The psychoanalysts as well as the classically or religiously minded art psychologists see a functionality in this spiritual dynamism that would explain the effect of art... and tend to shoot beside the goal. Not the least because in art it specifically concerns a dynamic spiritual dynamics that may nowhere be reduced to its functional connection. In a way, there was somehow more of a point in the original effort of structuralism, which seemed so arbitrary, to study the function of poetry by scrutinising its technical means, which was clearly insufficient as explanation for its effects, and thereby could partly illuminate the whole while leaving the door open for a more unprejudiced acquisition in honestly fascinated ignorance, still pondering where exactly poetry does emerge?
One could make small models just to localise one's actual interest. An impromptu analysis of the determinations of a work of art from just the other day goes:
- first a series of aspects that are simple objective determinations:
* who is the artist/artists
* surrounding conditions (social and mental environment)
- then a series of aspects that are fairly simple yet negotiable determinations:
* immediate frame of reference (allusions, contemporariness, represented objects etc)
* style and skills
* gesture (social implications of creation)
- then a series of highly contingent determinations:
* immediate social dynamism of the work (ritual, use)
* subjective cross-fertilisation (encounter with spectator's associations and creativity)
* objective historical dynamism (possible historical repercussions on collective subjectivity and events)
- and then a series of complex objective determinations:
* inner gesture (psychological implications of creation)
* language and ontology (unconscious frame of reference, functional systems of the spirit)
* inner direction and dynamics (inherent inner world, dynamic direction, utopia, imaginary universe)
* springwells (the basics poetic mechanisms the work taps into)
— and all of this was just to sort out everything I didn't mean when suggesting "springwells" as an interesting angle to approach... On the other hand it could create criteria of some polemical point, such as against any purism or subjectivism, and also against various sociologisations that use to overemphasise the little aspect of subjective purposes in connection with social usage, be it in the form of the propagandism of the narrowminded politicos, the purely abstract hailing of creativity as a "free" and good thing by some postsituationists and more broadminded politicos, as well as the colorblind focus on procedure ("participatory culture") by the post-live-role-playing activists we sometimes discuss with. Against any subjectivism and utilism, art is primarily about the objective spiritual contents and potentialities (primarily the four aspects listed as complex-objective above). Without that it is just an abstract model, which might seem to be a good thing from a radical perspective but does not demonstrate this and instead is just believed in, in an ideological and utilistic way. But O those springwells.
And then these people who speak about surrealist art – if the ignorant will try to reduce surrealist art to one formula (or two or possibly three formulae for the broadminded), also the most knowledgeable and sympathetical will want to give an exposé of surrealist art typically by presenting a series of artists grouped chronologically, or "thematically" through a small selection of methods and themes in an unresolved mixture. Not only is this enumeration of themes a bit frustrating epistemologically as well as analytically, but in cases where it admits its temporary character as a background for potentially interesting observations and indulges in such observations on a more sensible level, these observations are often formulated as pertaining to one artist's oeuvre. The arbitrary degree of abstraction in circumscribing one artist's oeuvre as an entity in the spirit appears highly unsatisfactory to me. I would like to talk about the phenomenology of the spirit on the whole, with surrealist art (which, as we all must admit, is not a particular kind of art, but simply any art that focuses on essentials!) as a mindblowingly rich field of demonstrations.
Therefore I suggested eight such springwells that surrealists often tap into in their creative activities – and tried to avoid what I considered more of methods (such as automatism, paranoia-criticism and obsessive imagery) as well as more of themes (such as eroticism, romanticism and horror); but I might have been completely wrong in that; themes become springwells, springwells become methods, methods become themes, and vice versa? And of course these eight are not a classification but just the point where the analysis reached a certain reflexive equilibrium and started calling for empirical testing...
The eight springwells I suggested were:
1. atmosphere and enigma
2. the poetical image, analogy, collage
3. metamorphosis (including morphological imagination and alchemy)
4. automatical rage (fureur poetique)
5. organic growth and the inhuman
6. raw vision and irreducible mythology
7. spontaneous interpretation and fundamental ambiguity
8. pure marvel
Nature could tap into the same eight... Yet nature is not subject to the same set of determinations (listed above) and therefore the same dynamism perhaps issuing from the complex relationship between them. But instead quite another set of determinations and another configuration of dynamism. And there is, I think, as always a lot to be learnt from confusing the two as well...