Monday, September 17, 2012

Matter in Dreams and the Matter of the Dream

The Madrid group is one of the more controversial surrealist groups, and one which we in Stockholm end up in contradictions and more or less polemical discussion with. However this is not because we have more actual differences with this group than with other groups, but merely because they too are fond  of critical thinking, investigating consequences of the conclusions, and communicating this explicitly. Some groups just never enter the discussion on that critical and explicit level.

We are happy to notice that also within the Madrid group there has been a recent focus on the dream, with the publication of Julio Monteverde's essay De la materia del sueño (Pepitas de calabaza ed.).

As your editor here have very insufficient language skills in Spanish, I am not able to go into detailed discussion about themes and questions from the book, and perhaps not even to give a decent overview of it, but I'll hazard the latter.

The book is structured as a tour through aspects of the dream. I sense a distinct change in perspective within the book though. This is most easily discerned in that the first half of the book lacks dream accounts and the second half has them, but I get the impression that this is not a mere superficial feature but actually correponds to a slight shift in perspective.

The long introduction and the first few allegedly concrete aspects seem less interesting as they (superficially) appear written in a faithful and rhetorical way; not posing any questions, not really recognising problems, nor providing concrete examples. I don't know exactly what is being said here but I see major risks: if we will be suggesting (as some has indeed explicitly done) a coherent surrealist perspective where all concepts loaded with our appreciation are analogised to the point of being equalised; the dream, poetry, desire, freedom; suggesting all syntheses are already acquired in this sphere, there is no internal problems, hardly any contradiction left, and consequently very little obvious movement or concrete potentiality; and we will have done little but to package our desires in a surrealist ideology. That is why we need careful empirical study of our chosen fields: to make them areas of passionate enquiry rather than just passionate projection.

So then, in the later chapters of the books, concrete aspects are actually concrete, based in empirical dream examples, acknowledging real patterns of dream formation, real images, real coincidences, real questions. That which actually happens in the dream is, both statistically and subjectively, different from that which happens every day – as well as from the sum of all possible possibilities (it's not like "in the world of dreams, everything can happen, and everybody is in there" as Swedish popsinger Robban Broberg once had it, even though he too had some picturesque examples); it tends to follow a particular dream logic and is structured according to the outcome of dream formation processes, which are a very distinct subset of poetic or imaginational mechanisms.

I salute this book, and wish for its translation into english so we can enter into very detailed discussion about these concrete aspects (on life and death)...


PS another Spanish-language book of a similar format which appeared this year, which I might have taken up here as a dual review had this been a book review site, is Ludión Antiguo (Seriemusidora), collected recent essays from Juan Carlos Otaño of the Rio de la Plata surrealist group. Due to the form of collecting occasional writings, there are several good examples of real contradictions, ongoing discussions, and a fresh surrealist gaze on recent or forgotten themes. Most of the perspective is strikingly orthodox, expecting the devotion to a classic surrealist perspective to be the best safeguard against destructive compromise, conformism and mental laziness in every single situation. But it is not restricted to a defense but also stubbornly explores consequences of the surrealist perspective, and offers some very good critical thinking. And, it is partly easy to read, because there are some English translations interspersing the articles...

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