Tuesday, September 28, 2010
There may be a lesson to learn from how we were once, and rightly so, snubbed for our enumeration of objective themes in the old text "Scream in the sack" which I would enunciate like this: at the next attempt we must try to better communicate the dynamics of elusiveness (which JE recently described as "something that generates a content but keeps moving beyond this content.") By better I think I mean – rather contrary to the vocabulary that in speculative hegelian terms talk about objectivity in an absolute sense – with clarity about the fact that surrealism is manifested in the individual case and is not present in the particular idealisation (and I'm not talking about its objective characteristics, because that I call sociology) which is being formulated ever so carefully and exhaustively as a support for our intentions and self-consciousness.
In that case, it is reasonable to speak about the essence of surrealism, namely, as immanent in the materialised poetic phenomenon, in the collective experience giving flesh and life to those intuitions which haven't yet been conceptualised and the concrete results of activity that, rather than living up to the contents, tend to establish new platforms in the unknown, or, like in the "Silent hand"-experiment, for a moment evokes that this is the case.
In the Stockholm group, a pronounced tendency can be perceived to recognise and suggest the possibilities of each trodden approach, and to imply that their logical or other contexts form the starting point for a specifically surrealist field of research where always "almost everything remains to be done". This scientific or pseudoscientific attitude also entails a mythopoetical or actually even literary exaltation of the intentions in a sublime self-consciousness concerning the modest proportions of the ego before the magnitude of the unknown, which admittedly makes an adequate representation of epistemological honesty, insider humor, and (by extension) hopeful despair.
So, what we are less good at is to demonstrate that we yet and always are "almost there", which is to say that surrealism hardly shares the existentialist gesture of an unattainable ideal or pretends to be an atomistic constellation of aspects holding merely an abstract configuration of wholeness, but instead that the unpredictable poetic phenomenon not just timelessly "heals the rift in the world" but also consummates the image of surrealism with a living reality that is all the more vivid and even more real because it is shared. And , as someone said, it seems to be the French who assumes the task, in their counterproductively totalitarian-poetic prose, to bear witness to and try to perpetuate this particular state and, at worst, to prove it. In the witnessing freedom of thought no difference between the marvellous and the sublime point is being reflected, but whenever one slyly wants to communicate in a more concise and directed form, there could be a point in showing that we count on two different moments, one of which is an external configuration, and which we want to learn to be attentive towards, and the other one shows itself as a mental state. And furthermore, that there are relations and methods to connect these two moments in a wider continuum, and that the rite of surrealism is aimed at freedom of movement in both directions. The pretentious implications of the discoveries, and confounding the one who benefits from the unusual states of mind, is a possible summary of the dynamics which should not be reduced to "we are interested in a, b, c..."; surrealism means "x + y but also z".
If we stick to the fact that this irrepresentable mystery makes surrealism something far more than a collection of themes, and something more than the academics' focus on the relationship between the statements of the surrealists and the representative examplifications of these statements, then you too realise where I am going when I am saying that the romantic idealization of the scientific methods may potentially play us a trick concerning the attempts to communicate or determine surrealism, especially if it concerns communicating with the tattered sphere of humanities, that sometimes succeeds to trap us in a position where we refer to our group experience as an "independent observer before a subject". It is this objectivity in a non-hegelian sense that reifies surrealism as a subject matter – and thereby also the typical questions of the decadence phase about legitimacy, succession, authencity, purity etc which make up the part of the sociological viewpoint that we could do very well without – that makes me think it could be time to sharpen the conflict between the humanities and surrealism (natural science still seems a less dangerous hearth to warm ourselves by, though).