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By Raoul Vaneigem

A down-and-dirty survey of the surrealist circulation written through best situationist theorist Raoul Vaneigem. Vaneigem’s caricature bars no holds, blistering on surrealism’s creative and political aporias, and jam-packed with telling quotations, it offers admire the place admire is due, laying off loads of gentle on situationist attitudes, adverse and optimistic, in the direction of their surrealist predecessors.

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Additional info for A Cavalier History of Surrealism

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This was the 37 metaphysical conundrum from which the Surrealists were trying to escape when they mistakenly pinned their hopes on Bolshevism That is why the first issue of La Revolution Surdaliste is replete with press clippings concerning suicide. In the survey conducted in that issue on the question of why people kill themselves , Artaud's response remains exemplary: I suffer frightfully from life. There is no state I cannot attain. And without a doubt I have been dead for a long time already-I have already committed suicide.

The voice of this tendency was Rene Daumal and Roger-Gilbert Lecomte's review Le Grand leu, whose first issue appeared in 1928. The possibility of a con­ vergence between this group and Breton's was explored, but proved impossible. Daumal and Lecomte had little taste for the kind of disci­ pline Breton imposed. Furthermore, they had a certain contempt for politics, this at a time when the mainstream Surrealists were hastily becoming politicized, and whenever they were reproached on these grounds, which was often, they would respond by warning of the dan­ ger of Surrealism's co-optation.

Yet, since he had failed to understand that as part of the same process there is no love wi thout a revolution of everyday l i fe, Breton ended up, via the notion of "mad love", promoting a veritable cult of Woman. The Surrealists opposed libertin ism in the name of an elective and exclusive form of love, but it is an open question whether these two antagonistic attitudes do not in the end amount to much the same thing, whether a woman elevated to the rank of the Chosen One and a woman fucked lovelessly are not both bei ng treated as objects .

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A Cavalier History of Surrealism by Raoul Vaneigem


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