A recent little flair in organisational discussions sparked by events of no public concern has provided a pretext to formulate some new general thoughts and to return to some old favourites (the particularities of post-classic surrealist organising, the sense of surrealist antihumanism, the joy of curiousness, the importance of error, the role of strategy) some of which have particular applications in recent, ongoing or upcoming discussions.
Even if curiosity appears like a force of nature, the standard "stand-by" mode of the poetic organ, it can be considered on an intellectual level too, and not just ending up with Freud suggesting it to be the twisting into a socially acceptable goal of the given drive for investigating the physical differences between the sexes and the enigma of where children come from. We were discussing curiosity towards other surrealists.
For me, in fact, every single other surrealist has things to teach me. To begin with they often have anecdotes and personal characterisations of surrealists that I haven't met, and more importantly they often have experiences of their own failures and successes in terms of organising and experiments, but the major point is that in the end every single one of them has a unique way of having acknowledged, approached and appropriated surrealism and therefore a unique constellation of angles and particularities constituting that individual reflection of surrealism, and therefore also something to teach me about surrealism itself as such.
The point is not whether I will enjoy their company or not, whether our social skills or lack thereof will match, more that everyone will make an example worth consideration, a worthy suggestion.
To this "surrealist quasi-humanism" it might be necessary to also add a disclaimer. In many cases, people's personal vanity, or eagerness to stick to banal misunderstandings, represents a serious obstacle on the practical level that will make this unique angle virtually inaccessible or at least hardly worth the effort. Among these unique angles, many are exotic distorsions based on personal instrumental needs, that are interesting primarily as negative examples...
One important point of anti-humanism is to get rid of the perpetual obsession for self-justification and self-defense that keeps people from discovering anything new, taking risks, pooling our resources, and truly communicating.
Ok, I certainly think my own perspectives can be argued for, and my own impression of people has a validity; but my own sensibility and my own judgment are but tools, in fact my self, my existence as an individual, is but a tool, for the large-scale machination of the chaotic interference and reciprocality of passions governed by none which is the poetry of the world, and more specifically, I have put my own sparkling and ridiculous person in the service of that great conspiracy of cultivation of that poetry known as surrealism. Surrealism is my weapon of choice to some extent, but I find the other way around much more crucial, how I am a strange flower in surrealism's arsenal.
I too prefer people I like to people I dislike, and promising atmospheres to suffocating ones, but I remain suspicious that any such assessments of mine may be made on the basis of comfort, which is objectively misleading from the viewpoints of both poetic, epistemic and social dynamism, or that I may be simply mistaken. I could dismiss an association for lack of dynamism (for repetitivity or predictability or banality or comfortable habit) or for lack of seriousness (superficial noise and craving for entertainment) but if I would do it for instrumental reasons, or spontaneously, or strictly based on emotions, or strictly based on an argument, I would take great interest in doubting and questioning that judgment. Because intuitions, emotions and rational reasons are, in my view, merely functions whereby that approximate entity known as my person tries to find its path, and there is nothing in them that I consider worth eagerly defending or identifying with the focal point of my sensibility, which is necessarily an ambiguous and errant point. Just like in science, it is strictly speaking easier, as well as more meaningful and more constructive, to demonstrate something to be wrong than to be right. To be proven wrong is simply one of the most obvious situations of epistemological privilege where the configuration of the world is unstable, prejudices topple, the field of possibilities opens wide.
(If I argue at length for some of the positions I take, it is more in the purpose of conveying all facts, laying the cards on the table, demonstrating what conditions and logics that determine that position, in order to make it transparent, and to invite objections on a level as advanced as possible, rather than to convince someone or to justify my position. I am not making a fetish of arguing, since most "critical discussions" remain in sterile bickering over semantics, and many ideas have an inspiratory power regardless of being flawed or false...)
(Let's repeat that semantic point about intuition once again. I have here used the word in the cynical sense of "the total configuration of unconscious and preconscious prejudices", or what we call spontaneous judgment, good for most practical purposes. I have often ended up in quarrels over this, as some people, and sometimes myself too, instead use the word "intuition" for designating the very "focal point of sensibility" conducting the choir of epistemic means at hand. It remains important to note in this connection, that since rational reasoning has a limited range, dead angles, and is easily manipulated, and other particular methods have only specific applications, it is only such a higher-order intuition that is able to identify truth in some substantial sense (beyond both the instrumental and the scientific senses of conditional truth) and more importantly to distinguish between the interesting and the uninteresting, but that is an intuition which must have passed through thorough self-scrutiny, self-questioning, and the experience of systematic disorder of the senses... )
Surrealism looks for the point of no rule. But just like any formal anarchism it must ask itself "who rules if no one rules?" and dismiss a large number of alternatives. First of all, if there are no effective mechanisms to keep power in check, of course the one who had most power before, or most money, will rule; liberalism. If there are mechanisms restricting ascension to power, habit will rule alongside silent manipulations. Excessive behavior might multiply, but excessive behavior manifesting the same banal desires and ressentiments in mere pathetic gestures again reinforcing the rule of the normal order. Only where habit, banality and prejudice are actively counteracted, the path of no rule will truly be a path towards freedom. And it is therein that a fundamental anarchism of surrealism lies. We wish to live a life that is not just not in the control of some particular other force, but a life which does not conform to somebody's control at all, and therefore would disenvelop according to its own dynamics.
Anarchism itself remains the only political theory based on unrestricted democracy. Thus it has a strong focus on procedure, which is the first step of a methodological attempt. But usually, as it were, stopping short, in the fluctuation between decision-making so ultrademocratically slow as to be practically impotent on the one hand, and bonehead spontanism to counter this on the other hand. There is very little strategy in anarchism.
While surrealism, sometimes consciously, and sometimes merely implicitly due to its interest in methodology, is quite strategical in its long-term quest for a truly anarchic life. On the everyday level, surrealism strives for nothing but to "tune in" to the dynamics of the unknown, long-term striving to open portals and "slight disturbances" that change "business as usual" into a state where effectively no one has the power to impose any of their prejudiced aims, avoiding most of the noisy and predictable gestures of spontanism and looking for the truly strange angles, where everything is a windling path fuelled by the interplay of desire and chance through enchanted landscapes full of monsters.
Surrealist horizontal organising
An anarchistic organisation of surrealism in a decentralised and diffusely circumscribed network of heterogenous contact points differently linked through selective affinities, is the inevitable result of the death of the founder and (somewhat later) the subsequent (temporary) abandonment of organised activity in its historical centre of Paris. It is neither a regrettable organisational incapability, nor a consciously adopted implementation of anarchist ideology, but merely a historical effect. With particular possibilities inherent. Which seem particularly adequate in the present historical situation where available knowledge of democracy and vigilance towards everyday injustice is far greater than before, strategies of resistance and of cultivating various aspects of freedom have multiplied, while miserabilist organisation of life is reinforced by rampant conformism and ever-increasingly aggressive exploitation.
Any dreams of reorganising a surrealist international according to a leninist vanguardist model with national sections, a central line, or just the unambiguous line drawn to separate the true core from the rest, are just as practically unattainable as pointless today.
Real meetings between people are still at the core of this (groups, for true synergistic, overindividual and antihumanistic effects, for mutual moral criticism and poetic encouragement, for manifesting a collective thinking, playing, creating, etc). Nevertheless, international collaboration goes on at a daily basis through digital communication, and numerous projects and even groups are organised according to other delimitations than geographical ones. (Still, I find it difficult to see reasons not to take opportunities to meet any surrealists physically available.)
Within this, we will keep elaborating our principles and investigating their consequences. Some of us will keep emphasising the importance of our history and continuity as well as of the chosen designation of that tradition (surrealism in the letter). In bilateral terms here will be approachments, brawls, romances, ongoing tensions as well as dead zones. We will keep cultivating our friendship and collaboration with those who are interested in posing a similar kind of questions, investigating a similar type of experiments, provoking ourselves with similar atmospheres, regardless of which country they're in and regardless of how great their knowledge of the surrealist tradition and how devoted to the surrealist letter they are.