The Dialectic Of Dialectic

A Message to the International Surrealist Movement  We address ourselves to our surrealist friends scattered all over the world and, as in great shipwrecks, we indicate to them our exact location, at latitude 44° 5' North and longitude 26° East. The inexhaustible diversity of means of cretinization at the disposal of the enemies of the dialectic development of thought and action, and the oceans of blood that illustrate the present-day recess of objective evolution will never be able to make us neglect, be it for one single moment, the red thread of Reality. Despite the pitfalls that surround us, we refuse to slip into the mistakes – both theoretical and material – which have each time managed to put on new attire and which, through their immediate guises, whether moral or quantitative, may drive us away from our fundamental wish, whose first known degree is the transformation of wish into a reality of wish.Separated from our friends since the beginning of the imperialistic world war, we haven't heard anything from them. But we have always nurtured the secret hope that on this planet, where our existence seems to become more precarious every day, the real functioning of thought has never ceased to guide the group that holds in its hands the highest ideological freedom that has ever existed – the international surrealist movement.We address ourselves to André Breton in particular, by sending him our warmest message, and at the same time inform the international surrealist movement about some of the theoretic results we have reached during these late years of solitude, in an untiring pursuit of new dialectic solutions that allow us to surmount the rending conflict between ourselves and the world.As surrealists, we continued to envision the possibility of these permanent confrontations between internal reality and external reality in our adhesion to dialectic materialism, in the historic destiny of the international proletariat, and in the sublime theoretical conquests of surrealism. If the surrealist movement was able to react promptly to the right-wing deviations that surrounded or even fought against it, deviations of political or artistic opportunism which, as a matter of fact, occurred before 1939, the year of our latest information, we believe it is about time we turned our attention to some mistakes that have sneaked inside surrealism itself. Though less visible, these mistakes seem to us quite as dangerous to the dialectic development of thought; also, before proceeding with the presentation of our own views, we believe some of the tendencies of surrealism in recent years must be revealed – tendencies which, little by little, may compromise the common effort.These artistic deviations, having ideological ties to the surrealist movement, have been grouped by us under the following general categories: the gradual transformation of objective discoveries into means of artistic production, and the attempt to propagate, in a cultural manner, a certain phase in the evolvement of surrealist thought.As for the existence of the so-called "surrealist scene" in recent years, we believe we have not been the only ones to worry.We do not have in mind the excessive utilization of surrealism, as it has been happening for a long time with those who misused this term for one reason or other: this mistake was confronted in due time. The issue is the mimetic usage of techniques invented by the first surrealists; such techniques are recurrent in all kinds of products inside the movement itself, but they lack revolutionary objectivity on close inspection.Only a complete objective necessity justifies the employment of a surrealist technique after its discovery, such as a mania or a state of hysteric suggestion. But we believe it is about time we reacted against the tendency to consider certain techniques, objectively surrealistic, as transmissible mechanically, and liable to be used ad infinitum.There are surrealist discoveries, but no surrealist manner applicable as such, which would only replace the old, odious methods of poets, painters, or writers.Although the techniques discovered by the surrealists, such as automatic writing, collage or delirium of interpretation may have an objective value we cannot overestimate, so powerful are our consent and admiration, it is obvious that their idealistic repetition deprives them of all primary theoretical value and is by no means justifiable from a surrealist point of view, that is to say, in the most dialectic aspect of this revolutionary movement: for, through artistic repetition at the hands of those deceived by such a dubious interpretation of objectivity, surrealistic techniques become esthetic and abstract techniques.On the fringes of surrealism, and even inside it, especially in painting and poetry, one may notice certain surrealist elements reiterated, varied upon, redone, and the existence of the "scene" we mentioned before is, in our opinion, an artistic deviation, dangerous from every point of view. This "surrealist" mannerism, often involuntary, may change surrealism into an artistic trend, make it acceptable to our class enemies, assign it an innocuous historical past, in brief, take away from it the bite that has inspired, despite all the contradictions of the outer world, those who have made revolution their raison d'être.Therefore, we see in the non-objective, routine use of the great surrealist techniques a mistake leading to the depreciation of these discoveries, and allowing artistic trends to disgracefully make use of these revolutionary values, which constitutes a lethal danger to the development of thought and action.The transformation of objective surrealist discoveries into artistic techniques can be linked to the second mistake we deem right to make known, the mistake that, in our view, consists in a tendency to propagate, in a persuasive fashion, a certain phase of the surrealist movement.This tendency only amplifies the former, inasmuch as it introduces surrealism into a kind of cultural policy. "Surrealist" anthologies visibly display this second deviation, and the attempt they make to mechanically propagate the extant discoveries and, through them, beam around the results thus obtained, can only be considered a sorry attempt at imposing the acceptance of surrealism by pinning it down to one moment of its perpetual movement.We are revealing these two fundamental mistakes of recent years to our surrealist friends, and trust we do not have to insist further upon the dangers that are threatening revolutionary thought, protected by a fateful confidence in the possibility to affix culturally that which was violently snatched from the outer world and ourselves.The transformation of surrealism into a trend of artistic revolt would put an end to its theoretical development, and following its progress through the inevitable stages of rejection and opprobrium, it would run the risk of sharing the fate of all movements of revolt, which always wind up being exploited, one way or another, by the class enemy. In the following pages, it is our intention to convey the theoretical conclusions we have drawn; however, we can only describe partially their framework.At the same time, we think we should specify some fundamental points of view that we believe may be ascribed to the surrealist movement in general; these positions are meant to further strengthen the concrete discoveries we wish to present, more amply resumed in the special works we have dedicated to them.It is quite difficult to find the literary equivalents of our most ineffable desires, but we shall try to point out a few key elements. The first element we would like to insist upon regards the necessity to keep surrealism in a continuously revolutionary state that can offer us solutions of synthesis (Hegelian, materialistic, unheard-of), vainly awaited to this day.This state of continuous revolution can only be maintained and developed through a dialectic position of permanent negation and negation of negation, a position that may at any time expand beyond any conceivable limit, over everything and everybody.We reject any tendency, however seductive, of turning surrealism into either an heir of revolutionary thought, today's most advanced movement, or any other state of synthesis it would be entitled to. It is beyond any doubt that the actual position of surrealism implies these states of synthesis, but we believe that we must reject all attempts at setting statistical limits to it, or letting it be consumed by inheritance plights.The wild hopes we have pinned on the emergence of surrealism and of ourselves call for the expression of all our desires at once, and this desire for desire would run against any attempt to turn surrealism into a purely present-day movement.The dialectic and materialistic power of surrealism against all other existing movements might rightfully exert such attraction over its devotees, and we would find ourselves, sooner or later, plunged into the melancholy that always disfigures a spiritual heritage.In our eyes, surrealism cannot be just the most advanced historical movement. Without sinking into a hackneyed Romantic philosophical idealism, we believe that surrealism can only exist in continuous opposition to the whole world and to itself, in that negation of negation guided by the most inexpressible delirium; all this, of course, without losing one aspect or other of its immediate revolutionary power.Revealing the most revolutionary positions, surrealism is at the same time its own partisan, and it cannot be mixed up with itself for a long time. That is where the key of all revolutionary power lies, and it must not elude us, not even in exchange for the most seductive quantitative results.In this dialectic attitude, we recognize the more concrete possibility to keep intact in ourselves the revolutionary mechanism and the means of trampling underfoot any discovery that would not instantly force us to make another. These states of negation that link up with one another in a concrete, absurd and dialectic way make us reject the past in its whole, seeing that no historical moment was able to satisfy the relative-absolute of all our desires. We reject humankind's past in its entirety, and its mnesic support, memory, meaning by our desires not only the projection of a few fundamental needs, such as desires hidden in the unconscious, but also those that we must yet invent. Any limitation of the possibility to invent new desires, no matter where it comes from, whatever its grounds, will always awaken our demoniac zest for negation and negation of negation.In this effort to bring together internal and external reality, we tirelessly revert to those sublime discoveries that exalt our positions. In the first place, we think of the materialist (Leninist) stance on the relative-absolute, and of objective hazard, defined as the encounter of human finality and universal causality.Objective hazard constitutes for us the most formidable means of finding the relative-absolute aspects of reality in its favorable facets, and is the only one to offer us all the time the possibilities to discover the contradictions of class-based society.Objective hazard leads us to see love as the general revolutionary method, specific to surrealism.After so many fruitless attempts to find a concrete revolutionary method free from all idealistic residues, we have come to consider erotic magnetism to be our most valid insurrectionary support.It is self-evident that, in order to reach this general conclusion, our position with respect to love has developed in an unprecedented manner. This position implies all the familiar states of love up to this day, but at the same time it calls for a dialectic negation of these states.We accept, but surpass, at least theoretically, all known states of love: libertinism, unique love, complex-bound love, the psycho-pathology of love. By trying to capture love in its most violent and decisive, attractive and impossible aspects, we do not content ourselves to see in it the great agitator that sometimes succeeds in shattering, here and there, society's division into classes. Love's destructive power over any established order includes and exceeds the revolutionary needs of our epoch.We proclaim love, freed from its social and individual, psychological and theoretical, religious or sentimental constraints, to be our main method of knowledge and action. Its methodical exasperation, its unlimited development, its breathtaking fascination, through the first stages of which we have passed with Sade, Engels, Freud, and Breton, offer the monstrous aberrations and scandalous efforts that place within our (and any revolutionary's) reach the most efficient means of action.This dialecticized and materialized love is the relative-absolute revolutionary method revealed to us by surrealism and, in the discovery of new erotic possibilities that transcend social, medical, or psychological love, we come to grasp the first aspects of objective love. Even in its most immediate aspects, we believe that the boundless eroticization of the proletariat is the most precious warrant that can be found to ensure them a real revolutionary development in the miserable era we are traversing. In this effort to discover and invent the most turbulent sides of love, we oppose both outer limitations forced upon us by nature and inner limitations due to oedipal complexes.We oppose the passivity with regard to nature manifested so far, the disguised admiration it has inspired to revolutionary movements, because the slowness of natural laws is stirring our impatience.Nor can we accept human biology, which reflects nature in its most advanced aspects; the cellular axioms that surround us and fatally end up in death vex our revolutionary desires, while keeping inside us an ambivalent tension, between life and its opposite.We dream of reconciling our class stand and our stand regarding the regressive aspects of nature, because blind and implicit faith in her possibilities, as it has always been the case, involves the risk of maintaining terrible oppression.A total revolution, such as formulated for the first time by the surrealist movement, can no longer accept nature's Darwinian leaps, the confusing influences of human biology, or the abstract indifference of cosmology.We wish to dialecticize and concretize the utopian attempts of human resistance to nature, and we wish to knock down the terrifying barriers it keeps erecting in front of us, behind which society divided into classes can survive.We have known for a long time that the attempt to gradate our opposition to the outer world for reasons of opportunity always turns against us. That is the reason why we want to link our historical revolutionary stand to our revolutionary stand against nature, thus reestablishing, in a convenient way, the necessary relations between desire and the universe, from a cosmological point of view.We are aware, more than ever, that any class revolution must be concretely doubled by a revolution against nature.The necessity to discover the love that could constantly upset social and natural obstacles leads us to a non-oedipal stand. The existence of birth trauma and oedipal complexes, such as discovered by Freudianism, constitutes the natural and mnesic limits, the adverse unconscious creases that, without our knowing it, control our attitude towards the outer world. We have raised the issue of man's complete deliverance (Gherasim Luca, The Inventor of Love), conditioning this freedom by the destruction of our initial oedipal stand.Thanks to the revolutionary movements, the position of the father has been forcefully shaken in both its direct and symbolic aspects. But the castrating relics of birth trauma are no less enduring, supported in fact by the favorable position of the brother, which has been upheld by the political movements and is just another guise of the initial complexes.The painful defeats in love, all tainted by romantic idealism and the human incapacity to objectify, find their first embodiment in the mnesic fixedness of the mother and in the persistence of the primitive double inside us.The qualitative transformation of love into a general method of revolution and the possibility to transcend, through a formidable leap, the unconscious image of love, are hampered by this primordial theoretical defeat, perpetuated in us by the oedipal stand. Freed from the deadly anxiety brought about by birth, from the complex-related limitations brought about by our unconscious oedipal attitude, we are finally trying to find the precise ways of our liberation and to surmount "the eternal return" implied by our erotic attitudes, in their biologic or psychical aspects.Seen in a non-oedipal light, the existing states of love are only stages we have to go through, and the concrete absurdity of objective love can only burst forth starting from this imperative Hegelian negation, aphrodisized up to paroxysm.The necessities of revolution call for the extension of the non-oedipal attitude to a general level (Gherasim Luca, First Non-Oedipal Manifesto), concerning the infra-psychical stand of the revolutionaries in their immediate struggle.As long as the proletariat conserves the initial, fundamental complexes we are fighting against, its struggle, and even its triumph will be an illusion, because the class enemy will remain hiding in its blood. Oedipal limitations chain the proletariat to a stand of symmetrical negation of the bourgeoisie, which thus manages to instill in it, in a fashion the more dangerous as it is unknown, its heinous fundamental attitudes.The position of the father-brother, perpetuated in the unconscious of the proletariat, holds it in self-bondage and makes it retain its deformities originated in nature and in the capitalist economy. Marx had already drawn the attention on the need to consider the proletariat not only an antagonistic class, generated by the development of the means of production, but also on the necessity to deny this imposed status. In order to deny this status, the teeth of revolution must bite hard into the ignorant, natural passiveness of man. The point is to go beyond the abstract, artificial admiration for the proletariat and find the lines of force that imply its own negation. As a matter of fact, this negation must depart from a humanitarian, old-fashioned internationalism that continues to allow national traits to assert themselves under cover of reformist equality, in favor of an unyielding anti-national stand, with a concrete class character and outrageously cosmopolite, going back to man himself in its most violent aspects. Our stand regarding the relations between the conscious and the unconscious, as they have been outlined by dreams and psychoanalysis, undergoes a dialectic change, owing to our general attitude towards reality.The mechanical opposition we are disclosed, between the conscious and the unconscious, in favor of the latter, does not apply similarly the moment we really place ourselves in an antagonistic position. Since the unconscious continues to partially preserve regressive mnesic traces, in an obsessive oneiromancy (Trost, Vision in the Crystal), we oppose dreams, considered to be the most revealing unconscious symptoms, when the apparent content of those dreams retains day-time reactionary remnants.Obviously there is no question of another secondary elaboration acting as censorship, but only an attempt to really harmonize daytime and nighttime life, which seems impossible to us as long as we continue to accept every dream as a whole, even in its regressive mnesic aspects.The acceptance of every dream, even one with reactionary contents, for the sole reason that it is a dream and a symptom of the unconscious, hence the acceptance of certain oneiric scenes, such as scenes of social castration or repetition, which bluntly contradict our conscious ideological stands, would lead us to a taboo, which only a mechanistic stand could attempt to cultivate.By recognizing, in an incredibly concrete manner, the identity of the real functioning of thought throughout daytime life, madness and dreams, and by seeing in these three modalities nothing but artificial distinctions perpetuated by the process of thought in dissimilar external conditions, we are trying to repel the debasing influence of oppressive social factors, not by mechanically reducing daytime life to dreams and madness, but also through a critical attitude toward antagonistic daytime remnants, conserved in mnesic fashion in the cited states. We cannot accept regressive dreams, just as we cannot accept religious folly, because our confidence in these magnificent revolutionary instruments prevents us from concealing reactionary contents, under cover of an opposition that does nothing but put away, through mechanical delays, the reconciliation between daytime life and nighttime life.By researching, at the same time, the oneiric process in daytime life, with all its explosive consequences, we draw near the complete confusion of daytime and nighttime existence, through the negation of their artificial separation, a negation whose first degrees we have been offered by somnambulism, automatism and a few other exceptional states.We resumed the issue of knowledge through image (Trost, The Navigable Profile), by establishing a net distinction between the images produced with artistic means and those due to scientific techniques, strictly applied, such as acts of hazard and automatism. We oppose the tendency to reproduce symbolically certain valid theoretical matters by means of painting techniques, and we believe that the unknown that surrounds us finds an absolutely breathtaking materialization in the impenetrable images. Surrealist painting, while generally accepting painting's reproductive means so far, finds the course of its development in the absurd use of non-plastic, objective, and entirely non-artistic techniques.From the numerous techniques we have found, some were partially presented in an exhibition in January 1945, and succinctly described in a Presentation of Colored Graphies, Cubomanias, and Objects.We have dealt with these techniques at large in special works (Oneirizing Life, The Power of Glance, The Knowledge of the Times, Voluptuous Initiation…), and we would not be able to sum up their contents in this brief message without running the risk of overlooking one of their multiple aspects or other.By pushing automatism to its most concrete and absurd limits (surautomatism, the simulacrum-talisman), by uninterruptedly objectifying hazard and forcing it to give up its rare item quality originated in the discovery of the object found (the object objectively offered, entoptic graphomania), we drive away the unbearable idea of not being able to capture it at all time. By putting automatism and hazard in a continuous relation (entoptic graphomania, vaporization), by intensifying the rending antinomy between subject and object, and accelerating, by means of simulacrum, of artifice, of active vision and theoretical despair, its revolutionary dialectic solution through the placement of the subject in a receptive position of oneirical quality (hypnagogic movements, paintings made with closed eyes) or mediumistic quality (the objectanalysis; interpretation of a few objects in a light state of somnambulism induced by them), we have taken over new territories from the objective world.By using pathological techniques (echography, stereotyping) and placing mechanical devices within reach of the real process of thought – such as a pantograph and a paper-cutting machine (pantography, cubomania), we try to surmount the coldness of universal causality. Not having yet the necessary means to present it in its whole theoretical amplitude, we already declare our wish to retrieve the scientific (cosmological) correspondences of our attitude, and we realize that the surrealist stand is in agreement with many discoveries seemingly distant from it. Subjectively-objectively, we agree to the discoveries that wield a fascinating attraction upon us, such as non-Euclidean geometry, the fourth dimension, Brownian movements, quanta and space-time, and also partially agree to non-Pasteurian biology, represented by the Heraclitean stand of homeopathy.We hope to see these scientific surveys – certainly, too particular to be entirely correct – get closer to one another, in a concretely active manner, while we are trying to find the deliriously necessary means for such an approach in the flashing, malefic materialism of black magic. In The Law of Gravity we made a desperate attempt to confer an objective character on the desire to meet the image of the universe, by forcing the unfavorable siege of nature.Still separated from one another, we dream of the secret agreement that must exist between dreams and the fourth dimension, between lechery and Brownian movements, between the hypnotic gaze of love and space-time. In agreement with science in its attractive and cryptesthetic aspects, the surrealist movement at the same time overturns its mathematical rigidity, with the self-reliance that reminds of a sleepwalker's journey to the core of his own mystery, for one instant identified with the secret destiny of mankind. Day and night crossed by an infinite sequence of increasingly irritating negations, ever more precious and devouring, the unrivaled instrument of conquest named dialectic materialism madly exalts our insatiable hunger for reality, and ferociously bites into man's black, captive flesh.Soaked in blood, his throbbing bones now look like long, hanging crystals. S Surrealism, Bucharest, 1945

by Gherasim Luca; D. Trost