Jim Fleming on Mon, 25 Nov 2002 16:49:01 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] Autonomedia Announces "Surrealist Subversions"

"Surrealist Subversions" is a brick of a book, at 742 pages perfect 
for hurling through the glass window of the Art History zoo -- which 
has had surrealism tied to an early-twentieth-century stake for quite 
some time now. Largely an anthology of "Arsenal/Surrealist 
Subversions", the Chicago-based surrealist journal borne of a 
late-60s dissatisfaction with the way things were going, the book 
seeks to continue the project of realizing poetry in everyday life. 
Of course, most of us are prevented from "realizing" poetry just like 
that, so a good chunk of this book is devoted to their critique of 
the miserabilist components of everyday life that conspire to block 
the Marvellous ("miserabilism" being the system which "produces both 
misery and the idea that misery is the only possible reality"). As 
expected, this critique often overlaps with a fundamental critique of 
capitalism, and in fact a Surrealist flyer called "Who Needs the 
WTO?" received wide distribution in Seattle in those legendary days 
in November of 1999. [For a review of this book pointing more towards 
the relationship between Chicago Surrealism and the Global 
Anti-Capitalist movement, go to 
http://www.autonomedia.org/surrealistsubversions/review.html .]

Critique of miserabilism in place, the book also traces the history 
of American surrealism, first by collecting documents from within the 
movement ("The Surrealist Adventure: Total Nonconformism, 
Insubordination, and Revolution as the Way to a Non-Repressive 
Civilization") and then by tracing the surrealist path via eruptions 
of the Marvellous in the culture at large ("Surrealist Action: Social 
Transformation as Festival"). The task of binding the whole project 
together is expertly accomplished by editor Ron Sakolsky, 
particularly with his lengthy introduction to the book, in which he 
gives significant cultural and biographical background to the major 
and minor players in the movement. All in all, this is a tremendous, 
thoroughly illustrated book which will hopefully provoke and inspire 
restless and irritated imaginations to gorgeous creative action.

Surrealist Subversions http://www.autonomedia.org/surrealistsubversions

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