Dada to Surreal

Don’t know that much about art or poetry, and less about the latter than the former. Seem to like a lot of William Ronald and Jack Bush, plus some Modigliani. In terms of poetry, can’t think of anybody, other than William Hawkins, and even there, have not yet read the majority of his poetry, instead knowing much better his songwriting.

Learning much about poetry from Paul Auster. He writes about Dada poetry and the poetry of the Surrealism movement. Thought both related primarily to art. So end up learning much, in a long article/short book commentary “Twentieth Century French Poetry” (1981, contained in The Art of Hunger [1992]), concerning Dada and Surrealism in poetry (at pp. 219-220):

Like Dada, Surrealism did not offer itself as an aesthetic movement. Equating Rimbaud’s cry to change life with Marx’s injunction to change the world, the Surrealists sought to push poetry, in Walter Benjamin’s phrase, “to the utmost limits of possibility”. The attempt was to demystify art, to blur the distinctions between life and art, and to use the methods of art to explore the possibilities of human freedom. To quote Walter Benjamin again, from his prescient essay on the Surrealists, published in 1929: “Since Bakunin, Europe has lacked a radical concept of freedom. The Surrealists have one. They are the first to liquidate the liberal-moral-humanistic ideal of freedom, because they are convinced that ‘freedom, which on this earth can only be bought with a thousand of the hardest sacrifices, must be enjoyed unrestrictedly in its fullness, without any kind of programmatic calculation, as long as it lasts.'” For this reason, Surrealism associated itself closely with the politics of revolution (one of its magazines was even entitled Surrealism in the Service of the Revolution), flirting continually with the Communist party and playing the role of fellow traveler during the era of the Popular Front–although refusing to submerge its identity in that of pure politics. Constant disputes over principles marked the history of the Surrealists, with Breton holding the middle ground between the activist and aesthetic wings of the group, frequently shifting positions in an effort to maintain a consistent program for Surrealism. …Both Artaud and Desnos were excommunicated in 1929–Artaud for opposing Surrealism’s interest in politics, and Desnos for supposedly compromising his integrity by working as a journalist. …Michaux, in some sense the more Surrealist of all French poets, never had anything to do with the group.

Beauty and embarrassment in appreciation as to how much one does not know…

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About brucelarochelle

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