Saturday, 26 February 2011

Geste Surrealiste

Comrades! Modernism died in the trenches of The Western Front – from the chaos of the First World War the first ‘Post-Modern’ movement, Surrealism – and its forerunner, Dada – emerged. What is the legacy of Surrealism? Openness to automatism, the irrational, chance, coincidence, indeterminacy and relativity; cultivation of black humour, the absurd and the transformations of the Pleasure Principle; a recognition that Modernism is now a spurious category signifying the reverse of contemporary. With the final realisation that avant-garde formalism has reached the end of its development and is now a failed, or a dying, movement, ‘Postsurrealism’ or Open Realism (realisme ouvert - Andre Breton) draws a line in the sand and, as they say these days, it ‘moves on’. Postsurrealists will side-step the political naiveté and heady idealism of the ‘heroic’ period of the last century. But they will retain the ‘nihilism’ of Dada (including the ‘requisition of churches for the performance of bruitism, simultaneist and Dadaist poems’) and expunge the final traces of mysticism from the dogmas of Surrealist orthodoxy, replacing it with mad love and a radical anti-teleology. They will re-affirm the Freudian perspective on the primal processes of creativity and the nature of the Weltanschauung. In the twenty-first century Post-Surrealists will proclaim the end of ‘Modern Art’, ‘Language Poetry’, ‘Fly-in-the-Bottle Philosophy’, ‘Social Constructionist Epistemology’, and any other high-falutin’ claptrap.

Published in Monomyth Supplement Issue 18, 2005

Illustration: Absolute Equinox, 2009

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