, which is a consequence of that surrealist attitude that is pragmatical and empirical in the midst of all
its dialectics.

Defense of the attack on the individual
Guy Girard defends Stirner's and Freud's bourgeois individual subject and claims that it is only on the ground of the individual that the "utopian" can be built. He may be right. We don't know and are not particularly interested. To us, utopia is but a literary genre among others, often especially appealing as it comprises the fantastic and a kind of freedom of thought. But we deny utopia as a political instrument. On that point we
agree with Marx.
In our view the individual and the subject are the fundamental myth of our time. We are not content with rejecting "one-dimentional man" – the consumer – but want to get at a deeper illusion. We deny the individual subject as an essence and a fundamental unity. Kantianism sucks. Our loneliness – a vulgar materialist fact – is contradicted by the collective character of our thinking. That is also why we enjoy being wrong. Neither
do we consider that a surrealist group is a "freely chosen collectivity". Natural right thinking was already obsolete in the 19th century even if our times' neoliberals still hold on to that idea.
We do not believe in the lonely genius; it is but a signature behind which a wilderness of collective energy is raging. Thus: fight against the subject and everything that looks like it. Related to that is our hatred for charismatic leaders who readily spice their empty texts with dusky metaphors.

Defense of a surrealist scientific mind
Surrealism was from the beginning inspired by both natural and human sciences. A break took place after World War II. When Breton, who for tactical reasons wanted to rally the movement around diffuse manifestations rather than around theoretical discussions or conflicts within surrealism, personally became fond of certain occult phenomena – not the latest fields of science – a certain obscurantism took root, which to a greater or lesser extent, still marks us today. We try to turn away from that, and maintain instead the ambition to carry out a critique and a practice animated by a
scientific spirit – without sharing science's stiffened forms.
The self-evident surrealist stand for wildness and passion includes a terrible desire for more reality. We do not want to transform reality (including other people) into base materials for our thought or into object of our desires (as has often been the case with the surrealist view of Woman, for example). We demand that surrealists be permanentely being shaken by the sight of the reflected participation of their own deficient persons in the dynamic magnetic field of materia and meaning that allow
them to exist.
That is where a scientific attitude is important. We mean that free questionning, systematic investigation, critical inquisitive thought, passionate love for knowledge, in short scientific mind in its fundamental and best form, is superior to any religious or sacred occupation. But we do not want to degenerate to idealism and raise some contradiction between "science" as an idea and the science we see around us today which too often serves the most repulsive interests in an oppressive way. The science that exists is the science that is meaningful to relate to. Long live astrophysics! Long live /evolutionary biology, geomorphology, linguistics and meteorology! Death to religion and the charismatic leader!

Short about art
Guy interprets our attitude towards art as a "constriction of the imaginary for the benefit of a shrinkage of critical reason". He possibly aims at our critical attitude regarding the image and its function in society and our subsequent suspicions concerning the surrealist image. We would hardly constrict the imaginary; rather, we would smash the images that stand in its way. The surrealist image is all too often but a hobby, a masturbation, a self-confirming ritual. One may call us the Zwinglians of the surrealist
movement – rather that than its papists.
Art has its possibilities for freedom and its oppressive mechanisms, both within the market-sensitive contemporary art sphere and within the more traditional, noninstitutional and hobbylike surrealist art sphere. Fruitful exceptions can be found in both spheres. The surrealist art sphere can be much more fun to devote oneself to. But we can neither accept nor understand a contradiction between these two in which the surrealist art sphere would constitute a reserve for the true essence of art and the contemporary art sphere the opposite.

A few semantic issues
Our standpoint on morals and Guy's on ethics is probably only a question of semantics and/or personal preferences. Everybody knows that the collective within surrealism has always been an arena in which to examine consistency or inconsistency, risk taking, consequences of and responsibility for actions.
Guy's criticism of point VI in our declaration is on the other hand totally correct. The surrealist tradition does not consist of themes. Instead, it is a form of a historic continuity of the spirit that links given themes into a kind of totality. We have corrected our text and thank Guy for his remark.

The issue of surrealism in general
One of the deepest surrealist insights is that most dangerous and most criminal in everything human is free thought. What we need to ask ourselves is how that free thought – which works according to that real functioning of thought that we readily want to be able to represent and also actually learn to use for the benefit of mankind! – can express itself in our mad, pluralistic and tolerant time, a time that cuts both ways as signs tend to lose their meaning.
During the from serf to lord self-evidently religious Middle-Ages, atheism was the expression of unrivalled free thought. But today? In the 1910s, it was an unrivalled free action to expose a urinal an art gallery and call it art. But today?
These and similar issues are what surrealism should devote itself to. The issues of freedom, thought and imagination in relation to history and contemporary times. Instead many of us seem to grasp at any kind of diffuse invocations that can inspire and cheer them up, either "the sacred" or "the magical image". Are we really that depressed? Well, perhaps.
We are tempted to issue a moratorium, a temporary but absolute halt to all nauseating "surrealist poems", those fusty "surrealist pictures", those conformist "surrealist theoretical texts", those always-alike "surrealist journals". Turn off the surrealist TV-set.
This doesn't mean that we aspire to a negative poetry. We do not believe that silence is the best poem or emptiness the best picture. Neither do we think that destruction is the only creative act worthy of the name. We would not be surrealists. Rather, we want to listen more – curiously, ardently and critically – to listen to the new words, to search for the new images and to feel the new movements like a vibration in the asphalt. No more my-desire-like-a-rabbit-in-the- pocket-of-your-onion-that-is-flapping-in-the-moonlight-with-the-scaly-thighs-of-the-marvellous-etc-etc."
Moreover, the distressing lack of the surrealist movement's presence in our
epoch is astounding. The feeble attemps at criticism of "post-modernism" for instance that have been glimpsed within the movement, and which for certain are totally legitimate, reveal at the same time a fundamental lack of knowledge and perspective. What would the surrealist critique of the 20s and 30s have been worth had surrealism not stood in the world without screening off against everything and everybody that did not want to call
itself surrealism?
It is time to seriously confront the following question: where is the surrealist spirit to be found today? It is up to the international movement to furiously throw itself into the adventure of that question, or else it will look like a philatelic association or anything else, a social network without crime.

September 1999
The Surrealist Group In Stockholm
Aase Berg, Carl-Michael Edenborg, Mattias Forshage, Bruno Jacobs,
Riyota Kasamatsu, Niklas Nenzén, Sebastian Osorio.
Reservations: Kalle Eklund, Maja Lundgren


Cependant, sur le fond même du texte, et sur sa forme je persiste dans ma
rude critique. Bien sûr, je ne suis pas en Suède et ne puis mesurer par
rapport à quel abîme d'incompréhension vous vous trouvez placés, pourtant
je ne pense pas que ce genre de déclaration catégorique – je disais
catéchisme, et cela ressemble à des articles fait pour être appris par
coeur dans une impensable école de formation surréaliste – soit digne
d'intérêt. Car avec un tel texte, à qui parlez-vous, à des poètes inconnus
ou à des épigones? Le surréalisme ne s'apprend pas point par point selon un
quelconque code, mais il se reconnait et l'on se reconnait dans sa
complexité en devenir, et sans doute par le sensible et d'imprévisibles
mouvements d'exaltation, d'imagination et de révolte qui font se dire que
c'est par là que ça se passe, et que là sont les amis avec qui l'on désire
partager et inventer quelque chose d'autre, c'est le surréalisme, une déjà
longue histoire certes, et des légendes, qui ont leur force justement parce
qu'elles ne peuvent se réduire à cet arrêt sur image/sur idéologie qui me
parait être le plus grave défaut de votre texte.
Ce n'est donc pas une bonne lanterne que vous allumez là. Trop simpliste en
effet, au risque de faire fuir les gens véritablement intéressés et
intéressants qui, je les imagine selon les surréalistes que je connais,
n'auraient surtout pas envie de voir un tel esprit enfermé dans un corps de
doctrine écrit apparemment par souci pratique de donner des réponses et non
par désir de poser des questions. Et j'avoue que l'idée d'imaginer ce texte
publié et diffusé de surcroit sur internet m'agace terriblement: s'imaginer
logé à si peu inventive enseigne!
D'autant plus que de çi de là, il y a des points sur lesquels je suis en
désaccord. Croyez-vous vraiment que, point I., l'idéologie bourgeoise
condamne, méprise (contempt) la pensée humaine et son pouvoir d'invention?
Le moindre documentaire TV sur les prestiges de la science par exemple,
dira le contraire, au nom justement de cet anthopocentrisme mi-idéaliste,
mi-matérialiste qui s'estime être le plus performant rejeton de la «pensée
humaine», en cette fin de siècle à Wall Street et partout ailleurs qui lui
Point IV. Je dirais «éthique» plutôt que moralisme. Problème de traduction
sans doute, mais l'éthique implique une réflexion, une conscience de soi et
de ses rapports à l'autre, perfectible; tandis que par morale je n'entend
que soumission à des lois, et donc reconnaissance de la légitimité des
tribunaux et des polices.
L'égo individualiste: quoiqu'il en paraisse à travers le «moi» aliéné des
citoyens consammateurs, la question de l'individu, du moi comme du sujet,
de sa formation et de son devenir ne se traite pas ainsi en deux phrases.
Que l'on se reporte plutôt à Stirner comme à Freud pour s'interroger tout
d'abord ce qui constitue le sujet, son aliénation et sa possible libération
au travers de l'enrichissement des rapports avec l'inconscient comme avec
une collectivité librement choisie dont en effet l'esquisse peut être cette
du groupe surréaliste. En cette époque propice à toutes les psychoses et
états «borderline», je pense qu'il faut affirmer que rien d'utopique ne
peut se construire qu'a partir de l'Unique, qui me paraît être la négation
créatrice de l'homme unidimensionel.
Un scientisme critique? Si bien sûr un plus large intérêt parmi nous est
souhaitable envers le domaine scientifique et ses alentours dits
para-sciences, je n'attends rien d'un quelconque scientisme, critique ou
non, dans la mesure ou en tant qu'idéologie de la science, le scientisme
s'estime seul à détenir les clés de la connaissance, par un usage
d'ailleurs aux antipodes d'un véritable projet émancipateur.
Point V.: Désolé, mais les surréalistes se sont beaucoup occupés d'art, et
s'en occupent encore beaucoup, puisque – toute critique sur le rôle de
l'artiste et de l'art comme marchandise étant toujours à remettre à jour –
le domaine de l'art est d'évidence domaine d'invention et de réalisation
(symbolique si vous voulez) du sensible. Je parle bien sûr de ce qui de
civilisation en civilisation, jusqu'à notre utopie se réalise comme art
magique. Ce n'est pas parce que l'art contemporain officiel est l'ignominie
que l'on sait, c'est à dire un instrument hélàs bien rôdé de censure du
sensible et des enjeux libérateurs et poétiques du sensible que nous allons
abandonner dans sa totalité l'expression artistique véritablement créatrice
à une critique iconoclaste qui développe un refoulement de l'imaginaire au
profit d'une hypertrophie de la raison critique, l'échec des situationistes
pouvant à cet égard nous servir de leçon.
Enfin je m'arrête au point VI (car il me manque la dernière page de votre
texte!) Attention aux glissades de mots: le surréalisme n'est pas la
tradition surréaliste, (laquelle n'a aucun sens s'il n'est précisé qu'elle
se fonde sur une série de ruptures) qui n'est pas un répertoire de thèmes
maintenant classiques (horreur!) à décliner selon l'humeur ou le programme
du jour. Il ne s'agit pas de thèmes (l'amour: un thème!) mais de ce qui
oriente la vie, qui fait tenir, réponse formulable ou non, face à l'envie
de se flinguer. Et vous en parler, l'air détaché, comme d'une collection de
manies intellectuelles, à peine plus conceptuelles que les techniques
qu'elles appelleraient inévitablement pour mieux noircir du papier! C'est
avant tout cela qui me gêne dans votre long [mot illisible], c'est en
apparence – car je ne doute pas que vous l'ayez en vous – le manque de
passion, la froideur clinique poussée sous le joug de l'agit-prop, à parler
si doctrinement de ce qui nous bouleverse, et qui bouleverse ceux à qui
nous choisissons de parler.
Car tu me dis que la rédaction, pendant de longs mois, fut parmi vous
l'occasion de débats passionnés, mais pour aboutir à ce compromis
apostoliqué. N'y aurait-il plutôt moyen, selon une écriture plus vivante,
d'exposer ce qui fait vivre votre groupe, autrement la puissance poétique
de poser des questions, plutôt que la mince certitude de faire se
trémousser une charrue idéologique?
Guy Girard 6 juillet 1999

Appendix: The Scream in the Sack (1999)

We denounce capitalism. Capitalism is a system of exploitation and
oppression poisoning the social relationships in every meaning. Bourgeois
ideology is polluting the mental climate with its enstupiding and
mendacious image of reality and its contempt for human thought and
inventive powers.

We reject everything that restrains the full realization of human life.
This life is being stolen from us before we learn to know it. We only
vaguely discern it through traces of freedom, beauty and excitement.
Surrealism is split as it is inspired by split experiences. We want to
expand these fragments and place them in a context; more reality. It is
also a struggle against the narrow-minded thinking that only pays regards
to that which is utilizable in short terms and superficially well-known.
This thinking separates us from each other and from imagination. We find
glimpses that inspire to action in evil, the incomprehensible, utopian,
mad, raving, contradictory, etc, but also in the good, the banal and the
It is not a question of ranking, but rather to open up for the totality of
all possible wishes.

Surrealists have devoted themselves to philosophical, political, artistic,
moral and scientific preoccupations, but surrealism cannot be reduced to
any of these. Surrealism is a tradition which is mediated by people
organised in a movement. A movement which has a specific spirit and
experience. Throughout its history it has always devoted itself to the
poetic phenomenon and its problems, and it has always strived to make
poetry something which is to be found everywhere.
The aims of surrealism take shape in its direction of movement. It thinks
in a utopian way; it tries to imagine all that is desirable. There is a
liberating function in this conjuring and poetic activity: when the
established order is criticized, thought acquires life and the habitual
modes of thought are thrown over. The desirable demands revolt.
Surrealism always begins with the very experience of life. In the tension
between feeling the whole pain of misery and experiencing the marvellous,
surrealism subsists in its entire ache. A permanent concern of the movement
is to explore, with all means, man with all his creativity, misery and
freedom, his social and antisocial inclinations.
Surrealism instigates and plants new mental disturbances.

Surrealism may not be original in its radicalism, its enlightenment or its
romanticism. But it has four characteristics that may be unique: its
collectivity, its counsciousness of tradition, its moralism and its
Collecticty, consciousness of tradition and moralism all attack the
individualist ego. By placing oneself in a certain connection one disturbs
and puts aside the reign of the ego. In that way surrealism is the very
opposite of an individualist culture where associations are made only to
serve the personal interests of the individuals.
The surrealist community wants to constitute an embryo of a society. This
sociality is based on the fact that the combined individual energies can be
surpassed and what is more also take genuinely unexpected routes. What the
critique against the individualist ego is all about is letting loose the
revolutionary creativity and poetry that arises between people, not
discipline and schematic solidarity.
Surrealist culture is marked by attention, filled with desire as well as
conflicts, on the lines backwards. It is about assimilating experiences
from about thirty countries and eight decades of creation, research and
activism in the framework of the surrealist movement. And also to
continously discover an ancient tradition of profound spirit of liberation:
the "presurrealist" tradition of artists, thinkers, prophets, poets and
movements, possessed with imagination and radically romantic. Not the least
it is about tracking such a tradition within ones own linguistic and
geographical area.
Various stands taken during the history and daily life of surrealism make
the collective a moral instance. Not in the way that the group dictates the
actions of its members. But group activity offers an opportunity for a
basic repudiation of the established order, for greater radicalism and
acuteness, through support and criticism; it offers a chance to preserve
decency and dignity.
This is particularly difficult and interesting when it comes to the sphere
of culture in its narrowest sense. Art, litterature, music or criticism are
mere expressions among others that some of us devote themselves to –
expressions in which we place a great deal of the specifically surrealist
hope. However, as a market and a structure this cultural sphere only
disseminate a more prestigious variety of the same indifference, the same
illusory alternatives and the same publicity for the established order that
mass media do. In relation to this individual surrealists of course choose
different alternatives of acting. But surrealism itself remains in total
opposition to bourgeois culture with its ballyhoo and campaigns, its
institutions, its prestige, colleagiality and pie-throwings.
On the moral-political level surrealism to a great extent is about
restraining daily politics from becoming the only politics. Revolutionary
struggle contains much more than the most short-sightedly burning
questions, which often lead to propagandism, censorship and social realism.
By stressing morality surrealism also constitutes a base of resistance
against the moral reaction: against family, against nation, against
religion, against puritanism.
The epistemology of surrealism attaches much importance in retaining the
ambiguous in opposition to both common sense and common knowledge that
strive to make the world unambiguous. In combining dialectical and
analogical thinking surrealism sees the most human, playful and lively path
to knowledge.
Analogical thinking: interpreting the world and existence through
comparisons in line with old mystical patterns. Yet still to do it without
metaphysical pledgings; to make oneself available to experiences,
systematically explore, only not believe (in god, transcendent realities,
the soul etc).
Dialectical thinking: to cultivate a historicizing conflict perspective. We
also advocate a critical scientism (or rather pseudo-scientism since it is
a question of taking up characteristics of science without partaking in its
culture), i e experiments, analytical mentality, carefulness in observation
and interpretation, matter-of-fact documentation, self-criticism. But all
of this together with anti-academism, moralism, poetic sense, activism and
a respect for peripheral, enigmatic or accidental ways of knowledge.

(Art has never been a major concern for surrealism, least of all today when
art as a sphere is obviously degenerative and devoid of poetical spirit,
and furthermore exploits human freedom and creativity. We turn against the
institutionalisation of human creation for the benefit of the few, and
instead want to put forward the possibility of art forming independant
collective research projects. Facing the inflated artist role we react as
the man in the street: the stupid, the sterile and the pretentious doesn´t
get better just because it is called art. The feeling that the world is
richer than we see is a concern of everybody, and of art. We would like to
be able to describe our standpoint in relation to today´s art, but do not
succeed in summoning enough interest.)

The surrealist tradition can be regarded as the continuation of a spirit
uniting a set of traditional themes: mad love, the strange content of
dreams, the glimpses of poerty in everyday life, chance phenomena (meagre
ones as well as gracious). Other important areas are automatism, games and
experiments, eroticism, drifting.
Can we expect something today from these classical surrealist themes and
techniques? Previously for several of us they appeared as magical machines
with the power to replace the entire economic, philosophic and esthetic
spheres. Today however we take care not to see them as solutions, even
though they keep conjuring up unexpectable and marvellous things.

We also find it self-evident that surrealist activity today and in Sweden
cannot be just anything offered by the tradition. In the same time as we
try to problematise our conditions, spontaneously the things we do have a
certain direction, that may appear in part original in comparison with
other surrealist groupings. Still it´s rather different emphasizes and new
conclusions from the tradition than with breeches with it.
Above all we have a strong inclination towards the concrete and material,
the sensuous and documentary. Not the least our eagerness to shun all
religiosity and estheticism has made us focus on the materally given. More
reality; discovering what there really is in the streets. Searching details
and connections, now in a notoriously systematic way, now intoxicatedly and
inspired, now clumsily random, emphasizing the inexhaustability and
liberating potential of reality.
The same hope we place in the imaginary images; just because they too are
concrete, sensuous and obsessive. But we also want to emphasize that these
images are not necessarily visual, which they usually are in surrealist art
and writing, but just as well audial, tactile, or in the form of a
participation in the matter of objects and even more in the matter or
physics of languange.
Our aim always to emphasize the materiality and immanence of the poetic has
made us put a stress on that cornerstone of the surrealist tradition which
is games and drifting, and on the interest in objects and in the city.
Furthermore we turn with curiosity to nature and to a base materialism
emphasizing the useless and worthless. While the achievements of the
surrealist imagination and imagery easily have permitted themselves to be
used by official art and litterature, and even more by the advertisment
industry, we know turn our eyes towards the remains, the totally alien and
the useless.
Most concretely this has been manifested in an exploration of the worthless
places of the city. But its also connected with the emphasis on more
reality in a stress on the human. As an answer to the extension of the
personality market, where we are encouraged to design our personalities and
lead our lives as business concepts, we find today greater reason than ever
to threaten, deceive and harass the ego, expose ourselves in our human
contradictoriness, unmanageableness and why not ridiculosity, to expose us
to the play of coincidences, the emptiness of laziness, the anxiety of
deviation, the imperatives of collectivity, the compulsions of creativity
and the aberrations of reality.
The formula will be, first as last, more reality.

(left unsigned by the surrealist group in Stockholm, published in LUCIFER, Stockholm 2000)