Antonio Gramsci on Surrealism and the Avantgarde

Published on January 2017 | Categories: Documents | Downloads: 7 | Comments: 0 | Views: 104
of 16
Download PDF   Embed   Report

Comments

Content


Antonio Gramsci on Surrealism and the Avantgarde
Author(s): E. San Juan, Jr.
Source: Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 37, No. 2 (Summer, 2003), pp. 31-45
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3527453 .
Accessed: 08/07/2014 06:34
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .
http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp
.
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]
.
University of Illinois Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of
Aesthetic Education.
http://www.jstor.org
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Antonio Gramsci on Surrealism and the Avant-
garde
E. SAN
JUAN, JR.
Surrealism
provided
me with what I had been
confusedly searching
for. I have
accepted
it
joyfully
because in it I have found more of a
confirmation than a revelation. It was a
weapon
that
exploded
the
French
language.
It shook
up absolutely everything....A process
of
disalienation,
that's how I
interpreted
surrealism.1
In the
spring
of
1919,
Andre Breton and
Phillipe Soupault
conducted vari-
ous
experiments
in automatic
writing. They
converted themselves into ma-
chines to record the
whispers
of the
unconscious,
inspired by
Rimbaud's
urge
for adventure in
quest
of cosmic
knowledge
and Lautreamont's conviction
of art as a communal
enterprise.
To
destroy bourgeois morality
and class
inequality, uphold
the freedom of the
imagination,
and release the libidinal
energies
dammed
up
in the
psyche,
surrealism
-
Guillaume
Appolinaire's
term2 -
was invented from the nihilistic ruins of Dada to
lay
the
ground-
work for
building
a
society
founded on
liberty
and
justice.
In the same
year
the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci founded the innovative
journal,
L'Ordine
Nuovo and advocated the
factory
council
(modeled
after the Russian Sovi-
ets)
as the
germ
of an
emergent
communist
society.
Both initiatives were
pathbreaking
in
challenging
the orthodoxies of modernist
bourgeois
culture,
politics,
and
philosophy.
When Breton
published
his 1924 "First Manifesto of Surrealism"
privi-
leging
dreams,
the
unconscious,
the
fantastic,
and
marvelous,
Gramsci was
the
principal
leader of the Communist
Party
of
Italy spearheading
the
op-
position
to Mussolini's fascist takeover. Two
years
later,
Gramsci was ar-
rested and
imprisoned
until his death in 1937. In the Prison Notebooks that
occupied
him while in
jail,
Gramsci does not
-
as far as I am aware
-
refer
to Breton or to surrealism
directly.
But in his scattered reflections on mod-
ern art and culture in
general,
and in his
particular
observations on Italian
futurism
(in
particular,
on
Filippo
Marinetti and
Luigi Pirandello),
we can
E. San
Juan, Jr.
is the 2003
Fulbright
Professor of American Studies at the Katholieke
Universteit, Leuven,
Belgium.
He was
previously Visiting
Professor of
English,
Wesleyan University,
Middletown,
CT. His recent books include
After
Postcolonialism,
Beyond
Postcolonial
Theory,
and Racism and Cultural Studies.
Journal of
Aesthetic
Education,
Vol.
37,
No.
2,
Summer 2003
?2003 Board of Trustees of the
University
of Illinois
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
32 E. San
Juan, Jr.
extrapolate
the
general approach
Gramsci would take toward surrealism and
avantgarde
art as
oppositional
cultural
practices.
This exercise
may clarify
what a
revolutionary
Marxist
position
should be toward the
philosophical
or
pedagogical category
of the aesthetic within the field of cultural
practice
and artistic
production, especially
in the
post-Cold
War
epoch
of nation-
state
realignments
and the
reconfiguration
of
globalized
finance
capital
in
the new millennium.
All commentators
agree
that Gramsci viewed the aesthetic as a
category
within the terrain of historical materialism and the
political economy
of
value in
general.
Artistic values are rooted in the social and material
practices
of a
specific society
which defines the limits of conventional artistic forms
and the
subject
matter available to the artist. Vision or intuition and diverse
raw materials
(language,
sounds,
dance
movements,
and filmic
images)
are
indissociable.
Contrary
to Benedetto Croce's
emphasis
on transcendental
intuition,
Gramsci valorizes the materialization of this intuition into
percep-
tible,
sensory
structure,
an architectonic whole
produced by
intellectual dis-
cipline
and
shaped by
an
integral
worldview. In
short,
for
Gramsci,
the
work of art is the historicization and
objectification
of
vision!
intuition.
Gramsci's
conception
of Marxism stresses its intrinsic dialectical
method,
its
emphasis
on
processes
and relations within a social formation
comprised
of
multilayered
modes of
production, given
the
necessarily
uneven devel-
opment
of
capitalism.
This mode of
historicizing
life not
only
to
interpret
but to
change
it is a
guide
for collective
action,
not a
dogmatic party
line.
"Man 'is'
precisely
the
process
of his
actions,"
Gramsci
writes,
and "relative
to what we have
thought
and
seen,
we seek to know what we are and what
we can
become,
whether it is true and within what limits that we do 'make
ourselves,'
create our own lives and our own destinies."3
Here,
knowledge
and action are oriented toward
linking
the
past
with the
present
in order to
fashion the future. The
chronotope
of revolution is
essentially
a
collage,
more
precisely
a
montage,
of transformations that
amalgamates
contraries,
oppositions, disparities.
While Gramsci did not endorse Freudian
theory completely except by
noting
that
psychoanalysis
is "a kind of criticism of the
regulation
of sexual
instincts,"
he did entertain a
tripartite organization
of the
psyche
when he
states:
"One's real nature" can be taken to be the sum of one's animal im-
pulses
and
instincts,
and what one tries to
appear
as is the social-cul-
tural "model" of a certain historical
epoch
that one seeks to be-
come....It seems to me that "one's real nature" is determined
by
the
struggle
to become what one wants to become.4
Cognizant
of both the realms of the id and the
ego,
Gramsci stresses the
will as the chief
determining
element of the human
personality,
a will
embedded in
conjunctures shaped by
collective action.
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Antonio Gramsci on Surrealism 33
Gramsci reiterates the Marxist
principle
of the individual essence as
equivalent
to the
"totality
of social relations" in the
following
remark: "Hence
the artist does not write or
paint
- that
is,
he does not externalize his
phan-
tasms
-
just
for his own
recollection,
to be able to relive the moment of cre-
ation. He is an artist
only
insofar as he
externalizes,
objectifies
and histori-
cizes his
phantasms" (SCW, 112). Unmistakably,
Gramsci underscores the
historicity
of form: "'Content' and 'form' have an 'historical' as well as
an 'aesthetic
meaning.
'Historical' form
signifies
a
given language,
as 'con-
tent' indicates a
given way
of
thinking
which is not
only
historical,
but
'sober,'
expressive."5
The
process
of
objectifying
and
historicizing
the im-
pulses
and drives thus shifts the focus from the finished
expression,
the "re-
flection and recollection of interior fullness and
perfection,
to the mate-
riality
of the
writing process,"
in
short,
to the
"complex system
of cultural
relations."6 The
ideologeme
of form is
solidly
articulated with determinate
social relations of
production
and
reproduction
in the historical
process.
Surrealism
parallels
Gramsci's radical return to the material
process
and
its vicissitudes.7 In Breton's 1924
Manifesto,
we encounter the concentration
on material social
process
as surrealism is defined as:
pure psychic
automatism
by
which it is intended to
express,
either
verbally
or in
writing,
the real function of
thought,
in the absence of
any
control exercised
by
reason and outside of all aesthetic and moral
preoccupations....Surrealism
is based on the belief in the
superior
re-
ality
of certain forms of associations
neglected
until
now,
in the om-
nipotence
of the
dream,
and in the disinterested
play
of
thought.
It
leads to the destruction of all other
psychic
mechanisms and substitutes
itself for them in
solving
the
principal problems
of life.8
Maynard
Solomon
perceives
the
tragic
flaw of surrealism in this
theory
of unconscious
creativity,
a
pretext
for
quietism,
but also the
motivating
force for a
perpetual
and creative
disequilibrium.9
However,
free associa-
tion,
viewed as a
specific
creative
method,
signifies
a mediation: the uncon-
scious
freely
manifests its infinite
possibilities
when the
censorship
of the
ego (the public
self or
persona)
is evaded and the instinctive libido mobi-
lized to
express
itself in
strange,
marvelous or fantastic forms vis-a-vis
quo-
tidian
reality.
This
reality,
one should
note,
is the reified and commodified
reality
of
bourgeois everyday
life,
the domain of
capitalism regulated
and
directed
by
the norms of the market and the iron law of
exchange-value.
The
phantasms
Gramsci refers to are Breton's
dreams,
the
play
of
thought
via
analogy
and
association,
and all kinds of
parapraxes
-
what Freud calls
"the
psychopathology
of
everyday
life,"
symptoms
of
repression.
In this
light,
we can understand
why
Breton condemned the routine
language
of decadent
bourgeois society
as
distorting
and obstructive: "the
logical
mechanism of the sentence
appears
more and more
incapable
of re-
leasing
the emotional shock in man which
actually gives
some true value to
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
34 E. San
Juan, Jr.
his life." While
stereotyped language
blocks "true consciousness" or "the
real
functioning
of
thought,"
insofar as it can
emancipate
itself from con-
ventional and received
forms,
it can also serve as "the medium of an idealized
'pure
consciousness."'
Raymond
Williams notes that from this
perspective
the
purpose
of
writing
becomes not communication but
illumination,
even
self-illumination,
with the
emphasis
on "the
experience
itself rather than on
any
of the forms of
embodying
or
communicating
it."10 But Breton
qualifies
this
by asserting
that the
poetic process
is
empirical
and
dynamic;
it did not
"presuppose
an invisible universe
beyond
the network of the visible world."
We need at the outset to
distinguish retrospectively
the surrealist trans-
valuation of
modernity
from Dadaism with which it is often confused.
Dada was born from the chaos of World War I. In a lecture in Zurich in
1922,
Paul
Valery spoke
of the
European
mind
"cruelly
wounded
by
war."11
In the works of Tristan
Tzara,
Hugo
Ball,
and
others,
Dadaism aims to ran-
domly destroy
all
existing
standards of
morality
and taste in
public
exhibi-
tions of anarchic
frenzy, burlesque,
and scandal
pour epater
le
bourgeois.
Sporting diving
helmets and outlandish
gear
in
public
urinals,
Dadaists
thematized
dissolution,
futility, meaningless,
and absurd
routine,
as a reac-
tion to modern
existence;
in
short,
Dadaism exalted the
phantasms
in them-
selves as
adequate
antitheses to
dehumanizing capitalist
mandates and
institutions. While surrealism also
may
be conceived as a revolt
against
bourgeois
conventions,
it
diverges
from Dadaism in its
uncompromising
confrontation with
capitalist power
and its
political agencies.
Called the
"prehensile
tail of
Romanticism,"
surrealism claims to be a
total revolution of the world.12 With
changes
in
society being premised
on
changes
in the character and consciousness of
humans,
surrealists criticized
the "common sense" rules and
practices
of
everyday
life. It is not correct to
say
that the surrealists desired the liberation of the
spirit
before the aboli-
tion of
bourgeois
class
society,
as Cesar
Vallejo
accused them of
doing.13
Rather,
they
believed that material conditions and the means of
expres-
sion/communication
are
inseparable. Radically questioning
the
accepted
modes of
representation, they sought
to
express
a coherent answer to nihil-
istic cant and the facile
"progressivism"
of business
society
witnessed in the
cult of
patriotism, family, religion,
and material
acquisitions.
In
challenging
this status
quo
internalized in the
psyche (the
Freudian
ego
commanded
by
the
reality principle),
surrealists
regarded
the uncon-
scious
glimpsed
in
dreams, fantasies,
and irrational behavior as the
reposi-
tory
of
utopian possibilities.
Such
possibilities
need to be articulated
through
a new
grammar
and
syntax
of art
(one
can cite
bluffs,
slogans, forgeries,
gratuitous
demonstrations,
and
watchwords),
new
stylistic breakthroughs
that would subvert the
corrupting
control of the rational
logocentric
mind.
The
public
self or
ego
needs to be dissolved
by
the
operations
of the sub-
liminal
drives,
operations
either
governed by
chance and or influenced
by
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Antonio Gramsci on Surrealism 35
certain
patterns
of the unconscious
(condensation, displacement, figures
of
dream-work).
Automatic texts and
paintings
would
express alogical
dream
visions and dissonant
images
that violate
monological,
uniform,
and me-
chanical standards in a
way
that would
synthesize
conscious and uncon-
scious materials
-
a
synthesis by negation.
The contradictions between ac-
tion and
dream,
reason and
madness,
sensation and
representation, psychic
trace and
primal myth,
would all be resolved in the intrinsic dialectic of sur-
realist
experience.
In the
region
of the
unconscious,
Breton
writes,
there is
not
only
"a total absence of contradiction" but also "a lack of
temporality"
and the absolute
reign
of the
pleasure principle.
The moments of creation
and destruction coalesce in the surrealist
technique
of
creating
the marvelous
and
precipitating
a new altered
understanding
of
reality.
Like
Gramsci,
the surrealists then endeavored to transform the
system
of cultural relations and artistic
practices by forging
a new
conception
of the
artist. To
carry
out
wide-ranging changes
in
personality
and in the conduct
of
everyday
life,
the surrealist needs
self-discipline,
a
personal asepsie
so as
to
preserve
a condition of
open accessibility
or
availability
to the solicita-
tions of the unconscious. The constitution of the surrealist
subject springs
from the
problematization
of the
authority
of the author and of the
academies,
the arbiters of Establishment taste. While
profoundly
libertarian in
stressing
the moral
exigency
of
desire,
the surrealist ethos
instigates
a
phase
of cosmic
passivity
-
the "wise
passiveness"
of Wordsworth
open
to
pantheist
visita-
tions
-
but not
permanently.
Since its mission is to
change
life
(Rimbaud)
and transform the world
(Marx),
surrealism
eventually
demands an
evangeli-
cal
program
of
action; hence,
many
surrealists
joined
the Communist
Party
of
France,
or the
Trotskyist opposition
in the thirties and forties.
Indeed,
to-
day,
the
Chicago
Surrealist
Group
led
by
Franklin Rosemont continues that
tradition of militant activism.14
Political
engagement
entailed constant aesthetic mutations. With the
activist stance ascendant in the
period
1925-1930,
the mode of
pure
auto-
matism
-
writing
under
hypnosis
-
evolved and was assimilated into a
"paranoiac
method" in which
"estrangement" (forms
of
insanity)
was simu-
lated in the
poem
or
painting.
Two other
strategies
to
objectify
desire and
its virtual
metamorphosis
were discovered:
first,
the notion of
"objective
hazard,"
a "a fortuitous
conjunction
in the world or mind the
significance
of which is
greater
than its
apparent
lack of causes would indicate."15 Sec-
ond,
the
foregrounding
of "black
bile,"
a form of ironic or
grotesque
humor
whose resonance recalls Dada but also the Rabelaisian comic satire on
official
monologic prejudices.16
One
may register
the
objection
that
surrealism,
inspired by
the
examples
of
Novalis,
Coleridge,
Nerval,
and Baudelaire
(apart
from Rimbaud and
Lautreamont
already mentioned),
favored moments of
madness, trance,
and hallucination more than moments of control. This is true insofar as the
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
36 E. San
Juan, Jr.
marvelous can be released
only
in the
gratuitous
instants or
privileged
moments of
rupture
when rational awareness is
suspended,
neutralized,
or
cancelled
altogether.
But such first-order
play
of
signs
is
always
inter-
twined with the reflexive second-order of
signs,
a
metalanguage
which
seeks to
grasp
the
totality
of the artistic
expression
within
society
and
history.
Ever
suspicious
of
bourgeois rationality, Apollinaire speculated
that the
artist can
reproduce
these instants of
rupture
without conscious intellectual
arrangement
or mediation. If
so,
apprehended objective reality
is not the
creation of
beauty through language
or other media but
simply
a manifesta-
tion of
pure
force,
power, energy.
It
approximates Spinoza's conception
of
conatus as the virtue behind the
unity
of form and substance.17
Surrealism,
however,
requires paradoxically
a will or intention to effect defamiliari-
zation and
estrangement
of reified
circumstances,
hence the need for or-
ganic
artist-intellectuals
(such
as Gramsci
envisaged)
that would serve the
subaltern classes
by interpellating
them as
revolutionary subjects.
Surreal-
ism claims to be one such
ideological apparatus
of
interpellation
in civil
society.
In
addition,
one encounters also the surrealist method of cadavre
exquis
-the
composition
of
poetry
via word
games,
or
pictorial
and musical
compositions requiring
collective
participation.
Such
poems
and
paint-
ings
are fashioned
anonymously by many
artists
(suggested by
Comte de
Lautreamont who envisioned
everyone
as a
potential poet).
So "the
exquis-
ite
corpse
will drink the new wine"
-
one memorable line of this collective
word-game
-
becomes a
product
of a communal
seance,
the direct route to
the unconscious.
Still,
given
the ineluctable
sociality
of
language
and its se-
mantic
parameter,
communication of the surrealist vision
transpires through
material
objectification.
For
example,
in Breton's
Nadja,
the framework of
everyday
life serves as the
point
of
entry
for
mapping
the
topography
of
Paris in a
sequence
of constant
estrangement performed by
the narrator
through changes
of
perspective
and
unlikely
but heuristic
juxtapositions.18
Like the
psychologist
Pierre
Janet,
the surrealists
regarded
the
products
of the mind as
sensory
material or
substance,
evidenced in the
recognizable
referents
juxtaposed
in the famous
signature logo
of surrealism: "The chance
meeting
of a
sewing
machine and an umbrella on a
dissecting
table." The
fact that
poetic analogy
is a deliberate act of
revealing
the affinities and
identities
(catalyzed by
chance, automatism,
erotic
experience)
between the
mind and the exterior universe testifies to the intervention of a will that seeks
to resolve the antinomies of the
pleasure principle
and the
reality principle.
"One is like the other"
-
to
say
this is
itself,
for the
surrealists,
a subversive
and
revolutionary
act.
Gramsci
would,
I am
sure,
appreciate
this intervention of the
synthesiz-
ing
will of the surrealist
imagination
in the artist's
attempt
to
represent
socio-
historical
reality.
But Gramsci is not
just
obsessed with mimetic
reproduc-
tion or the
photographic capture
of surfaces. He is more concerned with the
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Antonio Gramsci on Surrealism 37
cultural and
ideological struggle centering
on the
key concept
of
hegemony,
hegemony
conceived as the moral-intellectual
leadership
of a historic bloc
of forces that combines consent and force in
instituting
a whole
ethico-po-
litical order in a
given epoch.
Gramsci is
primarily engaged
with the
politi-
cal criticism of
art,
"the criticism of social
life,
involving
the
struggle
to de-
stroy
and overcome certain
feelings
and
beliefs,
certain attitudes toward life
and the world"
(SCW, 93).
This is evidenced in his
judgment
of the Italian
futurist
Marinetti,
an evaluation which can be
applied
also to surrealism in-
sofar as surrealism calls for new aesthetic forms and values as a
symptom
of the need to
reorganize
the whole
society
dominated
by exploitative
and
dehumanizing capitalism.
Echoing Anatoly Lunacharsky (then
commissar of education of the
Soviet
Union),
Gramsci
praises
futurism's
political-aesthetic
attack on bour-
geois
norms and values. Futurism's iconoclasm threatens
bourgeois
cul-
tural
hegemony
and thus coincides with the
proletariat's
need for
political
power.
Marinetti's
positive
role within the framework of the socialist
pro-
gram
to
forge
an alliance between the
working
masses and the radical bour-
geois intelligentsia
is similar to the surrealist
position
of
democratizing poetic
expression
and
repudiating
elite culture.
In the context of the rise of fascism as the cult of the
irrational,
Gramsci
subsumed the libidinal within a collective
organizing
intention. He outlined
the
hypothesis
for this united front or coalition of forces to usher a
"prole-
tarian civilization" which can include
heterogeneous
and even
contradictory
tendencies:
To
destroy bourgeois
culture meant
simply breaking
down
bourgeois
spiritual
hierarchies,
rejecting
biases,
idols and stultified
traditions;
it
meant not
fearing
innovation, nor
thinking
that the world will col-
lapse
if a worker makes
grammatical
mistakes,
if a
poem limps,
if a
picture
resembles a
hoarding
or if
young
men sneer at academic and
feeble-minded
senility (SCW, 50-51).
The last
gesture felicitously
evokes the surrealist
(and
Dadaist) lambasting
of reified academic art and commodified
spectacles
that now characterize
the transnational consumerist
vogue
of Eurocentric
postmodernism.
Gramsci's
praise
of futurism can be extended to surrealism and its ex-
perimental systematic
drive for innovations. Futurism's demand for new
forms of culture
was,
for
Gramsci,
"distinctively revolutionary"
and "abso-
lutely
Marxist" and in this field of culture "it is
likely
to be a
long
time be-
fore the
working
classes will
manage
to do
anything
more creative than the
Futurists have done"
(SCW, 51).
Written in
January
1921,
Gramsci's
ap-
praisal
of futurism is
salutary,
a
powerful
antidote to the sectarian
dogma-
tism of the bureaucratic "socialist realist" code of Stalinism and its bureau-
cratic adherents. It
springs
from a cardinal tenet of an
earthy
autochtonous
Marxism born of
popular
mass
struggles:
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
38 E. San
Juan,
Jr.
Once the
principle
has been established that all we are
looking
for in
the work is its artistic
character,
this in no
way prevents
us from in-
quiring
into what mass of
feelings,
what attitude towards
life,
circu-
lates within the work itself....What is not admissible is that a work
should be beautiful because of its moral and
political
content to the
exclusion of the form with which the abstract content has fused and
become one.19
Despite
the reminder of the desideratum of
organic
form,
Gramsci does
not subsume
ideological/political critique
into the doctrine of an abstract
formalist aestheticism.
Rather,
he maintains a flexible
strategic option by
in-
sisting
that the form is
always
the form of a
specific
sociohistorical
content,
as I have underscored earlier.
Historicizing
cultural
practice
is fundamental for Gramsci. In a letter to
Trotsky
in
September
1922,
Gramsci recorded his disillusionment at the fate
of Futurism after the war. The
young intelligentsia
of Futurism had turned
reactionary,
with Marinetti
extolling
the
"aristocracy
of the
spirit":
"The
workers,
who had seen in Futurism the elements of a
struggle against
aca-
demic
culture,
fossilized and remote from the
popular
masses,
had to
fight
for their freedom with
weapons
in their hands and had little interest in the
old
arguments"
(SCW, 54). Pursuing
the
principle
of
historicizing
cultural
practice,
Gramsci arrived at a calculated
judgment by inscribing
aesthetics
within the balance of
contending
lines of force in the overall
struggle
for
hegemony. Incidentally,
in 1938 Breton collaborated with
Trotsky
in found-
ing
the Federation internationale de l'art revolutionnaire
independant (FIARI)
whose manifesto ended with the
slogans:
"Our aims: the
independence
of
art
-
for the revolution. The revolution
-
for the
complete
liberation of
art!"20
Gramsci's attitude to Pirandello's relativist or
perspectival
theater can
also be extended to the
ultimately emancipatory praxis
of surrealism. For
Gramsci,
Pirandello's
plays
were valuable for their cultural rather than
purely
aesthetic function. Like
Futurism,
they "deprovincialized"
the Ital-
ians and stimulated a modern critical attitude that
displaced
the traditional
"melodramatic" attitude
(SCW, 139).
While Gramsci measured Pirandello's
drama
according
to a
cognitive,
realistic criterion and censured the
allegori-
cal cast of Pirandello's
characters,
he did not
ignore
the cultural
project
informing
the ratiocinative
epistemology
of Pirandello's
experiments.
He
called Pirandello a
"stormtrooper
of the theater"
throwing grenades
that
destroyed
banalities and traditional
schemes,
in
particular
"the 'humani-
tarian' and
positivistic conception
of the
bourgeois
and
petty-bourgeois
verismo"
(SCW, 141).
The
playwright's
relativist
epistemology
sent shock
waves to the established hierarchies of
power/knowledge, undermining
all
forms of closure. In
brief,
Pirandello's
significance
resided in the usefulness
of his
"bourgeois
subversivism" for
attaining proletarian hegemony
-
the
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Antonio Gramsci on Surrealism 39
final test of moral worth. What is
imperative
for Gramsci is the formation of
a historic bloc of forces that would lead the masses in the
thoroughgoing
socialist reconstruction of
society.21
Surrealism exceeded the limits of
"bourgeois
subversivism"
by predi-
cating
"the liberation of man
upon
the
proletarian
Revolution."22
Deploy-
ing
Marx's
"logic
of
totality"
within a historical-materialist
orientation,
the
surrealists
sought
the transmutation of "two
seemingly contradictory
states,
dream and
reality,
into a sort of absolute
reality,
a
super-reality,
so to
speak."
While Gramsci
posed
the relative
autonomy
of the
spheres
of
poli-
tics and
ideology
from economic
determinants,
he conceived also of a trans-
mutation of the "base" and
"superstructure"
via a catharsis.
By
"catharsis,"
Gramsci means "the
passage
from the
purely
economic
(or
egoistic-pas-
sional)
to the
ethico-political
moment,"
the decisive
passage
from the
objec-
tive to the
subjective,
from
necessity
to freedom.23
Objective
structure then
ceases to be an external
constraining
force and becomes an instrument of
freedom and the source of new initiatives.
We have reached the dialectics of reason and the
unconscious,
of
thought
and the sublime
object,
that resists
conceptualization.
This central doctrine
of "catharsis"-Gramsci's
linkage
of what is
traditionally thought
of as
the antithesis of the economic base and the
ideological superstructure-is
what
Breton,
I
think,
is
trying
to enunciate in
formulating
the
paramount
motivation of surrealism:
a desire to
deepen
the foundations of the
real,
to
bring
about an ever
clearer and at the same time ever more
passionate
consciousness of
the world
perceived by
the senses....We have
attempted
to
present
interior
reality
and exterior
reality
as two elements in
process
of unifi-
cation,
of
finally becoming
one. This final unification is the
supreme
aim of surrealism: interior
reality
and exterior
reality being,
in the
present
form of
society,
in contradiction
(and
in this contradiction we
see the
very
cause of man's
unhappiness,
but also the source of his
movement)
we have
assigned
to ourselves the task of
confronting
these
two realities...
[in]
their
reciprocal
attraction and
interpenetration.24
In Herbert Read's
paraphrase,
for
surrealism,
"art is not
merely
irratio-
nality;
it is rather the
interpenetration
of reason and
unreason,
a dialectical
counterplay,
a
logical progression
whose end is a transformed world."25
This is also the thrust of Breton's "Second Surrealist Manifesto" and Les
Vases Communicants in which reflexive
metalinguistic
assessment is ori-
ented to
healing
the
split
between action and
dream,
personal sensibility
and
social motion.26
One can illustrate further the concrete translation of this theme in Breton's
novel
Nadja,
its articulation of the
"principle
of total subversion" which
also underlies the
poems
of
Eluard, Desnos,
and
Aragon.27
But here I
depart
from the beaten
path
of academic
scholarship.
I would rather
point
to the
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
40 E. San
Juan, Jr.
Caribbean
poet
Aime Cesaire's simultaneous
appropriation
and
abrogation
of surrealism in Notebook of a Return to The Native Land and other
po-
ems.28
Meeting
Breton in
Fort-de-France,
Martinique,
in
1941,
Cesaire ac-
knowledged
Breton's "boldness" and the solutions offered
by
surrealism to
problems
tackled
by
Cesaire's
Negritude
movement.29 Cesaire's
poetic
themes and motifs
encompassed
the surrealist
exploration
of
childhood,
mad-
ness and
neurosis, anticlericalism, eroticism,
free association and the occult
to
expand
the boundaries of
consciousness,
to attain wholeness of
being.
What Cesaire contributes is the uninhibited and calculated violence
(remi-
niscent of Rimbaud's
"disordering
of all
senses")
inflicted on French
syntax
and
prosody
to create a
hybrid
but
original
intertextual
rhythm
that
merges
the
kaleidoscopic
milieus of the "Third World" and
European
civilization.
Cesaire remains a
point
of
departure
for the revitalization of the surrealist
impulse everywhere.
Surrealism remains a vital
aesthetic-political project today.
It is
fully
consistent with the classic Marxist
project
insofar as the "surreal" is an im-
manent
beyond,
its
goal
(in
the words of Michel
Beaujour)
"a humanized
nature and a naturalized man"
conversing together
in
exalting clarity.30
The
leading
American Marxist critic Fredric
Jameson
assesses surrealism within
the
postmodern regime:
The
Utopian
vocation of surrealism lies in its
attempt
to endow the
object
world of a
damaged
and broken industrial
society
with the
mystery
and
depth,
the
"magical" qualities (to speak
like either We-
ber or the Latin
Americans),
of an Unconscious that seems to
speak
and vibrate
through
those
things.31
Robert Short celebrates the surrealist
sensibility
of the here and
now,
conso-
nant with Gramsci's realism and the
imperative
of
counterhegemonic praxis:
"they
have
sponsored
the
revolutionary
idea of the artist as
everyman
and
of
every
man as
potentially
and as of
right
un homme
complet."32
Complementing
the Gramscian accent on
practical
realism is the
utopian
dimension whose most acute observer is Walter
Benjamin.
In his
essay
"Sur-
realism: The Last
Snapshot
of the
European Intelligentsia," Benjamin
located
surrealism's
enduring
achievement in the method of
"profane
illumination,
a
materialistic,
anthropological inspiration"
that loosened the self and its
"moralizing
dilettantism"
by
intoxication. Such intoxication allowed the sur-
realists to transform the urban milieu of social and architectonic "destitution"
into the arena of
"revolutionary experience,
if not action."33
Surrealism
exemplified
the
avantgarde
view that
wrestling
with
language
generates
the
experience
of illumination
-
the matrix of
revolutionary
art
itself.
According
to
Raymond
Williams,
the surrealist converts the function
of
language
as
distorting public
communication into a medium of "ideal-
ized
'pure
consciousness"' which
captures
the distance between what is
imagined
and what exists in culture and
society.34
It was
not,
as
Christopher
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Antonio Gramsci on Surrealism 41
Caudwell
believed,
an
escape
from the "social
ego."35
Here is a recent re-
affirmation of the classic surrealist
philosophy by
the
leading
American
exponent,
Franklin
Rosement,
a re-statement of what Gramsci calls the
hegemonic
drive of
emancipatory politics:
In our
view,
the surest
way
to find viable solutions
[to
the
problems
of
capitalism today]
is to
pursue
an
approach
rooted in the free-wheel-
ing utopia
of universal
analogy,
absolute
divergence,
eroticism,
pot-
latch and
play. Happily
liberated from work and the
work-ethic,
war
and
religion, production
and
profit,
and other
repressive
values;
an
approach
that fetishizes neither conscious nor
unconscious,
but seeks
their dialectical
resolution;
an
approach
that
rejects
the
depreciation
of
reality
and all varieties of
cynical
accomodation to
misery,
and de-
mands instead freedom
now,
more
reality,
expanded
awareness,
and
ready
access to the Marvelous at all times.
The surrealist
experiments
with
language
and the unconscious
generated
a
dialectical
apprehension
in which "we
penetrate
the
mystery only
to the de-
gree
that we
recognize
it in the
everyday
world,
by
virtue of a dialectical
optic
that
perceives
the
everyday
as
impenetrable,
the
impenetrable
as
every-
day."37
Surrealist
political
action mediated
through
the
negativity
of critical
experiments
that
incorporate
the
very dynamic
of
history may
be said to
induce the
profane
illumination in which "all the
bodily
innervations of the
collective become
revolutionary discharge"38
-
exactly
the "catharsis" that
Gramsci considered the answer to the
problem
of
hegemony
and the
strategic
imperative
of a
global
socialist revolution.
NOTES
1. "An Interview with Aime
Cesaire,"
in Aime
Cesaire,
Discourse on Colonialism
(New
York:
Monthly
Review
Press, 1972),
67-68. See Robin D.G.
Kelley's
excel-
lent introduction to a new edition of Cesaire's
manifesto,
"A Poetics of
Anticolonialism,"
Monthly
Review 6
(November 1999):
1-21.
2. To
register
the
physical misery
of the
landscape
of
war,
Apollinaire's
term "sur-
realist" was
actually
invented for the
program
notes for the
Diaghilev produc-
tion of Parade in
1917,
in which
Stravinsky,
Satie, Picasso,
and Cocteau collabo-
rated. Cf. Scott
Bates,
Guillaume
Apollinaire (New
York:
Twayne, 1967)
and Will-
iam
Fleming,
Arts and Ideas
(New
York: Holt Rinehart and
Winston, 1974).
The
most
ingenious exploration
of the historical contexts of surrealism in its various
permutations
is Daniel
Cottom,
Abyss of
Reason
(New
York: Oxford
University
Press,
1991).
3. Antonio
Gramsci,
The Modern Prince and Other
Writings,
ed. Louis Marks
(New
York: International
Publishers,
1957),
76.
4. Antonio
Gramsci,
Selections
from
the Cultural
Writings,
trans. William Boelhower
(Cambridge:
Harvard
University
Press, 1985),
145. This book will be cited as
SCW in the text for all
subsequent
references. See also Renate
Holub,
Antonio
Gramsci:
Beyond
Marxism and Postmodernism
(London: Routledge, 1992).
5. Quoted in Galvano della
Volpe,
"The Semantic
Dialectic,"
in Marxist
Literary
Theory:
A
Reader,
ed.
Terry Eagleton
and Drew Milne
(Cambridge:
Blackwell,
1996),
175.
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
42 E. San
Juan,
Jr.
6. Robert
Dombroski,
Antonio Gramsci
(Boston: Twayne, 1989),
17.
7. For
samples
of surrealist
poetry by Aragon,
Eluard,
and
others,
see the collec-
tions: Willis
Barnstone, ed., Modern
European Poetry (New
York: Bantam
Books,
1966)
and Alan
Bold, ed., The
Penguin
Book
of
Socialist Verse
(Baltimore: Penguin
Books, 1970).
See also the feminist inflection of surrealist
poetics by Penelope
Rosemont,
Surrealist
Experiences:
1001
Dawns,
221
Midnights (Chicago:
Black
Swan
Press, 2000).
8. Helena
Lewis,
The Politics
of
Surrealism
(New
York:
Paragon
House, 1988),
21-22.
On the debate
concerning
the
politics
of surrealism between Renato
Poggioli
and Peter
Burger,
see the
enlightening commentary
of Ann
Gibson,
"Avant-
garde,"
in Critical Terms
for
Art
History,
ed. Robert S. Nelson and Richard Shiff
(Chicago: University
of
Chicago
Press, 1996),
156-69.
9.
Maynard
Solomon, ed.,
Marxism and Art
(New
York: Alfred
Knopf, 1973),
507-6.
10.
Raymond
Williams,
The Politics
of
Modernism
(New
York:
Verso, 1989),
73. For a
negative critique,
see Arnold
Hauser,
The Social
History of
Art,
vol. 4
(New
York:
Vintage
Books, 1961),
235-36. In contrast to
Hauser,
the
philosopher
Ernst Bloch
comments on the
montage/collage
methods of De Chirico and Max Ernst:
"Montage
-
far from
being merely arbitrarily objective
-
reflects the becom-
ing-visible
of
experimental properties
within the
objects
themselves,"
symboliz-
ing
therein the
principle
of
emancipation;
see
Bloch,
Literary Essays (Stanford:
Stanford
University Press),
408-9. On the social
import
of
collage
and the heu-
ristic
metaphysic
of encounters in diverse art
forms,
see
Jean
Duvignaud,
The
Sociology of
Art
(London: Paladin, 1967),
136-41.
11. Quoted in
James
D.
Wilkinson,
The Intellectual Resistance in
Europe (Cambridge:
Harvard
University
Press, 1981),
9.
12. C.W.E.
Bigsby,
"Surrealism,"
in
Roger
Fowler, ed.,
A
Dictionary of
Modern Criti-
cal Terms
(London: Routledge
and
Kegan
Paul, 1973),
187.
13. Jean
Franco,
Cesar
Vallejo:
The Dialectics
of Poetry
and Silence
(London:
Cam-
bridge University
Press, 1976),
150. See also Franco's comments on the localiza-
tion of surrealism in the Latin American context and its
emphasis
on social in-
stead of inner liberation in her
survey,
The Modern Culture
of
Latin America: Soci-
ety
and the Artist
(Baltimore,
Md.:
Penguin
Books, 1970),
196: "The Latin Ameri-
can surrealists
-
for
example
Wilfredo Lam
(b. 1902)-
no
longer regarded
themselves as imitators of
Europe
but as
part
of an international movement." A
version of surrealism
applied
to the
Philippines
is discussed
by
Rodolfo Paras-
Perez,
Galo B.
Ocampo (Manila, Philippines:
Zone-D Art
Publications, 1973).
14. As witnessed
by, among
others,
the
special
issues, Race Traitor 9
(Summer 1998)
and Race Traitor 13-14
(Summer 2001), focusing
on "The Revolution
Against
Whiteness,"
and the historical
scholarship
of David
Roediger,
Robin
Kelley,
and
Penelope
Rosemont;
see also the
superb
edition, Surrealist Women: An Interna-
tional
Anthology,
ed.
Penelope
Rosemont
(Austin: University
of Texas
Press,
1998).
15. See for
example,
Thornton Wilder's 1942
play
The Skin
of
Our Teeth
(New
York:
Random
House, 1942).
16.
Joseph
T.
Shipley, Dictionary of
World Literature
(Paterson, N.J.: Littlefield,
Adams, 1962),
403.
17. See Louis
Althusser,
"Part I:
Spinoza,"
in The New
Spinoza,
ed. Warren
Montag
and Ted Stolze
(Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota
Press, 1997),
3-20.
18. The
painters Giorgio
de
Chirico,
Max
Ernst, Jan Miro,
Yves
Tanguy,
Salvador
Dali,
and
others,
have
explored
the unconscious
region
of the
psyche through
erotic
symbols,
motifs from
myths,
chance
associations,
hallucinatory tropes,
dream
fantasies,
memory images,
automatic
drawing,
visual
paradoxes,
and all
kinds of
incongruities.
See Edmund
Swinglehurst,
The Art
of
the Surrealists
(Bristol,
U.K.:
Parragon
Book, 1995).
For Pablo Picasso's surrealist
phase,
see
Max
Raphael,
Proudhon Marx
Picasso,
ed.
John
Tagg (New Jersey:
Humanities
Press, 1979)
and
John
Berger,
The Success and Failure
of
Picasso
(New
York: Pan-
theon
Books, 1965).
We also find Renaissance illusionism mixed with abstract
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Antonio Gramsci on Surrealism 43
figurations,
as in Chirico's The
Disquieting
Muses
(1917).
One critic describes sur-
realism as a return to "content,"
unfolding
a
reality
saturated in
dreams, reverie,
and
nightmarish
aura;
see Paul
Zucker,
Styles
in
Painting (New
York:
Dover,
1963),
328-29. Surrealism in music can be
exemplified
in Erik Satie's three
piano
pieces
of 1913 entitled Dessicated
Embryos; Serge
Prokofiev's Love
of
Three
Oranges
(1921)
and Bela Bartok's
opera
The Child and the Sorceries
(1925).
19. Quoted in Della
Volpe,
"The Semantic
Dialectic,"
175.
20.
Lewis,
The Politics
of
Surrealism,
148.
21. To some
extent,
the surrealists
may
be
guilty
of ultra-Leftism when
they (Breton,
Eluart, Peret)
criticized the united front of intellectuals
against
fascism as a
po-
litical
strategy directly opposed
to the
pursuit
of the class
struggle.
This united
front was
organized by
Henri Barbusse and Romain Rolland in 1932.
Accusing
the Communist
Party
of France of humanism in defense of
bourgeois
culture,
they
were
expelled
from the Association of
Revolutionary
Artists and Writers
which included their former
colleague
Louis
Aragon.
In this
they diverge
with
the Gramscian notion that what is essential is to attack the
hegemonic
culture
by
mobilizing
a broad coalition of forces in
multiple
fronts and sectors.
22. See Andre
Breton,
"Surrealism and Historical
Materialism,"
in Marxism and
Art,
ed.
Maynard
Solomon,
508-10.
According
to
J.T. Fraser,
Breton
"mistakenly
equated
the manifest content of dreams with the content of the unconscious and
also
mistakenly equated
dreams with 'the disinterested
play
of
thought,"'
so
that surrealism should
aptly
be called
"subrealism";
in
Time,
Conflict,
and Human
Values
(Urbana: University
of Illinois
Press, 1999),
220.
23. Antonio
Gramsci,
Selections
from
the Prison
Notebooks,
ed.
Quentin
Hoare and
Geoffrey
Nowell Smith
(New
York: International
Publishers, 1971),
366-67. See
also Chantal
Mouffe,
"Hegemony
and
Ideology
in
Gramsci,"
Gramsci and Marx-
ist
Theory,
ed. Chantal Mouffe
(London: Routledge
and
Kegan
Paul,
1979),
168-
204.
24. Andre
Breton,
What is Surrealism? trans. David
Gascoyne (London:
Faber and
Faber,
1936).
On the dialectic of chance and
necessity,
the Marxist aesthetician
Stefan Morawski
provides
a brilliant
insight:
"Automatic
writing (much
like ac-
tion
painting
and
jazz improvisation)
is at bottom an
expression
of the stream of
consciousness;
it relies on
accident,
and
permits
the untrammeled
personality
of
an artist
(more precisely,
the immediate creative
process)
to issue
forth;
in
short,
we witness the
"composition
of structures whose basic materials are
expressive
qualities,"
in
Inquiries
into the Fundamentals
of
Aesthetics
(Cambridge:
MIT
Press,
1974),
111. On the
syntax
of intention and effect in artistic
creation,
see Rudolf
Arnheim,
"Accident and the
Necessity
of
Art,"
in Art
History:
An
Anthology of
Modern
Criticism,
ed.
Wylie Sypher (New
York:
Vintage
Books, 1963),
410-28.
25. Herbert
Read,
Art and
Society (New
York: Schocken
Books, 1966),
123. A contem-
porary
re-statement of the surrealist credo
may
be found in the 1970 introduc-
tion
by
the American
poet
Franklin Rosemont to his The
Apple of
the Automatic
Zebra's
Eye (Chicago:
Surrealist Research and
Development Monograph
Series,
1971)
of which the
following
is an
excerpt:
"In thus
stepping
aside from the ab-
surd notion of a conscious 'means of
expression'
chained to the
past,
in favor of
revealing
a certain
activity
of the mind rooted in desire and oriented toward the
future,
toward the realization of man's
greatest potentiality,
it is our
hope
to as-
sist in the elaboration of a
general
crisis of consciousness. It is
precisely
the
provocation
of such a crisis, in
fact,
which seems to
us,
as
surrealists,
to offer not
only
on the
specifically poetic plane
but on the
plane
of
thought
in
general
the
most
dynamic,
fertile and
prehensile
means of
serving
the cause of human
emancipation."
26. Andr6
Breton,
"Second Surrealist Manifesto"
(1930)
and Les Vases Communicants
(1932),
cited in What is Surrealism? Selected
Writings by
Andre
Breton,
ed. Franklin
Rosemont
(New
York: Monad
Press,
1978).
27. Andre
Breton,
Nadja,
trans. Richard Howard
(New
York: Grove
Press,
1960),
152. For a Mexican
perspective,
see Octavio Paz's
appreciation
of Breton's
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
44 E. San
Juan, Jr.
achievement,
"Andre Breton or the
Quest
of the
Beginning," Alternating
Current
(New
York: Seaver
Books,
1983),
47-58.
28. Aime
Cesaire,
Notebook
of
a Return to The Native Land
(New
York:
Penguin
Books,
1973).
29. Aime
Cesaire,
Discourse on Colonialism
(New
York:
Monthly
Review
Press,
1972),
17. On the resonance of surrealism in
jazz
and African American
performance,
see Paul
Garon,
Blues and the Poetic
Spirit (San
Francisco:
City Lights, 1996).
Cesaire's
poetics
is
expertly
described
by Gregson
Davis in his introduction to
his translation of and
commentary
on Cesaire's
poetry;
see his edition of Non-
Viciouis Circle:
Twenty
Poems
of
Aime Cesaire
(Stanford:
Stanford
University
Press, 1984).
A useful introduction is A.
James Arnold,
Modernism and
Negritude
(Cambridge:
Harvard
University
Press, 1981).
30. Michel
Beaujour, "Flight
Out of Time: Poetic
Language
and the
Revolution,"
Yale French Studies 39
(1967):
48.
31. Fredric
Jameson, Postmodernism, or,
The Cultural
Logic of
Late
Capitalism (Durham,
N.C.: Duke
University
Press,
1991),
173. The
impact
of
European
surrealism on
American artists
may
be
sampled
in the substantial
anthology,
The Forecast Is
Hot! ed. Franklin
Rosemont,
Penelope
Rosemonet,
and Paul Garon
(Chicago:
Black Swan
Press, 1989).
The historical resonance is
scrupulously
recorded
by
David
Roediger
in two
essays: "Plotting Against
Eurocentrism,"
Race Traitor 9
(Summer 1998): 32-39;
and "Radical
History
Without
Surrealism,"
Race Traitor
13-14
(Summer 2001):
75-90.
32. Robert
Short,
"Dada and
Surrealism,"
in Modernism
1890-1930,
ed. Malcolm
Bradbury
and
James
McFarlane
(London: Penguin, 1976),
308. On the affinities
between surrealism and abstract
expressionism,
see
John
I.H.
Baur,
"Painting
and
Sculpture,"
in An Outline
of
Man's
Knowledge of
the Modern
World,
ed.
Lyman
Bryson (New
York: Nelson
Doubleday, 1960),
619-31.
33. Walter
Benjamin, Reflections,
ed. Peter Demetz
(New
York: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, 1979),
182.
34.
Raymond
Williams,
The Politics
of
Modernism
(New
York:
Verso,
1989),
73.
35.
Christopher
Caudwell,
Illusion and
Reality (New
York:
International, 1937),
285-
86. Rene Crevel comments on Dali's dismissal of surrealists
-
"idealists with-
out
participating
in
any
ideal"
-
as a formula that condemns idealist or
matterist satisfactions that
put
all
thought
to
sleep."
He adds: "Dialectical mate-
rialism,
alone in
rendering
to notions the movement of which
metaphysical
analysis
has defrauded
them,
sucks
up
this chloroform...whence revolution in
understanding, today
the
prelude,
tomorrow...reflex-reflection of the
living
Revolution,
of the lived
Revolution";
see
Cottom,
Abyss of
Reason,
194-95. A ri-
poste
to Caudwell
may
be found in the somewhat
neglected
treatise on Rimbaud
by
the
proto-postmodemist Henry
Miller,
The Time
of
the Assassins
(New
York:
New
Directions, 1956;
reprinted,
Pocket
Books,
1975).
36. Franklin
Rosemont,
Andre Breton and the First
Principles of
Surrealism
(London:
Pluto, 1978),
62-63.
37.
Benjamin, Reflections,
190. See also Robert
Short,
"The Politics of
Surrealism,
1920-36," Journal of Contemporary History
1,
no. 2
(1966),
3-25. Short's
essay,
re-
garded by
some as the definitive summation of the
politics
of
surrealism,
should
be
qualified by
the
insights
of Peter
Burger,
in
Theory of
the
Avant-garde (Minne-
apolis: University
of Minnesota
Press, 1984)
and
by
Neil Larsen's
illuminating
analysis
of the function of surrealism in the Latin American context which I
have alluded to earlier. After
mentioning
Jose
Carlos
Mariategui's
view toward
avant-garde
aesthetics and Cesar
Vallejo's amalgam
of surrealism and commu-
nism,
Larsen remarks: "Surrealism's
relationship
to Marxism is less that of an
analogue
than of a kind of
supplement
-
as if
montage
were
providing
a 'dia-
lectical
image'
not
only
of an
emancipatory
break in its
objective,
historical di-
mension but of the mental
category
of revolution
itself,
within an intellectual
mind-set still accustomed to
associating
revolution with a
history
centered in
the colonizer's
metropolis";
see Neil
Larsen,
"Preselective Affinities: Marxism
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Antonio Gramsci on Surrealism 45
and Surrealism in Latin America," Socialism and
Democracy
14,
no. 1
(Spring-
Summer
2000):
31.
38.
Ibid.,
192. Of
provocative significance
is the
spirit
of
critique
in the surrealist
program
discerned
by
the
philosopher
Herbert
Marcuse;
see Franklin
Rosemont,
"Herbert Marcuse and the Surrealist
Revolution,"
Arsenal: Surrealist Subversions
(Chicago:
Black Swan
Press, 1989),
31-38.
This content downloaded from 202.41.10.21 on Tue, 8 Jul 2014 06:34:02 AM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Sponsor Documents

Or use your account on DocShare.tips

Hide

Forgot your password?

Or register your new account on DocShare.tips

Hide

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive a link to create a new password.

Back to log-in

Close