The Scream in the Sack
We denounce capitalism. Capitalism is a system of exploitation and oppression poisoning the social relationships in every meaning. Bourgeois ideology is polluting the mental climate with its enstupiding and mendacious image of reality and its contempt for human thought and inventive powers.
We reject everything that restrains the full realization of human life.
This life is being stolen from us before we learn to know it. We only vaguely discern it through traces of freedom, beauty and excitement.
Surrealism is split as it is inspired by split experiences. We want to expand these fragments and place them in a context; more reality. It is also a struggle against the narrow-minded thinking that only pays regards to that which is utilizable in short terms and superficially well-known.
This thinking separates us from each other and from imagination. We find glimpses that inspire to action in evil, the incomprehensible, utopian, mad, raving, contradictory, etc, but also in the good, the banal and the worthless.
It is not a question of ranking, but rather to open up for the totality of all possible wishes.
Surrealists have devoted themselves to philosophical, political, artistic, moral and scientific preoccupations, but surrealism cannot be reduced to any of these. Surrealism is a tradition which is mediated by people organised in a movement. A movement which has a specific spirit and experience. Throughout its history it has always devoted itself to the poetic phenomenon and its problems, and it has always strived to make poetry something which is to be found everywhere.
The aims of surrealism take shape in its direction of movement. It thinks in a utopian way; it tries to imagine all that is desirable. There is a liberating function in this conjuring and poetic activity: when the established order is criticized, thought acquires life and the habitual modes of thought are thrown over. The desirable demands revolt.
Surrealism always begins with the very experience of life. In the tension between feeling the whole pain of misery and experiencing the marvellous, surrealism subsists in its entire ache. A permanent concern of the movement is to explore, with all means, man with all his creativity, misery and freedom, his social and antisocial inclinations.
Surrealism instigates and plants new mental disturbances.
Surrealism may not be original in its radicalism, its enlightenment or its romanticism. But it has four characteristics that may be unique: its collectivity, its counsciousness of tradition, its moralism and its epistemology.
Collecticty, consciousness of tradition and moralism all attack the individualist ego. By placing oneself in a certain connection one disturbs and puts aside the reign of the ego. In that way surrealism is the very opposite of an individualist culture where associations are made only to serve the personal interests of the individuals.
The surrealist community wants to constitute an embryo of a society. This sociality is based on the fact that the combined individual energies can be surpassed and what is more also take genuinely unexpected routes. What the critique against the individualist ego is all about is letting loose the revolutionary creativity and poetry that arises between people, not discipline and schematic solidarity.
Surrealist culture is marked by attention, filled with desire as well as conflicts, on the lines backwards. It is about assimilating experiences from about thirty countries and eight decades of creation, research and activism in the framework of the surrealist movement. And also to continously discover an ancient tradition of profound spirit of liberation: the "presurrealist" tradition of artists, thinkers, prophets, poets and movements, possessed with imagination and radically romantic. Not the least it is about tracking such a tradition within ones own linguistic and geographical area.
Various stands taken during the history and daily life of surrealism make the collective a moral instance. Not in the way that the group dictates the actions of its members. But group activity offers an opportunity for a basic repudiation of the established order, for greater radicalism and acuteness, through support and criticism; it offers a chance to preserve decency and dignity.
This is particularly difficult and interesting when it comes to the sphere of culture in its narrowest sense. Art, litterature, music or criticism are mere expressions among others that some of us devote themselves to – expressions in which we place a great deal of the specifically surrealist hope. However, as a market and a structure this cultural sphere only disseminate a more prestigious variety of the same indifference, the same illusory alternatives and the same publicity for the established order that mass media do. In relation to this individual surrealists of course choose different alternatives of acting. But surrealism itself remains in total opposition to bourgeois culture with its ballyhoo and campaigns, its institutions, its prestige, colleagiality and pie-throwings.
On the moral-political level surrealism to a great extent is about restraining daily politics from becoming the only politics. Revolutionary struggle contains much more than the most short-sightedly burning questions, which often lead to propagandism, censorship and social realism.
By stressing morality surrealism also constitutes a base of resistance against the moral reaction: against family, against nation, against religion, against puritanism.
The epistemology of surrealism attaches much importance in retaining the ambiguous in opposition to both common sense and common knowledge that strive to make the world unambiguous. In combining dialectical and analogical thinking surrealism sees the most human, playful and lively path to knowledge.
Analogical thinking: interpreting the world and existence through comparisons in line with old mystical patterns. Yet still to do it without metaphysical pledgings; to make oneself available to experiences, systematically explore, only not believe (in god, transcendent realities, the soul etc).
Dialectical thinking: to cultivate a historicizing conflict perspective. We also advocate a critical scientism (or rather pseudo-scientism since it is a question of taking up characteristics of science without partaking in its culture), i e experiments, analytical mentality, carefulness in observation and interpretation, matter-of-fact documentation, self-criticism. But all of this together with anti-academism, moralism, poetic sense, activism and a respect for peripheral, enigmatic or accidental ways of knowledge.
(Art has never been a major concern for surrealism, least of all today when art as a sphere is obviously degenerative and devoid of poetical spirit, and furthermore exploits human freedom and creativity. We turn against the institutionalisation of human creation for the benefit of the few, and instead want to put forward the possibility of art forming independant collective research projects. Facing the inflated artist role we react as the man in the street: the stupid, the sterile and the pretentious doesn´t get better just because it is called art. The feeling that the world is richer than we see is a concern of everybody, and of art. We would like to be able to describe our standpoint in relation to today´s art, but do not succeed in summoning enough interest.)
The surrealist tradition can be regarded as the continuation of a spirit uniting a set of traditional themes: mad love, the strange content of dreams, the glimpses of poerty in everyday life, chance phenomena (meagre ones as well as gracious). Other important areas are automatism, games and experiments, eroticism, drifting.
Can we expect something today from these classical surrealist themes and techniques? Previously for several of us they appeared as magical machines with the power to replace the entire economic, philosophic and esthetic spheres. Today however we take care not to see them as solutions, even though they keep conjuring up unexpectable and marvellous things.
We also find it self-evident that surrealist activity today and in Sweden cannot be just anything offered by the tradition. In the same time as we try to problematise our conditions, spontaneously the things we do have a certain direction, that may appear in part original in comparison with other surrealist groupings. Still it´s rather different emphasizes and new conclusions from the tradition than with breeches with it.
Above all we have a strong inclination towards the concrete and material, the sensuous and documentary. Not the least our eagerness to shun all religiosity and estheticism has made us focus on the materally given. More reality; discovering what there really is in the streets. Searching details and connections, now in a notoriously systematic way, now intoxicatedly and inspired, now clumsily random, emphasizing the inexhaustability and liberating potential of reality.
The same hope we place in the imaginary images; just because they too are concrete, sensuous and obsessive. But we also want to emphasize that these images are not necessarily visual, which they usually are in surrealist art and writing, but just as well audial, tactile, or in the form of a participation in the matter of objects and even more in the matter or physics of languange.
Our aim always to emphasize the materiality and immanence of the poetic has made us put a stress on that cornerstone of the surrealist tradition which is games and drifting, and on the interest in objects and in the city.
Furthermore we turn with curiosity to nature and to a base materialism emphasizing the useless and worthless. While the achievements of the surrealist imagination and imagery easily have permitted themselves to be used by official art and litterature, and even more by the advertisment industry, we know turn our eyes towards the remains, the totally alien and the useless.
Most concretely this has been manifested in an exploration of the worthless places of the city. But its also connected with the emphasis on more reality in a stress on the human. As an answer to the extension of the personality market, where we are encouraged to design our personalities and lead our lives as business concepts, we find today greater reason than ever to threaten, deceive and harass the ego, expose ourselves in our human contradictoriness, unmanageableness and why not ridiculosity, to expose us to the play of coincidences, the emptiness of laziness, the anxiety of deviation, the imperatives of collectivity, the compulsions of creativity and the aberrations of reality.
The formula will be, first as last, more reality.
(left unsigned by the surrealist group in Stockholm, published in LUCIFER, Stockholm 2000)
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