Tuesday, December 5, 2006

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)

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