Complete summary of André Breton’s Manifesto of Surrealism. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of Manifesto of Surrealism. Andre Breton discusses the meaning, aims, and political position of the Surrealist movement. Manifestoes of Surrealism has ratings and 58 reviews. Manifestoes of Surrealism is a book by André Breton, describing the aims, meaning, and political .
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Such is the belief in life, in the most precarious aspects of life, by which is meant real life, that in the end belief is lost. Man, that inveterate dreamer, more and more discontented day by day with his fate, orbits with difficulty around the objects he has been led to make use of, those which indifference has handed him, or his own efforts, almost always his efforts, since he has consented to labour, at least he has not been averse to chancing his luck what he calls his luck!
A vast modesty is now his lot: There, maniffesto absence of all familiar constraint, furnishes him with a perspective of several lives lived simultaneously; he becomes rooted in this illusion; he no longer wishes to know anything beyond the momentary and extreme facility of everything. Each morning, children set off without concern. Everything is near, the worst material circumstances are fine. The woods are black or white, one will never need to sleep again. Zurrealism it is true we would never dare venture so far, it is not merely a question of distance.
Menace accumulates, one yields, one abandons a part of the terrain to be conquered. That same imagination that knows no limits, is never permitted to be exercised except according to arbitrary laws of utility; it is incapable of assuming this inferior role for long, and at about the age of twenty, prefers, in general, to abandon Man to his unilluminated destiny.
Let him try, later, now and then, to collect himself, having felt himself little by little losing all reason to live, incapable as he has become of rising to the heights of an exceptional situation such as love, and he will manifwsto succeed. That is because, from now on, he belongs body and soul to an imperious practical necessity, of which one must never lose manifesot. His gestures will lose all their expansiveness, his ideas o their grandeur. Surealism what happens to him or might happen, he will perceive only what relates such events to a host of similar events, events in which he has not taken part, waste events.
Rather, he will assess them with regard to some one of those events, more reassuring in its outcome than the rest.
On no account, will he consider them as offering him salvation. The only mark of freedom is whatever still exalts me.
I believe it right to maintain forever, our oldest human fanaticism. Indeed that reflects my sole legitimate aspiration. Amidst all the shame we are heir to, it is well to recognize that the widest freedom of spirit remains to us. It is up to us not to abuse it in any serious manner. Only imagination realises the possible in me, and it is enough to lift for a moment the dreadful proscription; enough also for me to abandon myself to it, without fear of error as if one could be any more in error.
Where does error begin, and security end for the spirit? Is not the possibility of error, for the spirit, rather a circumstance conducive to its well-being? That madness or another. Everyone knows, in fact, that the mad owe their incarceration to a number of legally reprehensible actions, and that were it not for those actions, their liberty or what we see as their liberty would not be at risk.
They may be, in some measure, victims of their imagination, I am prepared to concede that, in the way that it induces them not to observe certain rules, without which the species feels threatened, which it pays us all to be aware of.
But the profound indifference they show for the judgement we pass on them, and even the various punishments inflicted on them, allows us to suppose that they derive great solace from imagination, that they enjoy their delirium enough to endure the fact that it is only of value to themselves.
And, indeed, hallucinations, illusions etc, are no slight source of pleasure. The confidences of the mad, I could pass my whole life inspiring them. They are a scrupulously honest tribe, whose innocence has no peer but my own. Columbus ought to have taken madmen with him to discover America. And see how that folly has gained substance, and endured.
The case against the realist position needs to be considered, after considering the materialist position. The latter, more poetic however than the former, admittedly implies on the part of a Man, a monstrous pride, but not a new and more complete degeneration.
It should be seen, above all, as a welcome reaction against certain ridiculous spiritualist tendencies. Ultimately, it is not incompatible with a certain nobility of thought. The realistic position, in contrast, inspired by positivism, from Thomas Aquinas to Anatole France, appears to me to be totally hostile to all intellectual and moral progress.
It horrifies me, since it arises from mediocrity, hatred and dull conceit. It is what engenders all the ridiculous books, and insulting plays of our day. It feeds on newspaper articles, and holds back science and art, while applying itself to flattering the lowest tastes of its readers; clarity bordering on stupidity, the life lived by dogs.
The activity of the best minds is affected by it, the law of the lowest common denominator imposes itself on them, in the end, as on the others. One amusing result of this state of things, in literature for example, is the vast quantity of novels. The most famous of authors would be included. The Marquise went out at five. But has he kept his word? The circumstantial, needlessly specific, nature of their respective writings, leads me to think they are amusing themselves at my expense.
They spare me not a single one of their issues of characterisation: So many questions, resolved once and for all, haphazardly; the only power of choice I am left with is to close the book, which I take care to do at about the first page. Nothing can be compared to their vacuity; it is nothing but the superimposition of images from a catalogue, the author employs them more and more readily, he seizes the opportunity to slip me postcards, he tries to make me fall in step with him in public places:.
There was nothing special about the chamber. The furniture, of yellow wood, was all quite old. A sofa with a tall curved back, an oval table opposite the sofa, a dressing table and mirror set against the overmantel, chairs against the walls, two or three etchings of little value, representing German girls holding birds in their hands — amounted to all the furniture.
I am in no mood to admit, even for a moment, that the mind welcomes such motifs. It may be argued that this childish description has its place, and that at this point in the novel the author has his reasons for burdening me with it, but he is wasting his time since I avoid entering his room. The idleness, the fatigue of others does not interest me. I prefer one to be silent, when one ceases to feel.
Understand that I am not condemning lack of originality for its lack of originality. I simply say that I take no notice of the empty hours of life, and that it may be an unworthy action for any man to crystallise out those which seem so to him.
Allow me to ignore that description of a room, along with a host of others. The author seizes on a character, and, this being granted, makes the hero wander about the world. Whatever occurs, this hero, whose actions and reactions are admirably predictable, must not disturb, despite seeming to be about to do so, the calculations of which he is the object.
The seas of life can appear to raise him, toss him about, and sink him again, he will always revert to that pre-formed human type. A simple game of chess which I am wholly disinterested in, Man, in whatever form, being a mediocre adversary. If a bunch of grapes contains no two alike, why do you need me to describe this grape among others, among all others, to make a grape worth eating? Our brains are dulled by this incurable mania for reducing the unknown to the known, to the classifiable.
The desire for analysis wins out over feeling. It results in lengthy statements whose persuasive force derives from their very strangeness, and only impress the reader by recourse to an abstract vocabulary, which is moreover quite ill-defined. If the general ideas proposed for discussion by philosophy to date signalled thereby their definitive incursion in a wider domain, I would be the first to rejoice.
But till now it has been mere sophisticated banter; the flashes of wit, and other mannerisms vie in hiding from us true thought in search of itself, instead of focusing on achieving success.
It seems to me that every action carries within itself its own justification, at least for one who has had the capacity to commit it, that it is endowed sndre a radiant power which the slightest gloss is certain to enfeeble.
Because of the latter, it even, in some sense, ceases to exist. Nothing is gained by being thus singled out. Where we truly rediscover them, is where Stendhal lost sight of them.
We are still living under the rule of logic, that, of course, is what I am driving at. But surealism our day, logical procedures are only applicable in solving problems of secondary interest.
The absolute rationalism still in fashion only allows us to consider facts directly related to our own experience. The aims of logic, in contrast, escape us.
Pointless to add that our very experience finds itself limited. It paces about in a cage from which it is more and more difficult to free it. It leans, it too, on immediate utility, and is guarded by common sense. Under the flag of civilisation, accompanied by the pretext of progress, we have managed to banish from the spirit everything that might rightly or wrongly be termed superstition, fancy, forbidding any kind mainfesto research into the truth which does not conform to accepted practice.
It was by pure chance, it seems, that a part of our mental world, and to my mind the most important, with which we pretended to be no longer concerned, was recently brought back to light.
We must give thanks to Freud for his discoveries.
On the basis of his research, a current of opinion is at last flowing, by means of which the explorer of humanity will be able to push his investigations much further, authorised as he will be to maniffesto account of more than merely superficial realities.
Imagination may be on the point of re-asserting its rights. If the depths of our spirits contain strange forces capable of supplementing those on the surface, or waging victorious war against them, there is every reason to seize on them, seize on them and then, if needs be, submit them to the control of reason.
Analysts themselves have everything to gain from it. But it is worth noting that the means of conducting such an enterprise is not defined a priorithat until further notice, it can ander taken to be the province of poets as well as scientists, and that its success will not depend upon the paths, more or less capricious, which are followed.
Very rightly, Freud applied his critical faculties to dreams. It is unacceptable, indeed, that this considerable part of psychic activity since, from the birth to death of human beings at least, thought presents no solution to continuity: The vast difference in importance, in weight, that the maniifesto observer grants to events while awake and asleep, has always astonished me.
It is because human beings, when they cease to sleep, are above mamifesto the playthings of memory, and memory in its normal state takes pleasure in re-tracing the events of dreams only feebly, depriving the latter of all real importance, and distancing the sole determinant from the point where it thinks, several hours later, that it was left: It has the illusion of continuing something worthwhile. Dream finds itself reduced to a parenthesis, like the night.
And, in general, delivers as little information as night does. This curious state of affairs seems to me to call for certain reflections:.
Within the bounds in which they operate or are thought to operatedreams, to all appearances, are continuous and show signs of order. Memory alone arrogates to itself the right to recall excerpts, to ignore transitions, and to represent it to us rather as a series of dreams than the dream itself.